Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club, Grand Blanc, MI — August 29, 2021
Bernhard Langer and Doug Barron started the final day of The Ally Challenge at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club tied atop the leaderboard. Unfortunately, for one of them, their prospects for the day moved in the opposite direction.
Langer started with five pars and a birdie on the 6th hole took him to 15 under. Barron dropped out of the lead with bogies on the 4th and 5th, before a birdie on the 6th stopped his downward slide. However, a new leader emerged when Joe Durant, playing in the final group with Langer and Barron, put together birdies on 3, 4, and 6 to push the lead to 16 under.
Steve Flesch was the biggest mover in the early action Sunday afternoon. Four birdies on the front side followed by consecutive birdies on 10 and 11 brought him to within four strokes of the lead after beginning the day tied for 23rd.
Flesch was joined in a tie for 4th place by K J Choi whose four birdies on the front nine allowed him to reach the same score of 12 under.
Making the Turn
The charge Steve Flesch made early ran out of steam on the backside of the course. But, a birdie on 16 got him to -13 and another on 18 established him as the leader in the clubhouse at 14 under.
Choi had taken his score to 15 under until a bogey on 14 dropped him back into a tie with Flesch after 15 holes.
Langer dropped a stroke on the 9th with only his second bogey of the tournament. He fell back to 15 under, two strokes out of the lead.
After Barron’s back-to-back bogeys, he responded with two birdies in a row on 6 and 7. Another on the par 4, 12th hole and he joined Langer at 15 under.
After going 4 under on his first eight holes, Durant made 4 straight pars and headed for the final 6 holes with a two-stroke lead at 17 under par.
Down the Stretch
A birdie from Choi on 17 gave him hope if he could produce the same result on the finishing hole. However, a bogey on the last left him tied with Flesch at 14 under in the clubhouse.
Steve Alker started the day and 10 under par. Bogies on 4 and 5 took him out of contention early. Alker responded with three straight birdies on 6, 7, and 8. Then on the back nine, four more birdies brought Alker to 15 under. Were it not for the early trouble he could have been contending for the win.
Langer managed to get it done all weekend, except for the final nine holes. A birdie on 16 made up for the bogey on the 9th that cost him the tournament. But he could not find the bottom of the cup with birdie putts.
The leaders came to the 18th tee with Joe Durant 2 up on Langer. Durant had also birdied 16 and avoided a bogey through Sunday’s first 17 holes to sit at 18 under with Langer at -16. Durant teed off first and went wild right into the 9th hole fairway that runs adjacent to 18.
Langer followed and with a chance to close the gap he hit his ball into the fairway trap on the right side of the hole.
Durant’s second came up short of the green in front of the left bunker protecting the pin. Langer’s second out of the trap was dead on toward the pin but it fell short into the trap.
The nerves were starting to fray. Durant chipped short of the pin and his ball almost rolled into the same trap Langer had found. He left himself with a difficult putt that would require traveling through the fringe to get to the hole and he rolled it five feet past where he was laying 4 strokes on the par 4 hole.
The crowd anticipated a Langer hole out and he gave it a run, but his sand shot came up just short.
Durant sank his testy knee knocker for the bogey that gave him the win. Langer made par, coming up a stroke short of a playoff.
The real winner was the Genesee County community that supported the tournament with volunteers and attendance. The tournament committee will write a big check to the United Way when all the receipts are totaled. The Ally Challenge in four short years has become the premier event on the PGA Tour Champions circuit.
Final Round Scores for The Ally Challenge at Warwick Hills
|T4||K. J. Choi||-6||-14|
|T25||D. Love III||-1||-7|
|T46||W. Short Jr.||-1||-3|
|T64||T. Pernice Jr.||3||1|