BLUFFTON – Age is just a number but it’s a number that never seems to lose its fascination.
Today’s championship flight semifinals in the Lima City Men’s Golf Championship at the Shawnee Country Club is a classic match-up of experience vs. youth.
Brian Kuhlman, the winner of the last two city championships, will play Spencer Stubbs, a sophomore at Lourdes College in one semifinal. In the other semifinal, 2015 champion Josh Hollar will play University of Northwestern Ohio freshman Cole Thomas.
Those four golfers emerged from two rounds of match play at the Bluffton Golf Club on Friday.
“I know Josh is 29, but how old are these guys?” Kuhlman asked as he looked at the championship flight bracket. Informed that Stubbs and Thomas were in the first half of their college careers, he said, “So I’m two and a half times both their ages.”
Kuhlman, Hollar, Stubbs and Thomas were the survivors of a 9 ½ hour golf marathon that included two rounds, a scheduled break and an unscheduled hour and a half interruption when a thunderstorm rolled in.
Kuhlman will play Stubbs today in a semifinal that tees off at 3:38 p.m., and Thomas and Hollar will follow them at 3:45 p.m.
Stubbs beat Brian Stevenson 3-and-2 in his first match on Friday, then knocked off two-time city champion Phil Trueblood by the same score in a quarterfinal match.
Rain delays have made Stubbs anxious at times, but not on Friday. He had a two-hole lead when the tournament went into a delay and he produced some fireworks on the first hole after play resumed.
“I get a little nervous after delays for the weather but today I came out and the first hole (after the delay) I made about a 30-footer for a birdie,” Stubbs said.
“I was able to stay in the moment, I never let myself get ahead of it. It was just one shot at a time. I stayed focused as much as I could and I was able to prevail.
“I was able to stay in the moment, I never let myself get ahead of it. It was just one shot at a time. I stayed focused as much as I could and I was able to prevail. I was able to come out red hot. I was hitting greens and my putter was on fire,” he said.
Thomas was a 6-and-4 winner over Steve Creps Jr. in the quarterfinals after beating Scott Geier 4-and-3. He also came out strong after the weather delay with three consecutive birdies.
“I think the wait kind of took a toll on everybody. It’s hard to play 18 (holes), wait an hour and a half, play nine holes, wait an hour and a half and try to go out and play again. That’s hard on anybody. I was really fortunate to birdie those three holes and jump out to a good lead,” he said.
Hollar won his quarterfinal match 6-and-5 over Logan Dray after a 1-up win over Aaron Belcher in a 19-hole match.
“I’m fortunate to be in the final four. I had a pretty tough match first off, then played really well in the second one,” Hollar said.
Hollar, the last player to win this tournament before Kuhlman’s back-to-back wins, said he is using a strategy he learned in a match play loss to Kuhlman in last year’s tournament.
“I look a lesson out of Brian Kuhlman’s book of how he beat me last year – just making pars. That’s all I focused on all day. I’ve done that the whole tournament and I’m going to keep doing it,” he said.
Kuhlman won 2-and-1 over Gary Karch in their quarterfinal match after beating Luke Young 1-up earlier.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow, I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said.
Today’s first flight semifinals will be John Sizemore against Collin Rambin and Kayne Richardson against Greg Bunn.
In the second flight semifinals, Michael Borges will play Thomas Noble and Brian Jesko will play Josh Gaines.
The third flight semifinals will be Tim Grigsby against Kirk Slusher and Levi Mikesell against Keenan Newland.
Dennis Medeiros will play Rick Cheney in one senior championship flight semifinal and Michael Walsh will play Brian Norton in the other one.
The senior open flight semifinals will be Jim Sherrick against Kevin Wilkerson and Mike Stewart against Jeff Harris.
In the super senior 1 flight, Mike Allen will play Dan Garlock and Mike McGough will play Steve Creps Sr. In the super senior 2 flight, Denny Thompson will play Tony Hobensack and John Gronas will play Jeff Cary.