WARRENTON — No matter what sport you’re talking about, never underestimate the experience factor. And home field advantage is pretty nice, too.
Two golfers with loads of experience and a couple more with that home course edge took advantage of their good fortune Saturday, on the final day of match play in the Oregon Coast Invitational.
The 108th annual tournament concluded with finals in all divisions. Spectators at the Astoria Golf & Country Club were treated to several thrilling matches that went down to the last hole, and one that went to a sudden death playoff hole.
The championship flight of the men’s grand champions division came down to Adam Harrington vs. Harrison Moir.
Over 36 holes, the two were never separated by more than two strokes all day. Harrington was 1-up after 35 holes, before Moir tied the match on the 36th.
For the third time of the day, the two golfers headed to the No. 1 fairway, to play the 37th hole of the match.
Moir’s second shot landed on the green and rolled within inches of the cup. He finished the match with a three-foot putt that clinched the victory.
A 2012 graduate of Lake Oswego High School, Moir is the first member of Waverley Country Club to win the grand champions division since David Jacobsen in 2002.
Experience was definitely a deciding factor in the women’s final, between 10-time champion Lara Tennant and first-time participant Alex McMenamin.
Tennant won her 11th title by building a solid lead in the morning round, then closing out the match on the 13th hole (31st overall) of the afternoon round, for a 7&5 final score.
“I started off a little slow, then the backside in the morning I really played well,” Tennant said. “I had four birdies, that got my momentum going, and I just kept it going.”
And the experience factor?
“It always helps, but you still have to hit the shots,” Tennant said. “But experience definitely helps. I’ve been in the finals before, and I understand that over 36 holes, it can be up and down. You just have to keep it going.”
Tennant won her first Coast title in 1990 — roughly 10 years before McMenamin was born.
“It was her first Coast,” Tennant said. “She played smart, consistent golf. She played very well (Friday, in a semifinal win over Gigi Stoll).”
Tennant hit a long birdie putt on the first hole of the afternoon round, but her key stretch came midway through the morning round.
The match was even through eight holes, before Tennant went 1-up on nine, 2-up after 10, 3-up on the 11th and 4-up on 12. She was 5-up by the 15th hole.
“I liked my birdie on the first hole in the afternoon,” she said. “That was a good putt, and even though I was up, it helps to know you’re going in the right direction.”
In other championship flight finals, three Astoria club members scored victories on their home course.
Leading the way was Jack Cartwright in the super seniors division.
Cartwright won his first super seniors title by outlasting Gaylord Davis, who made a late charge and took the match to the 18th hole.
“I was 2-up going into 15, and we both birdied,” Cartwright said. “He birdied 16 and we both parred 17 and 18. It was a close match. We were close the whole way.”
Davis nearly swung the match in his favor, when his tee shot on the 17th rolled past the pin by inches.
“That would have been fun to watch that go in,” Cartwright said, in the spirit of sportsmanship. “Mr. Davis is a real gentleman, and it was more than fun to play with him. When you get into a match like this, we were both having fun and playing pretty well. ... I was longer off the tee than he was (Cartwright even drove the green on the eighth hole). That was the only difference. He’s got all game in the world.”
It was the seventh overall Coast title for Cartwright, who won six times in the junior seniors division, his last title coming in 2010.
He definitely earned the comeback golfer of the year award.
“Since I was winning the junior seniors, it’s been a while,” he said. “I had a heart attack two years ago and a knee replaced last year. I’m just now getting back to playing golf.
“I bought some new irons, and it’s the difference between night and day. I’m hitting these irons 20 or 30 yards farther than I’d been hitting. And I’m hitting ‘em more solid. Technology and golf … you can’t ignore it.”
Elsewhere, Astoria’s Dotty Johnson had the distinction of winning the first-ever women’s seniors title, which was added this year.
Terry Mattson and Johnson finished first and second, respectively, in qualifying last weekend, but Johnson scored the win over Mattson in Saturday’s match play.
Johnson got past Vicki Okazaki in Friday’s semifinal match, before winning her third match in three days Saturday.
Another championship for another Astoria golfer was won by Patrick Regan, who defeated Robert Tennant in the final of the seniors division.
Regan had to get past Astoria’s Doug Wiese in the semifinals Friday.
The only medalist in last weekend’s qualifying to also win a championship flight in match play was Columbia Edgewater’s Bill Winter, who defeated Peter Jennings in the junior/seniors final.
Winter’s week started with a 5-under par 67 in qualifying, and ended with his first junior/seniors title.