E.A. Sports Today

High five

[corner-ad id=2]Gardendale’s Sapp takes advantage of his favorite part of the course to win Cane Creek’s pro event a second time

Kyle Sapp (C) stands with the winners' check Sunday surrounded by (from left) runner-up Zach Portemont, Emerald Coast Tour director Geno Celano, Jaylon Ellison, Cane Creek director of golf Kenny Szuch and third-place finisher Mason Seaborn.

Kyle Sapp (C) stands with the winners’ check Sunday surrounded by (from left) runner-up Zach Portemont, Emerald Coast Tour director Geno Celano, Jaylon Ellison, Cane Creek director of golf Kenny Szuch and third-place finisher Mason Seaborn.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

No matter how hairy things got on the back nine Sunday afternoon, Kyle Sapp always knew he had a safety net just across the road.

All he had to do, he figured, was keep it together long enough to get to the 14th tee and things were going to work out all right.

The five-hole homestretch of Cane Creek Golf Course has always been Sapp’s favorite section of the course and now he has even more reason to like it.

It was there the 30-year-old Gardendale pro did all the things he needed to nail down the Fort McClellan Credit Union Pro-Invitational and become the first multiple winner of the pro segment in the tournament’s history.

Sapp came back across the road clinging to a one-shot lead after Zach Portemont missed a four-foot birdie putt to tie and proceeded to birdie three in a row to stretch his lead to three. He sank a testy seven-footer for par on 18 to slam the door on his second Cane Creek win in four years.

He played the final five holes Sunday in 3-under-par – 6-under for the week – and shot even-par 72 to finish at 2-under 214. Portemont shot up the leaderboard with the two best rounds of the weekend – 70-69 – but came up one shot short.

Sapp almost chipped in for eagle on 14, his approach running past the hole by inches. He almost holed a 6-iron on the par-3 15th with what he called the best swing he made all week. And then he drained a 40-foot bomb on 16.

“That’s my stretch,” he said. “I’ve always played it well. There’s just something about it. If I can get there I’m probably going to play a lot better.

“The whole time I was just waiting for 14. Sure. Absolutely. I couldn’t wait to get there. I don’t know what it is about that stretch but I just get super comfortable once I get to that tee right there. I don’t know; I love it.”

Sapp started the day with a three-shot lead and extended it to five early in the round, but he started coming back to the field with three “unnecessary” bogeys by admittedly playing “a little too careful.”

Portemont passed his other two playing partners to move into a position to tie for the lead on 13. He hit what he considered a good putt, but it caught something on the way to the hole and didn’t fall.

Sapp said he knew the battle was tight but didn’t realize that putt was for a share of the lead. Portemont was disappointed he missed, but not discouraged because even though they were heading to Sapp’s favorite part of the course he felt there were plenty of opportunities coming up to apply pressure.

“I was in chase mode all week,” Portemont said. “I made a few mistakes the first day that put me way behind. … I had all opportunities to do it; I just didn’t do it.

“When he made that birdie putt (on 15) it put me a little behind, but the big one was that 35-footer down the hill (on 16).”

The former Troy player made birdie at 17 to stay alive, but he still needed some luck at 18 to force a playoff.

He flared his second shot to the right of the green, but Sapp was having trouble getting to the putting surface, leaving his third shot short of the green.

Portemont’s eagle chip ran about four feet past the hole but still left him in good position for birdie. That meant Sapp had to par the hole to avoid a playoff and the 5 wasn’t guaranteed.

Sapp used his unanchored long putter from off the green for his fourth shot, but knew he didn’t hit the ball hard enough when he struck it and it stopped seven feet short. Not wanting to go extra holes, he confidently stroked the putt home and punched the air when it disappeared into the cup.

“It was definitely my best pressure putt this year so far,” he said.

Two players with local ties finished in the top five. Defending champion Garrett Burgess of Oxford posted Sunday’s only other pro round under par and finished tied for third with rookie Mason Seaborn, who cashed his first check as a pro. Former Anniston resident Jaylon Ellison finished fifth.

Fort McClellan Credit Union Pro-Invitational
Pro Division
Final scores

Kyle Sapp, Gardendale, $3,000 71-71-72—214
Zach Portemont, Andalusia, $1,500 76-70-69—215
Mason Seaborn, Fairhope, $850 73-72-76—221
Garrett Burgess, Oxford, $850 78-72-71—221
Jaylon Ellison, Atlanta $400 77-71-74—222
Glenn Northcutt, Dothan 71-78-75—224
Andy Shim, Atlanta 73-74-78—225
Neal Grusczynski, Milwaukee, Wis. 75-75-76—226
Tommie Bush, Pensacola, Fla. 82-75-83—240
Thomas Joiner, Tallahassee, Fla. 78-84-78—240
Jordan Anderton, Maylene 82-76-83—241
a-Stephen Garner, Albany, Ga. 77-81-84—242
Daniel Alldredge, Point Clear 81-83-86—250
Ethyn Roberts, Weaver 88-83-81—252
Geno Celano, Destin, Fla. 83-87-88—258
Jake Spott, Anniston 75-75-NC

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