Ponchock's birdie is sudden death for rivals

July 16, 1992|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Staff Writer

MITCHELLVILLE -- Amateur Del Ponchock rolled in a 6-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to defeat pros Larry Ringer and Glen Barrett in a sudden-death playoff for the 72nd Maryland Open championship at Prince George's Country Club yesterday.

It was a fitting climax for the host club, where Ringer is the head professional and Ponchock is a member. A large and enthusiastically partisan gallery was on hand to cheer for them.

At the playoff hole, No. 10, a 384-yard par-4, Ringer drove into the left rough, where he had a lie on bare dirt. From there, he managed to get a shot on the far right fringe of the green, but with the pin way left, he had 80 feet for birdie.

The other two were in the fairway, Barrett winding up eight feet below the flagstick, and Ponchock six feet to the right of it. Ringer's shot fell off at the end and stopped a foot away. Barrett narrowly missed on the right side, and then Ponchock ended it.

Ponchock, 21, a University of Maryland senior, earned the championship trophy and the Harry Pitt Trophy as low amateur. The two pros each collected $3,250 from the $20,000 purse.

Playing in the group ahead of Ringer, Barrett was 1-under and knew he had to birdie the 18th.

At the 540-yard finishing hole, he hit a 240-yard 3-wood second shot that stopped on the front fringe of the green. His 25-foot chip shot needed another turn of the ball, as it stopped three inches from the cup.

At 18, Ringer played safe on his second shot, then struck a wedge shot 10 feet above and left of the pin. Ponchock followed with a shot that rolled 12 feet past the hole. Going first, he tapped the ball and it rolled true, falling into the cup for a birdie and 2-under. He had 74-214.

That put it squarely up to Ringer, a two-time winner of this championship. His bid for birdie and victory slid by the hole on the high side, and he collected himself to make his comeback par from 18 inches. That left him at 74-214.

"I knew the putt would break two inches, and I hit it too hard; hitting it through the break," Ringer said.

In becoming the first amateur to win this title since Marty West III of Columbia CC in 1986, Ponchock said he felt a kind of "anxious calm," ahead of time, finding it hard to wait and wishing it were over.

His round was one of being good -- and lucky. At the eighth hole, his drive was headed out of bounds, but hit a fence and came back. He one-putted four successive holes, plus the playoff hole. The others were for pars, one a 20-footer and two six-footers ahead of the dramatic 18th.

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