By Rob Kiser
Andy Arp — two-time winner of the Piqua Country Club’s President’s Cup — looked at Tom Christy as they walked off the first tee during the playoff for the Piqua City Golf Championship and said, “Hasn’t this felt like match play all day?”
In the end, that is exactly what it turned into — with Arp winning the playoff on the first hole to win his first City title in only his second time playing in the tournament.
“It usually doesn’t work out with my work schedule,” Arp said. “I played two years ago for the first time. I know some big names have won this tournament. I never got to meet Gene (Bayman), but I have heard a lot about him. I know Doug (Eakin) won it a few years ago.”
And Arp and Christy enjoy the competition.
“It is always a lot of fun,” Arp said.
“We have played against each other a lot,” Christy said. “And we always enjoy it. It is always fun.”
After an even battle for 36 holes, Arp took command on the 309-yard first hole in the playoff off the tee.
Teeing off first, he hit his drive just right of the green, forcing Christy’s hand.
“I don’t usually hit driver there,” Christy said. “But, after Andy hit his drive, I felt like I had to. I caught it a little in the heel and it ended up in the bunker.”
That fairway bunker Christy found is about 50 yards short of the green.
To make matters worse, he was almost up against the front lip. Christy was up to the challenge, blasting it to about 20 feet short of the pin to give himself a birdie opportunity.
“When I hit the drive, I was hoping it would go left of the bunker, but it didn’t,” Christy said. “But, I was really pleased with the bunker shot I hit.”
But Arp showed no mercy — he used his 56-degree wedge and chipped it to two inches for a tap-in birdie.
“I was hoping it would go in,” Arp said. “That was the first time I had seen Tom (Christy) hit driver on this hole. I knew that was going to be a tough shot out of the bunker.”
Christy left his birdie putt short, giving Arp the win.
“I had a putt to win on 18 from about 18 feet,” Christy said. “I left it short, dead-center.”
Christy and Arp had shared the first round lead with Brian Deal after the trio carded 75s at Echo Hills Saturday.
Darrin Grove was one shot back after a 76.
By the back-nine Sunday, it was a two-man race between Arp and Christy.
On the 400-yard, par-4 third hole, Arp recorded a birdie to take the lead.
Christy closed the deficit to one by the turn and pulled even when Arp bogeyed the 423-yard, par-4 12th hole.
Christy took a one-shot lead when Arp three-putted the 436-yard, par-4 15th.
Christy returned the favor at 16 and both parred the 203-yard par-3 17th.
On the 400-yard, par-4 18th, Christy left his par save short, leaving Arp with an eight-footer for bogey to force a playoff.
“We would like to think we are like the pros — just step up and knock it in,” Arp said. “But, that was a putt I had to make. It can be a little strenuous.”
For a second, when the putt went in — Christy thought he had lost by one.
“I had forgotten that putt was for bogey,” Christy said.
That gave both players a one-over-par 73 and 148 totals for the tournament — leading to the playoff and Arp winning with a birdie.
“I feel pretty good about the way I played,” Arp said. “With the birdie, I was even-par for the 19 holes today. That is pretty good.”
Grove carding a matching 76 Sunday to finish third with a 152 total.
Defending champion Chad Sherrill and Dave Larger tied for fourth.
Sherill shot rounds of 79 and 77 for a 156 score, while Larger matched him with rounds of 80 and 76.
Larry Orsolak won the first flight title.
Orsolak opened with an 87 at Echo Hills Saturday and followed it with a 92 at Piqua Country Club Sunday for a 179 total.
Michael Simmons finished second, recording matching rounds of 91 for a 182 total, finishing three shots back.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.