Deal edges Poff in playoff for Echo Hills Match Play title


PIQUA — It was a shot fitting of a ring.

And a fitting way to end the Echo Hills match play tournament that featured numerous close matches and was a battle to the end.

Piqua City champion Brian Deal won over Hank Poff on the first playoff hole, the 321-yard opening hole with a sand wedge to a foot.

When, Poff’s chip from in front of the green ran past, he took off his hat and congratulated Deal on his win and earning the ring that goes with the title.

“Brian (Deal) is a great player,” Poff said. “I am happy to have made it this far. It was a lot of fun.”

Both players had hit errant tee shots on the playoff.

Poff was blocked out to the right and punched a shot up just short of the green.

Deal was well left, but found himself with an open shot.

“When I hit it off the tee, with it being into the wind, I thought I might be blocked,” Deal said. “But, it kept rolling so I figured I would be fine.”

He calmly hit his 54 degree sand wedge to gimme range.

“When, I hit it I thought it was going to be pretty good,” Deal said. “And it took a nice hop towards the hole.”

The handicap match — with Poff getting a stroke on eight different holes — started out calmly with four straight halves.

The match was still even going to the seventh hole.

Deal won the par-3 with a par, then birdied 8,9, 10 and 11 to open up a four-up lead with just seven holes remaining.

After using a sand wedge to set up birdie on 345-yard eighth hole, Deal hit driver 8-iron to hit the par-5 ninth green in two and two-putt for birdie.

On the 416-yard 10th hole, he hit driver, 7-iron and on 11, he hit another sand wedge to 20-feet for birdie.

“I really started hitting my irons well — and I thought I putted well,” Deal said. “I thought I made the eagle putt on nine, but it didn’t go in.”

Poff began the battle back by hitting a wedge to a foot for birdie on the par-5 12th hole, before they halved 13.

“I got a bad bounce on my drive on 13 (and had to punch out),” Poff said.

Still three down, he was short-sided on his second shot to the par-4 14th hole.

But, he bumped into the hill perfectly and it took one hop and rolled into the cup to cut the deficit to 2-down.

“That got me going,” Poff said. “I had to do something.”

Both players missed short birdie putts on the par-3 15th hole, before Poff’s drive on 16 was just short of the green and he got up and down for brdie to get back to 1-down.

On the 190-yard par-3 17th hole, Poff got a stroke but didn’t need it.

He rolled in a 30-foot put for par to square the match.

“That one squared it all up,” Poff said.

Both players parred the par-5 18th to send it back to the first tee and a playoff.

Both players shot 1-under par 35 on the back and Deal had a three-under par 69 and Poff carded a 75 for the round.

“It wasn’t a matter of me not playing well (on the back nine),” Deal said. “Hank played really well. We both did. I think I shot 69 and he shot 75.”

And Deal enjoyed the handicap aspect of the tournament.

“I think it makes it fair,” he said. “And you get to play against some guys you don’t normally play against. I think this was the third match in the tournament that went extra holes. The tournament went really well and was a lot of fun.”

With a match and final hole worthy of a ring.

Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at [email protected]

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