Dietz, Tefft pull away with late birdies to win Little Brown Jug golf tourney
Photo Gallery | Little Brown Jug golf tournament
DALTON -- It wasn't a pretty start for the team of Bill Tefft and Brent Dietz, but it certainly was a beautiful finish on Sunday in the Little Brown Jug at Wahconah Country Club.
After two early bogeys that briefly cost the Connecticut duo the lead, Tefft and Dietz birdied six of their final 10 holes, including three in a row, to pull away for a three-shot victory over two-time defending champions A.J. Oleksak and Pete Alminas of Longmeadow Country Club.
In all, the winners totaled eight birdies, five bogeys and five pars for a 3-under 68 in a roller-coaster round that gave them their third Jug victory. Tefft and Dietz, who led after 36 holes and finished at 13-under 200, also won the best-ball event in 2011 and 2012.
Oleksak and Alminas never got on a roll until finishing birdie-birdie for a 1-under 70. Those birdies secured them second place over three teams, including the Berkshire County pairing of Jeff Puleri (Berkshire Hills Country Club) and Randy Driscoll (Stockbridge Golf Club). Puleri and Driscoll shot a final-round 69. Also at 205 was the Bob Linn-Gary Burt pairing (67) along with Matt McCarroll and Chad Stouffer (69).
The par-4 fifth hole was the first of several turning points during the round for the top two teams. Coming off bogeys on Nos. 3 and 4 that cost them the lead, both Tefft and Dietz appeared to be in trouble again on the par-4 fifth. But Tefft miraculously holed out from the deep bunker that guards the right side of the green for a birdie while Oleksak three-putted for a bogey.
"It started out like a pillow fight," said Tefft of the slow start. "But then Bill made that miracle shot out of the bunker."
Back in front, however, the leaders weren't done making life difficult on themselves.
"It seemed like when we would do something good, we would then do something bad," Dietz said.
The birdie was followed by a bogey on the par-3 sixth when Tefft overshot the green and Dietz three-putted from 20 feet. Both teams birdied the par-5 seventh before Oleksak and Alminas bogeyed No. 8.
"I hit a flyer from the rough that went over the green, and Pete three-putted," Oleksak said.
On the uphill par-4 ninth, Dietz hit a beauty of an approach shot to 5 feet and made the putt for a birdie. That made it three pars, three birdies and three bogeys and a two-shot lead.
"After all that, even par," Tefft said to Dietz as the pair exited the green.
"The birdie on No. 9 got us back in a good place," Dietz said.
But, since bad seemed to following good in this round, the pair made a bogey on No. 10. No damage done, however, because their foes met the same fate.
Suddenly on No. 11, with both teams admittedly playing below their usual levels, it all changed. First, Oleksak drained a 20-foot birdie putt on the par 4 and Dietz followed by making a 6-foot birdie putt.
That started the pivotal stretch of three birdies in a row. Tefft hit his second shot on the par-4 12th to within 5 feet and made the putt. The 52-year-old then hit perhaps the prettiest shot of the day on the difficult par-3 13th hole, a laser of an iron to 10 feet. He made the putt and suddenly the lead had grown to four shots.
"When we made that birdie, I told Brent that we had to stay aggressive," he said. "We were still expecting them to make a run at some point."
Oleksak did cut the lead by one with a birdie on the par-5 14th thanks to a beautiful bunker shot, but any thoughts of a comeback were ended when the 44-year-old Dietz made a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 15.
"It wasn't the prettiest day," Oleksak said of his team's round. "But they played very well on the back nine. Making five birdies in eight holes is pretty solid golf."
The winners were pleased to win one for the old guys against a pair of long-hitting young guys (both Oleksak and Alminas are 28).
"I like it," said the cigar-smoking Tefft. "It seems like that's all I see."
The win will serve as a confidence booster for Dietz, who is preparing to defend the Connecticut Public Links Championship he won last year.
The other winner on Sunday was the beautifully conditioned Wahconah course and the Little Brown Jug. The tournament continues to draw full fields -- 112 teams -- and earn the praise of those who play in it.
"We'll be back as long as we are physically able," said Dietz, who lives in Enfield. "They do it right here."
"It's almost like a pro tournament, with the scoreboard and everything," said Tefft, who lives in Windsor. "This is the best tournament we play in. There is nothing like this in Connecticut."
To contact Richard Lord:
or (413) 496-6236.
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