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Jackson area golfer Scott Denig follows through on a drive during the championship match of the Lyle Ambs Memorial Golf Tournament at Ella Sharp Park Golf Course on Sunday.  Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.

By Jeff Steers
JTV Sports

(June 27, 2021 8:18 PM) There was no time like the present according to both finalists playing in the Lyle Ambs Memorial Golf Tournament at Ella Sharp Park Golf Course on Sunday.

Qualifying was rained out on June 19 but completed on Saturday – meaning the championship flight could be completed on time if three 18-hole matches were played on Sunday. 

Scott Denig and Colin O’Connell decided to give it a go about 2:30 p.m. on Sunday after winning a pair of championship matches earlier in the day. An empty course allowed for the players to play at a quicker pace.

Denig trailed 1-down after nine holes but won holes 10 and 11 with pars to go one ahead. 

The championship match was all square when O’Connell parred No. 12. Denig took the lead for good with a birdie on No 15. 

The major is a second for Denig after he won the Jackson City Championship in 2017 – a key year for the golfer. 

“I went through a learning curve playing college golf for Walt Paszkiet at Jackson College in 2017,” Denig said. “I was learning how to play the game mentally … think my way through shots.

“The training from 2017 – slowing everything down – helped out with the grueling stretch of play today.”

Denig said he began to make bad swings on hole No. 9 with a “tired driver swing.”

“I had to make adjustments on the back nine by slowing down my tempo and moving the ball back in my stance,” Denig said. “I already knew it was going to be a long weekend.

“It would have been a struggle to play (the championship match) during the week because I don’t get out of work until 5:30 or so.”

Denig shot a 1-under-par 69 in the finals and O’Connell shot 70 – including a 33 on the front nine. 

The quarterfinals were played in the championship flight on Sunday beginning at 8 a.m. Cody Lysher defeated defending champion Justin Bunch 5-and-4. O’Connell defeated Bret Valkuchak by the same score to set up a semifinal match against Lysher. O’Connell needed 20 holes to defeat Lysher 1-up.

Riley Hestwood defeated Greg Zeller 4-and-3 in a quarterfinal match. Denig won 3-and-2 against Conor Spencer in the other quarterfinal. Denig defeated Hestwood 4-and-3 in the semifinal setting up the final against O’Connell.

Denig was the No. 7 seed in the tournament after qualifying with a 71 and O’Connell was the No. 5 seed qualifying with an even-par 70. 

Qualifying was held on Saturday and one match was played in the 16-player championship field – meaning eight golfers would be alive for the championship title starting play on Sunday. 

Normally qualifying is a week before matches start. Two matches are played on both Saturday and Sunday to complete the tournament. 

Chris Chaney won the first flight with a 4-and-3 win over Tom Raymond. Raymond defeated Jim Coutu 4-and-3 in the semifinal and Chaney’s opponent withdrew.

In the second flight, Jake Zyla won the title with a 1-up win over Matt Brown. Zyla defeated Max Walz 2-and-1 in the semifinals on Sunday morning and Brown won 2-up over Ray Hill. 

The course was closed for most of the day on Sunday due to high volumes of rain on Friday and Saturday night. It allowed players to complete their matches quickly without worrying about other players in front or behind them on the public course. 

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