SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rich McDaniel got off to a rough start, but settled down after the first three holes, while Joe Moore used the support of his family, as both men nabbed the first two titles in the 2014 Golf Channel Am Tour Championships conducted at Talking Stick and Grayhawk golf clubs.
McDaniel, who held a nine-shot lead in the Jones Flight (handicap 16-19.9) going into the final round at Grayhawk's Raptor Course, bogeyed the first hole, topped his tee shot on the second hole for a double-bogey and almost missed a short putt for bogey on the third hole. In fact, after the second hole, his nine-shot lead was already down to six with 16 holes to go. Making double on the third hole could have started a downward spiral.
"I almost missed it," said McDaniel, who owns a real estate appraisal company in San Diego. "It went around the cup and dropped. It was going to be another double bogey, and I thought my tournament was over. But when it dropped, it just kind of released all the stress, and I said to myself, 'I'm ready, game on; let's go.'"
McDaniel wound up shooting 88, which was more than good enough as he finished four strokes better than the field, with a total of 335, 50-over par. His closest competitor, who shot the low round of the day at 81, was Clint Payton of Seymour, Ind., but he just had too much ground to make up.
"I'm on Cloud 9 right now," McDaniel said. "This was very fun and exciting."
McDaniel, who admits he has an addictive personality, says his compulsion for everything, including golf, might have helped him notch his first national title.
A few years ago, he quit the club where he was a member and just started playing tournament golf. This year, despite working 12-hour days, often seven days a week, he managed to play in 50 golf tournaments, many of the them on the Am Tour. That experience, combined with his volunteer work as a coach for his son's middle school golf team, helped him prepare for this week, he said.
Moore wins Snead flight
Joe Moore credited his whole family for his sucess this week, including son Craig and wife, Kim, who caddied for him.
For Moore, the fire chief for the Clarkdale (Ariz.) Fire District, winning the Golf Channel Am Tour's Snead flight (20 and over) truly was a family affair. In addition to Moore, his son Craig also competed in the Palmer Flight (handicap 4-6.9) and improved each day, finishing with 80 in the final round.
But the spotlight belonged to mom and dad on Friday. Both of them, because Joe Moore and his wife Kim played as a team. You see, Kim served as caddie for her husband, who was decked out like a tour player in long slacks, white belt and neon green shirt. Not only did she clean his golf balls and clubs and help with yardage, but he said she gave him the moral support and confidence to play his best. In the end his 94 on Friday on the North Course at Talking Stick was good enough to come from three shots back and claim the crystal.
"I honestly don't know if I could have done it without her," said Moore, who also heaped plenty of praise on tournament organizers, golf course staff and the courses as well.
Kim is very familiar with her husband's game. They play together almost every weekend as a family (including Craig) around their home in Cornville, Ariz., which is about 100 miles north of Scottsdale. Kim, in fact, is usually the organizer, gathering the troops, trying to figure out which course they're going to play in the area. Sometimes, they even make trips over to Sedona to play the courses there.
Perhaps playing all that desert golf gave Moore a bit of an edge over players from the rest of the country, but it certainly didn't come easy. He made several doubles and a quad, but also had five pars. Fortunately for Moore and the rest of the field, the third-round leader, Samuel D'Alfonso of Key Biscayne, Fla., had an even tougher day, shooting 103, which allowed Moore to walk through the door.