Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Odd Rule Keeps Cup from Pros; Amateurs Finish in a Tie, Thanks to a Local Injury Regulation

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Odd Rule Keeps Cup from Pros; Amateurs Finish in a Tie, Thanks to a Local Injury Regulation

Article excerpt

Byline: GARRY SMITS

In 17 years of big shots, clutch putts and momentum swings, a twist was added to Underwood Cup Matches history Tuesday at Timuquana Country Club -- a retroactive half-point awarded to the amateur team because of a regulation regarding injuries.

The rule helped the amateurs forge a 12-12 tie for the second year in a row. As a result, the amateurs, who trailed the club professionals 11-8 before the controversial decision, retained the Cup they won in 2006 by a score of 12 1/2-12.

It was the first time in the history of the annual match-play event that there have been back-to-back ties. Five times in the past nine years, the final margin has been a half-point or less.

The stunning turn of events late in the singles round came after playing captain Todd Bork of the professional team defeated Mike Ellison 5 and 4, winning the last four holes. Ellison began experiencing back pain after his tee shot at the 10th hole, noticeable even to Bork.

"You could tell something was wrong -- especially when I was walking up the 11th fairway, looked around, and didn't see Mike," Bork said. "Then I saw him ... back on the 11th tee trying to stretch his back. He was hurt, clearly."

When the match was over, assistant amateur captain Doug Conkey brought a section of the Cup Match regulations to the attention of Bork and amateur captain Steve Horner, which calls for each team to get a half-point if a player is unable to continue because of an injury. No mention is made of the duration of the match or if it has been completed or not.

Bork agreed to taking a half-point away from the professional total and adding a half-point to the amateurs' score. At the time, the pros had forged an 11-8 lead and were a victory and a draw away from winning the Underwood Cup for the first time since 2004.

"It was my call," Bork said in not protesting the challenge. "I was playing well at the time, but I only had a one-hole lead when Mike got hurt, and there's no telling how well he would have played if he had not gotten hurt. …

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