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Terry Tyson constantly had to fight from behind at the Toledo Metro Golf Association's S.P. Jermain match-play championships this weekend.
Tyson again trailed late in his head-to-head match with longtime friend John Hills in the finals of the Championship Flight yesterday at Ottawa Park.
Hills was 1-up on Tyson entering the 15th hole. But Tyson rallied by winning that par-5 hole and went ahead for good with a birdie on No. 16.
Tyson captured his first TMGA match-play title with a 1-up win over Hills.
Tyson said he found himself behind in nearly all five of his matches of the three-day tournament and did not get squared or take the lead until the 17th hole in every head-to-head battle.
"I just hung in there in all the matches," he said. "This feels good. I'm playing well enough. I feel real good about hanging in again today."
Tyson, a 56-year-old from Perrysburg, has now won two of the TMGA's four major events this year. He won the Great Lakes Spring Amateur in early June at Maumee Bay State Park.
Hills, also 56 and a Sylvania resident, won the match-play event three years ago.
Hills was 1-up after 14 holes. But Tyson then took advantage of miscues by Hills on hole No. 15. Hills shanked his approach shot and it hit a tree on the par-5 hole. After working out of a bunker, Hills missed a chip for a bogey, and the match was all even after 15 holes.
"It was a catastrophic mistake," Hills said. "I was trying to hit the ball too hard. I was trying to get home in two which I didn't need to. I was up one, and he was in trouble. I shouldn't have been swinging that hard. That was a disastrous mistake."
Tyson jumped on the error when he made a birdie at 16 to go 1 up. A solid drive set Tyson up 70 yards from the hole just to the right of the center of the fairway. A wedge then put him just eight feet from the cup as he was able to birdie. Hills' approach shot traveled just off the green and onto the fringe. His third shot on the par 4 traveled just left of the hole.
On No, 18, Tyson clinched it with a birdie attempt from 35 feet away that came within a foot of going in. Hills, whose third shot on the par-4 final hole was a chip shot onto the green, then conceded the match.
"I had come in second a number of years ago," Tyson said. "But this is my first."
The finals featured tough pin placement.
"The pins were a little sporty today," Tyson said. "The birdies were really tough to come by."
There were 32 golfers in each of the four Flights of the match-play tournament.
In the finals of the second-highest division, the A Flight, Mike Kennedy defeated Dan McCloskey 5-and-3 yesterday.
In the B Flight, Al Szczublewski knocked off Scott Daney 3-and-1. In the C Flight, James Beach defeated John Connelly 3-and-2.
Hills, who beat the defending champion Kevin Kitchen 4-and-2 in the semifinals on Saturday, was 3-under par before his struggles at No. 15.
"[Saturday] I played as good as I could play," Hills said. "I played beautifully. Today it was good. But you always think you can do better."
At 17, Tyson's drive hit a tree but it somehow dropped straight down and gave him a good lie. Tyson said it was the only lucky break he had during the tournament.
Tyson missed a 15-foot downhill birdie putt that would have given him the win on the hole. Hills, who is the son of the famous golf course designer Arthur Hills, made a great chip shot from the back of the fringe that landed within three feet of the hole. Both took par on the hole.
"We play a lot of golf together," Hills said.
The duo also played as a pair at the TMGA Spring Amateur and also finished one-two in that event.
"I know John really well. You can't make bogies because you're giving away a hole," Tyson said. "So I didn't make many bogies the whole tournament. That is the key to match play."
Tyson will seek to become the first golfer to capture all four TMGA major events in one summer.
The next major for the organization is the Toledo Amateur Championship on Aug. 12-14 at Detwiler Golf Course. The final major event is the Tom Wolf Memorial Classic on Sept. 10-11.
"You play golf long enough and something like that can happen," Tyson said, chuckling.
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6354