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By Ray Schatz
Special to The Beacon
After 30 great matches over 40 days, the Crow Creek Men’s Golf Association played the final match of its third annual Match Play Championship on March 9 between Carl Graves (the Wisconsin Badger) and Ralph Eckley (the Virginia Tech Hokie). To reach this stage of the tournament, Graves and Eckley had to win their first four matches in this 32-player, single-elimination event.
Adding to the intrigue of the championship match was the perspective of the David vs. Goliath tale. Graves is a tall man (6 feet, 6 inches) and Eckley is shorter (5-6). Graves has a large build and Eckley has a slight build. Graves hits the ball
long but sometimes crooked; Eckley hits the ball moderately long but always straight.
But here is where the story veers from the familiar tale of opposite traits between the players (David vs. Goliath) to a familiar tale of similar traits (Arnie vs. Jack): Graves and Eckley are retired engineers, each has an 11 handicap, each has a huge competitive spirit, each loves the game of golf and each is a gentleman.
As expected, the championship match was a contested event.
The front nine was back and forth until Graves won the ninth hole for a 2 up lead at the turn. Graves seemed in control by winning the 10th hole and stayed at 3 up until Eckley won the 13th and 15th holes to get to 1 down.
A rare bad tee shot by Eckley on the par-3 16th hole let Graves get back to 2 up. Both players had openings on No. 17, but a well-struck putt by Eckley did not drop into the hole and that allowed Graves to win the hole and win the match.
Walt Fedyna and Ray Schatz reached the semifinals and George Aubrey, Bob Bazydlo, Ray Hickey and Jerry Zimmerman for reached the quarterfinals.