After one of the most dramatic finishes in the history of the SCGA Foursomes Championship, the team of Mark Miller and Dan Sullivan emerged once again as victors for the second consecutive year.
For those who know North Ranch CC, it’s no secret that no lead is safe heading into holes 17 and 18 on the Oaks nine. After developing a two-stroke lead heading into the difficult 17th, the duo of Miller and Sullivan carded a double bogey five, which put them in a tie with the team of Tim Hogarth and Corby Segal with one hole to play. Segal’s approach shot to the 18th came to rest just beyond the green. After encountering a brutal lie in the rough, Sullivan managed to gouge out an approach shot which ended up short and left of the green. Now faced with a 30-yard pitch shot, Miller hit a shot that any golfer would dub unbelievable.
“I caught it a little thin, and when it was in the air I was just hoping we’d have a 15-foot putt coming back,” said Miller. Instead, the pitch shot was gobbled up by the flag and suspended in the air for a moment, only to softly land within two inches of the hole. After Sullivan tapped in for par, the side had posted a score of 147 (+3). It was up to Hogarth and Segal to get up and down, but when the side’s attempt at par did a 90 degree lip-out, the championship belonged to Miller and Sullivan.
“We play together all the time and really like hanging out – that shouldn’t be underrated,” said Sullivan in reference to their success as a team. In fact, both players admitted that they are better as a team than they are individually. Ironically, the two-time defending champs admitted to not really having a strategy. “Dan is a much better iron player, so we tried to set up the holes in a way where he’d be hitting the majority of the iron shots,” said Miller. Sullivan, too, gave ample praise to his partner, stating during the awards ceremony that Miller had carried him for 36 holes. Perhaps not placing blame or taking credit is the key to conquering this difficult format. When asked if they considered themselves the best two-man team in Southern California, the modest duo simply shook their heads. That said, after back-to-back wins at the Foursomes and a second place finish at the Four-Ball, it’s tough to argue that any team is any better. They’ve never finished outside the top six when competing together in a team event.
Playing alongside brothers Joey and Tony Behrstock as well as Hogarth and Segal proved to be a great final pairing for Miller and Sullivan. Commonly referred to as the “Brookside All-Stars” Miller, Sullivan and Hogarth routinely play together at Brookside GC. Miller also played high school golf against Segal, so there were definitely familiar faces in the group.
While Hogarth is no stranger to playing in the final group in SCGA championships, Segal is relatively new to this position. The two paired up due to the fact that they play a similar game. “He hits it straighter than I do,” Hogarth jokingly said. “I’d take him as a partner any day.” The reason Segal doesn’t play in as many SCGA events is because of the travel associated with his day job – he’s the caddie of PGA Tour professional, Briny Baird. When asked about his nerves today versus a crucial round on tour with Briny, Segal admitted that playing is a lot harder. “I’m always around the caddying aspect of the game, and talking is a lot easier than doing!”
The Foursomes Championship proved once again why it is the most grueling event in the SCGA’s championship rotation. The alternate shot format makes it nearly impossible for players to find a rhythm as it is such a different format of play than most are accustomed to. “You can never say sorry to your partner,” said Dick Engel who finished in a tie for third place along with partner Brent Brockermeyer. “Stuff happens out there, and that’s just golf.” North Ranch CC didn’t surrender a single red number, and only two teams managed to shoot one round of even par (72) throughout the tournament.
After being doused with 1.8 inches of rain the day prior to the event, the course drained incredibly well and proved to be in excellent shape for the two days of play. Kudos to the entire staff and membership at North Ranch Country Club for being exceptional hosts.