No Picnic in Winning at This Beach

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Virginia Beach, Va. -- Not exactly the shot heard 'round the world,' but as far as Cliff Kresge is concerned, the stellar blast from the cabbage at the 16th hole at the TPC of Virginia Beach felt all-world in his book. It was a chip-in eagle to win for the first time on the Buy.Com Tour, climb to No. 3 on the money list and jump-start his run back to the PGA Tour where he played full-time in 2000.
 
What a shot under the circumstances as two exhausted golfers who'd battled the elements and arguably the tour's most demanding layout in sudden-death at the Virginia Beach Open.
 
This tournament was Aaron Oberholser's for much of the back nine on Sunday until Kresge decided to turn things in his favor with a late run. The 16th hole was really his 'step on the gas' hole all week. Including the playoff, Kresge was 5-under par on the hole for the week. On the flip-side, Oberholser was just 1-under. And in regulation for the four rounds Kresge was 5-under on holes 15, 16 and 17 combined. Oberholser was just 1-under.
 
Take nothing away from Aaron, however. He was solid, if not brilliant, for much of the weekend. For the last three rounds he made just two bogeys on the back nine. Unfortunately for him, one of those came at the 18th Sunday, which gave Kresge the chance to get in the playoff to begin with.
 
The great thing about the Virginia Beach Open is that birdies don't come in great bunches. It, once again, served as a great measuring stick for early season golf. Nobody gets to 20-under here! And the fact that Oberholser couldn't get up-and-down at 18 in regulation and Kresge got it up-and-in to win at the 16th in the playoff speaks volumes about the pressure to make all the shots and not just all the putts.
 
Oberholser, now 12th on the Buy.Com Tour money list, said afterward that he wouldn't care to have any one shot back. And he shouldn't have an ounce of regret. He may just win the money title this year. He's that talented. Wins on the Canadian Tour and a near-miss at the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament two years ago signaled his promise. This week solidifies his climb.
 
As for Kresge - Wow. Remember, this is the guy called 'over the Cliff' Kresge for his slip into the lake at Q-School that very same year that Oberholser slipped up with two holes to play, missing out on his card. Kresge grew up on a course in Orlando, went to school at the University of Central Florida, and says his greatest golf moment was making a 25-footer to help his collegiate Golden Knights advance in the NCAAs a few years back.
 
Something tells me things have changed a bit. The chip on Sunday at Virginia Beach may just be the blast the 33-year old Kresge needs to prove he belongs with the best.
 
And if I were a betting man, I'd figure on both men finishing in the top 15 at year's end. As of now, all they have to do is stay there.