Cox captures third HPGA Memorial title

·4 min read

May 24—HIGH POINT — With three birdies in his last four holes Sunday, Marc Cox won the HPGA Memorial golf tournament at Blair Park for the third time.

Sinking a short putt and making 4 on the par-5 18th hole, Cox shot a final-round bogey-free 67 to go with an opening 69 on Saturday for 8-under par 136. He edged first-round leader Anthony Baker and Curtis Brotherton by a stroke.

The victory for the 64-year-old Cox comes 10 years after his most recent HPGA win. He notched the first one in 1999.

Brotherton, needing a birdie on 18 to force a playoff, made par 18 for a 69, one more than a 68 on Saturday. Baker, who also made birdie on the final hole, shot 2-under 70 to go with a first round 67. Buck Hall finished fourth at 69-69 —138, and Jay Baity was another stroke back at 68-71 — 139.

Baker, Brotherton and Baity were in the final group, with Cox and Hall just ahead and allowed to play from the senior (white) tees and less yardage because they are over 50 years old.

Cox biridied 15, 17 and 18. The birdie on 17 put him in a tie for the lead with Brotherton, who had made birdie to go ahead on 16 after driving onto the green while Baker didn't clear the trees guarding the green and made bogey to drop from one ahead to one back.

On 18, Cox knocked his second shot about 25 from the pin. He left his eagle try about a foot from the hole and rapped in the birdie putt.

"I hit a so-so tee ball but I hit a good second shot to about 25 feet below the hole and then two-putted," Cox said. "I knew I was close. I was waiting on 16 tee and heard that Anthony was 7-under and Curtis was 6. Later, I heard Anthony bogeyed 16 and the other two guys birdied. I assumed there was going to be a playoff. That's why I didn't put my clubs up when I came in. But fortunately there wasn't."

Brotherton made a par save on the par-3 17th after hitting his tee shot over the green. On 18, he hit his tee shot left and onto bare dirt almost at the tree line. His second shot found the bunker in front of the green. He pitched about 20-feet past the hole and two putted for par.

"I really didn't feel like I quite had it today," Brotherton said. "The last hole, I thought I hit a good second shot and can't believe it didn't clear the bunker. But I put myself in a tough spot off the tee. The up-and-down on 17 was great."

Baker, seeking his first HPGA title, birdied four of his first seven holes to get to 9-under and looked as if might win with ease. But he bogeyed No. 9 after leaving his approach shot short of the green and then double-bogeyed 10 in an adventure that included a tee shot to the edge of the trees and underbrush to the left, a second shot over the green, his third into a bunker in front of the green, a chip on and two putts, dropping to 6-under.

On 15, he pitched on to about five feet of the hole and made birdie to reach 7-under and go ahead of Brotherton, then gave the lead away on 16.

Brotherton also started hot, eagling No.1 to tie Baker and then matched Baker's birdie on No. 2. Brotherton played the remaining 16 holes in even-par. Tee shots into creeks on 5 and 13 resulted in bogeys and he birdied 7 in addition to 16.

"Two creek balls, that was the difference," Brotherton said.

Baity again struggled with his short game, which he said was the result of balance issues that have been ongoing since a bout with COVID-19 put him in the hospital.

"I was never a threat," Baity said. "I never got anything going. But, from being almost dead four months ago to now, I'm in a good place."

Other flight winners were Justin Franklin (first), Brandon Harder (second), Johnny Hopkins (third), Eddie Shipman (fourth), Jerry Odell (fifth) and Ben Bowers (sixth).

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