There won’t be a three-time champion in the Lima City Men’s Golf Championship this year but there will be a first-time champion.
Spencer Stubbs and Cole Thomas, the No. 1 and No. 2 qualifiers, will play in today’s championship flight title match at the Shawnee Country Club.
Stubbs, a Lourdes University golfer, ended Brian Kuhlman’s bid to become the first player to win three consecutive city championships since Tim Crockett in 1983 with a 1-up win over the two-time champ on Saturday.
Thomas, a University of Northwestern Ohio golfer who had never played at the Shawnee Country Club before Saturday and never set foot on the property until Friday, beat 2015 champion Josh Hollar 6-and-5.
Thomas’ win was relatively easy. He won the first three holes with pars to take control of the match and never let up.
“I just made par and did what I had to do. In match play just par them to death, that’s how you win. I opened up with seven straight pars. Yesterday I opened up with 10 straight pars. That’s what you have to do to win in match play. That just wears them out,” he said.
Stubbs had to survive a late charge by Kuhlman to get his win. He hit much-needed putts to halve No. 15 and No. 16 and lost No. 17.
That brought him to No. 18 with a one-hole lead. His tee shot was to the right of the green and Kuhlman’s drive landed to the left of the green.
Stubbs’ 56-degree wedge rolled to within two feet and nearly dropped into the hole, which almost guaranteed he would advance to the finals.
“I really thought I had it there.,” Stubbs said about his chip at No. 18. “About three fourths of the way there I started to drop the club and run at it. I thought it might have a chance to drop. But it got in there close enough that Brian was going to have to chip in.”
While the chip ended up being the shot that sealed Stubbs’ win, it was his putting that carried him through the pressure-packed final holes.
“On No. 15 I had a bunker shot lying two. I ended up blowing across the green into the other green-side bunker and got a bogey to halve the hole,” he said
“On No. 16 he stuffed it in there and had a good look at an eagle. I hit it to about eight feet and was able to roll it in (for a birdie). Fifteen and sixteen, those were some big putts. Without those it’s a different match. The putter saved me coming down the stretch. It was the equalizer. It saved me there.”
Today’s two finalists have not played against each other in this tournament but have competed in high school tournaments when Stubbs played at Bath and Thomas played at Arlington.
“It might have been the first high school tournament I ever played in my freshman year. We were paired together at Hawthorne and I think we were paired together the next year too,” Thomas said.
Seven other flight championships will be decided today at Shawnee. The competitors in those flights are:
Collin Rambin and Greg Bunn in the first flight, Thomas Nolte and Josh Gaines in the second flight, Kirk Slusher and Keenan Newland in the third flight, Dennis Medeiros and Brian Norton in the senior championship flight, Jim Sherrick and Jeff Harris in the senior open flight, Mike Allen and Mike McGough in the super senior 1 flight and Denny Thompson and John Gronas in the super senior 2 flight.