A clash of titans would not be an overstatement. When Sea Cav champion Taylor Fancher and Sunshine Coast Golf and Country Club head pro Jim Pringle teed it up Friday, Sept. 3 for the culmination of this year’s club match play event, it felt unfortunate to have a loser in a match that needed an extra hole to find the victor, the battle was that good.
After birdies on the first, the duo moved to the second where Fancher sank a 23-foot putt for birdie to keep them all square, remaining that way right through the 5th hole. When Fancher failed to get his second shot on the green on the 6th, and missed his 10-foot par putt, it gave Pringle the first lead in the contest, which he held through the par 3 ninth when Fancher missed a five-footer to square the match, and equalling each other with putts with 16 each through the first nine.
Both hit poor second shots to start the back nine but Pringle’s deft pitch to five feet below the hole made the difference as Fancher had chunked his third, making it 2 up Pringle. On the next, after two Fore right’s, it was Fancher’s scrambling that paid off as his 5th was conceded when Pringle failed to sink his 30-foot par putt, reducing his lead to one. After sloppy bogies on the 12th, they headed to 13 where the match was to truly start.
Again, poor second shots left the players scrambling, and it looked in Pringle’s favour when his opponent’s first putt from the fringe jumped off the club and left him with a 12-foot putt for par. Fancher drained the putt and when Pringle missed we were all square headed to the 14th. “We should have just started the match here,” quipped Pringle as they strode to the tee. I’m sure Fancher would have agreed with that statement as he had taken the hole and squared the match and played solidly the next two holes and stood on the 16th tee two up. After a pair of pars they headed to the 17th with Pringle dormie.
Both hit the green on the par three, Fancher failed to convert his 30-foot putt and when Pringle drained his 18-footer, the stage was set for a thrilling finish, though you would not have known it from the tee shots on the next. Pringle dribbled his tee shot up the middle and Fancher hit right to the trees but got a “members kick” to the corner, however, not enough for a clean shot to the green. His next found the bunker front left and the next to the berm behind the green. Pringles’ bogey was enough to ensure extra holes. “That should have been on television,” he said as the pair headed to the first extra hole.
It was not an exaggeration. To this point both had played solid golf with few miscues, and when they did happen, the scrambling made up for it, whether recovery shots or clutch putts. For Fancher it was his long putt on the 2nd for birdie and halve the hole and get early confidence as well as his 12-footer on the 13th green for par squaring the match. Shot of the day would have to go to Pringle on the par 3 17th hole for his 18-foot birdie putt to extend the match.
On the first tee of the playoff, Fancher hit left just into the trees and had to punch out, while Pringle sent his to the long grass left of the bunker. Hitting a 3 wood from 235 yards out, the ball landed on the green and ran through to the rough back left of the green. Fancher hit his third onto the green with a lengthy putt which he left five feet away for par, setting up Pringle to seal the win. His chip from the back rolled down to three feet, and with Fancher hat off, watched as Pringle rolled in his birdie putt for the win.
“I was pretty happy with the way I played,” said Fancher adding, “it was so back and forth on the back nine.” His biggest regret was the missed five-foot putt on the 9th hole to square the match.
“I’ll remember this forever!” winner Pringle said. I have to agree with that.