THUNDER BAY – With Evan and John DeGrazia hot on their tails, Colin Sobey and Scott Glomba might have been guilty of looking over their shoulders as they tried to close out their first Mallon's Play It Again Sports Better Ball championship.
A bogey on the par three seventh could have sent their round spiralling out of control.
Instead it proved to be the turning point.
Sobey left himself a nine-iron into the par 5 eighth green, hit the green and buried the eagle putt and paved the way for the duo's one-shot win over Team DeGrazia, the tournament's two-time defending champions.
Sobey, 38, drained another birdie putt on 11 and Glomba returned the favour on the par 5 15th, sinking a five-foot putt to maintain a two-shot lead at the time.
After opening Saturday with a 10-under 61, the longtime partners Sobey and Glomba entered Sunday's final round at Strathcona Golf Course with a four-shot lead over the DeGrazias and the team of Fletcher and Cooper Anderson.
It was a character-building triumph, Sobey said.
“It was a grind today,” Sobey said. “I'm glad we had a little leeway there coming into today. We had a great day yesterday and had a four-shot lead, but Evan, he's one of the best in town and you've got to try to stay ahead of him.
“He was grinding us to the end, right to the last hole.”
The younger DeGrazia, who later this summer will play in eight Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada events, and his father John, made the turn at three-under par, birdied the 14th to cut the leaders' advantage to two and kept pace on the 15th with a second straight birdie.
Evan DeGrazia had a shot at a third straight birdie on the 16th, dropping his pitch shot to five feet. But he slid his birdie putt to the left of the hole and had to settle for par.
“I also let one slide on eight, but there's not much you can do. You miss putts, you make putts, but overall it was a pretty good day,” said Evan DeGrazia, whose team fired a six-under 66, the low round of the day, including a birdie at the last, forcing Sobey and Glomba to sink one of two chances at par to avoid a playoff.
With the DeGrazias and Walter Keating Jr. and Jack Moro nipping at their heels on the back nine – until a late bogey on the 17th killed the latter team's chances, Glomba said it was just a matter of keeping the ball in play and avoiding trouble.
It's easier said than done sometimes, but the strategy worked.
“We tried to make our par putts and when we had a chance to make birdie we tried to capitalize when we could. Evan pushed us right to the last hole, but we came out clutch and (Colin) made the par putt. It was a one-shot victory and now we're the champs,” Glomba said.
The pair finished with a three-under 69 for the round, for a two-day 13-under 130 total.
Keating and Moro took third at 134, while Hank and Scott Wilkie were fourth, two shots further back.
“This is huge,” the 54-year-old Glomba said. “This is the best field Thunder Bay's had in probably 10 years. We beat a lot of younger guys that are playing in this and it feels pretty good for us to win it.”