When they tied the ninth and final hole with pars, Cody Balon and Brett Blackstock were sent back to the fairway for a final one-shot, winner-take-all chipping contest. Cries from the gallery to send the horses back to the ninth tee fell on deaf ears. It would be a chip-off to decide the winner of the horse race.
It was a big weekend at the Woodlawn Golf Club as the course hosted the two-day Woodlawn Classic and Saturday evening Kudu Horse Race. It was an even bigger weekend for Balon, who bested the field in both events.
After the first round of the Classic on Saturday, 12 golfers qualified for the tournament's horse race, a nine-hole match play competition that sees all golfers play together. At the end of each hole, the golfer with the highest score is eliminated (two for the first two holes). Any ties are settled by a chip-off where the golfer whose chip finished furthest from the pin is eliminated.
Balon proved to be the horse with the most giddy-up, surviving chipping contests on Hole 2 and 5, before winning it with the close chip on Hole 9.
"When I chipped it, I figured it was gonna be good, but I got told later that (Blackstock) was really close too," said Balon. "It was tight. I'd never won the horse race before."
Blackstock won a chipping contest on Hole 8 to get to the final hole against Balon but couldn't hold off his competitor a second time in a row.
Balon said the horse race is the event to compete in during the Woodlawn Classic weekend.
"Playing in the horse race is what everyone looks forward to the most. It can get pretty nerve-wracking, but you just try to do as well as you can."
Balon shot a 77 earlier on Saturday for the first round of competition in the Classic. He was seven shots back of Brendon Grube heading into Sunday's round but kept the momentum of the night before and shot a round of 68, losing a shot to the field with only one bogey in the final round. It was his second win at the Classic, after being crowned the champion in 2010, the last time the tournament was held.
"I thought I was out of it," he said of the gap between him and the leader at the start of the day Sunday. "The group I was playing with today was so relaxed, I really wasn't even thinking about golf. It was fun."
He may not have been thinking about golf, but his game was certainly tuned in. He has never shot a bogey-free round, so with the single blemish on his scorecard, he played as well as he ever has.
"After nine I thought, 'OK, let's just try and maintain what I'm doing here,' and I tried to play as good as I could. I just figured that everything else was out of my control, so I just tried to go as low as I could. Leading up to the tournament I wasn't putting very well. Today I never was really that far out, so the putts were just dropping."
As he went low, Grube and the rest of the field went the other way. After an opening round of 70, Grube couldn't keep the ball rolling, shooting 78 on day two, finishing three shots back in second place. There were three others who started the day ahead of Balon, after they all posted first round scores of 75.
"I thought scores would be low (Sunday) because it was so nice out, and I thought they were going to be higher (Saturday)," added Balon.
Other top finishers over the weekend were Dave Price, who won the first flight with a total of 166; Jim Larter who shot 164 to win the second flight; Doug Cairns won the third flight posting a 177; and Terry Rohatyn won the senior flight shooting a 152 gross score and a net 136.