Birdie on 17 lifts Elliott in match play

Last year's runner-up defeats Baloga, 1-up

August 05, 2002|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Tim Elliott birdied the 200-yard 17th hole from 3 feet and went on to win the fifth match play championship of the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation with a 1-up triumph over Chris Baloga at Mount Pleasant Golf Course yesterday.

Each player showed a different style, but the result was the same, as no more than one hole separated the two over the 18-hole distance.

"I can't hit it any better," said Elliott, runner-up a year ago, who missed just two greens. On the other hand, Baloga missed seven greens, but a series of one-putts kept him in contention.

Still, it was a missed short putt at the 15th after he had missed the green and pitched to 2 feet, that cost Baloga a lead he had held since the 11th green. All square, Elliott was short of the 16th green, but coaxed in a 5-foot par putt for a half, then hit a 3-iron shot at the 17th, the ball stopping 3 feet from the hole.

Both hit the 18th green in two and two-putted for pars. Baloga, needing his first putt to prolong the match, left it short.

Elliott, 26, explained: "I don't think last year entered my thinking [when he drove out of bounds at the last hole and lost to Tim Osgood, 1-down]. I was going to aim right and take the out-of-bounds out of play on that hole regardless."

Baloga, 19, bracketed birdies at the second and sixth around three successive bogeys, a stretch that effectively ended a two-match string of eight one-putts, going from 1-up to 1-down to even. Elliott's birdie at the ninth sent him 1-up at the turn. Baloga battled right back to win the 10th-11th with a birdie-par run.

"When I was 1-down at the turn, I knew I couldn't make a bogey, because he wasn't going to make anything worse than a par," Baloga said. The champion finished even par for the round, 36-35, to Baloga's 37-35.

Elliott's closing comment applied to both finalists, "There was no point in the match when I felt comfortable [about the outcome]."

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