Jul. 22—Owensboro's Andy Roberts and Central City's Scott Ray, two of the state's top amateur golfers, captured wins in the final round of the KGA Kentucky State Match Play Championships on Wednesday at Owensboro Country Club.
Roberts defeated Paducah's Joshua Rhodes 5&4 to win his first open division title in state match play, while Ray edged Albany's David Horning in 19 holes for his second consecutive victory in the senior division.
"This is the one I had never won," said Roberts, 41, who's collected victories in the Kentucky Open, Kentucky Amateur and Kentucky Mid-Am in the past. "I'm getting old, so I know there aren't many more years I'll have the opportunity to win this."
Roberts won the fourth and fifth holes to pull ahead early, then added to his advantage with another win on No. 7. Victories on Nos. 11 and 12 put Roberts ahead by five holes — proving to be an insurmountable lead.
Though both Roberts and Rhodes played a bogey-free round, Roberts finished at 8-under par through the round's 14 holes.
"I drove the ball really well today, and I putted pretty well too," Roberts said. "I had the tee box after No. 4. That was the first hole I won, and I had the tee box the rest of the day. I never really gave him an easy hole again.
"I was always in play, in a good position, to where he was going to have to make a really good shot."
Though Roberts entered the tournament with confidence, he admitted that he hadn't been playing his best golf for several weeks. A training lesson in Long Beach, California, along with competing at such a familiar course this week, was a nice boost against a talented field, he said.
"You definitely feel 10 times more comfortable playing at your home club," Roberts said. "You know how the ball's going to bounce, where to miss it and how putts are going to roll.
"There's pressure, too, because people are expecting you to win just because it's your home course. It's never going to be easy when you've got a lot of really good players to go up against."
On the senior side, Wednesday's action was more of a back-and-forth affair.
Ray led by two through the first nine holes, but Horning rallied back to tie the match with victories on Nos. 14 and 16. Horning's 10-foot putt on No. 18 forced the extra hole, which Ray birdied to claim the one-stroke overall victory.
"David and I didn't play our best today, which might just be a product of being tight in the finals, but we had a great match," said Ray, who hadn't played past 14 holes in any of the tournament's previous three rounds. "He played super fast, and it was fun to go up against him."
Even though it was his second straight State Match Play title, Ray didn't take it for granted.
"These match play victories mean a lot to me, though, because it's so different than what you usually get in stroke play," he said. "I made a double bogey on the 11th today and lost that hole, but it meant nothing by the time I was on the 12th.
"It's just such a fun format to play, and I'm honored to win it for a second consecutive year."