E.A. Sports Today

Down to the wire

Pine Hill’s Etter rallies from early deficit, comes up short on 18 in PGA Section Match Play final 

By East Alabama Sports Today

Cory Etter rallied from a 4-down deficit on the front nine to get within a 30-foot birdie putt on 18 to extend the match before falling 1-up to Todd Bailey Wednesday in the Alabama-NW Florida PGA Section Match Play Championship at Montgomery CC.

Pine Hill’s Etter, the defending champion, was 4-down through seven holes after Bailey, a 52-year-old pro from Daphne, made the last of three straight birdies, but he cut his deficit in half by the turn.

“I knew I was in trouble (4 down),” Etter said. “I don’t get down four too many times and it wasn’t because of my game. It was because he just kept making birdies. He made three in a row and they were tough. That puts a lot of pressure on you.

“When he three-putted 8 and I birdied 9 I said, ‘OK, I’m only 2-down making the turn and I’ve got a chance.” 

He went 3-down on 10 after he couldn’t find his drive in thick dormant rough just off the fairway. He remained 3-down with four holes to play, but won 15 and 17 to get it within one with one to play.

Both players hit good drives on 18. Etter’s second shot finished 30 feet above the front pin, while Bailey left himself a 12-foot sidehill slider. Etter’s putt stopped a foot short, Bailey missed his putt and both players completed their two-putts to close the match.

“He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and I knew going into it I had to make a lot of birdies,” Etter said. “I made five and got beat.”

Still, he has a strong record in the event. In the last three years, he has finished third, first and second. In this year’s tournament he defeated South Alabama’s Matt Luther, Prattville’s Robbie Blackwell, Vestavia CC’s Matt Workman and FarmLinks’ Curtis Ohrn. 

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