Kevin Kornowa exorcised some demons when he won the Toledo District Golf Association's Match Play Tournament yesterday, but he also continued to frustrate his opponent and friend Jamie Spencer.
Kornowa dominated from the start of the 36-hole event final at Highland Meadows Golf Club and walked away with an 8-and-7 victory over University of Toledo teammate Spencer. The two grew up together on the course at Highland Meadows with Spencer dominating when they were young and Kornowa taking control when they both attended St. John's Jesuit High School.
With the win, Kornowa erased a jinx which saw him lose the last two years in the match play finals. He also handed a second straight loss to Spencer, whom he beat in the TDGA's stroke play championship last year.
“We've always enjoyed the camaraderie,” Kornowa said. “We know each other's games so we knew what to expect. But I just tried to take it as another day on the golf course.”
Yet it was hardly a typical day at the course for Kornowa, who won seven of the first 13 holes while tying Spencer on the other six holes. After the first 18 holes, Kornowa had won eight and Spencer just one.
“He was just completely confident today,” Spencer said. “He had about 10 one-putts on the first 18 holes and I didn't make one. It's tough to beat someone who has no fear going at every pin.”
Kornowa, who usually plays around even par at the par-71 course, carded a six-under 65 to essentially end the event after the morning 18 holes. Spencer shot a 74.
“I felt pretty solid,” Kornowa said. “I just wanted to keep close to the greens and make birdies when I had the chance. I knew there were 18 left and I know what Jamie is capable of.”
In fact Spencer won two of the first four holes with birdies during the afternoon round.
“I tried not to force things but I did want to gamble a little bit,” Spencer said of his comeback bid.
But Kornowa countered with birdies of his own on No. 6 and No. 8.
“I was just trying to hang on,” he said. “I was trying to play solid and not make mistakes.”
Both parred the ninth hole, forcing Spencer to win every one of the last nine holes. Spencer did win at No. 10 with a par while Kornowa two-putted for a bogey. But both parred No. 11 and Kornowa took home the first of the TDGA's two major individual trophies.
Both UT golfers won four matches to reach the finals of the 32-player field. On Saturday, both were forced to go all 18 holes before knocking off their opponents. Kornowa topped his former St. John's teammate Chris Boyd Jr. in the semifinals and Spencer disposed of UT teammate Phil Trueblood.
While Spencer and Trueblood have not secured starting positions on the Toledo team, Kornowa is one of the team's top three golfers. Last month the Rockets finished 18th in the Division I NCAA tournament.
“I used to beat him pretty consistently when we were younger,” Spencer said. “But he's peaked over the last few years. He's really blossomed into a really nice player. It's nice to see him hitting it better because next year we're (UT) going to do extremely well.”
But first Kornowa will attempt to repeat as the TDGA's stroke play champion next month and sweep the organization's two main events.
“I lost the last two years here, so this felt good to finally win,” Kornowa said.