ST. CLAIRSVILLE - It was a historic afternoon of golfing that 19-year-old Adam Jeffries won't soon forget.
The St. Clairsville High School graduate and Alderson-Broaddus University sophomore-to-be fired a sizzling 2-under par to Sunday overcome a slow start and capture the 2014 Belmont Hills Country Club Championship with a 54-hole total of 220.
That was six strokes better than multiple-time champion James Carson, who was the leader after 36 holes by three shots. Jeffries becomes the youngest BHCC Club Champion in recent memory, according to club officials.
ADAM JEFFRIES, left, and Kelly Hanlon were crowned club champions at Belmont Hills Country Club Sunday. Jeffries won the men’s title, with Hanlon taking the women’s.
"It's amazing. Winning is awesome, but playing with James was cool," Jeffries admitted. "Our families are close. James' mother and my grandmother are close. It was nice to play with him.
"I hit the ball really well and my putting finally came around at the end," Jeffries added. "Saturday and earlier today my putting wasn't so good. I was striking the ball solid every time, my driver was working, and my putter started working today. I was able to make some birdies."
Entering Sunday's final 18 holes under ideal conditions on the picturesque layout, Jeffries trailed Carson by three shots. Jeffries picked up two strokes on the front nine before catching fire on the back nine where he fired a 34. His 18-hole score of 70 was the best of the tournament, eclipsing Carson's 71 during the opening round.
While Carson and Dave Reasbeck Sr., the third member of the final grouping, were struggling on the back nine, Jeffries started out on fire and actually took the lead on the 12th when he birdied and Carson had a critical double-bogey.
However, it was Jeffries' clutch second shot on the pivotal 15th, a Par 4, dogleg right, that turned the tide. His drive settled under a group trees to the left of the fairway, approximately 130 yards from the flag. He punched the ball under the trees and into the fairway where it skipped onto the green, rolled up a hill and stopped a few feet from the cup. He drained the ensuing putt for a birdie and then watched Carson card a triple bogey. The 4-shot swing all but sealed the deal.
"I couldn't hit a normal pitching wedge, so I had to hit it left," he explained of the incredible shot that drew a round of applause from the nice-sized gallery that followed the trio around the course. "I used my 7-iron to try and run it up on the green. I didn't care where it went, as long as it was on the green. I ended up getting a good bounce that put me to within about four feet. I tapped it in."
That turnaround gave Jeffries a comfortable lead with three holes remaining.
"I didn't know whether to play conservative or play my normal game," Jeffries said of the final three holes, which he parred. "I just stuck to playing my normal game and go for pars."
As for Carson, the former University of Michigan golf standout, he had nothing but praise for his playing partner for Sunday's final round.
"He played very well. He was hitting the ball well and was steady all the way through," Carson said of Jeffries.
As for the 15th, Carson said, "My driver sort of let me down. I was playing so conservative all day. I was trying not to score any big numbers because the course was set up pretty hard, but in the end playing conservative sort of caught up to me."
Carson finished with a 79, while Reasbeck Sr. carded an 83 to finish third at 238.
Larry Landtiser was fourth at 241, while Jason Balcar, who, along with Reasbeck Sr., shot a 75 in the opening round Saturday, was fifth at 244.
Clay Wood captured the 1st Flight with a 163, which was three shots better than Rennie Minor and Dave Murphy, who tied for second.
Chuck Poindexter was the 2nd Flight champion with a 158. That was seven shots better than Dan Balgo.
Winning the 3rd Flight was Tom Hazlett at 173. John Estadt was next with a 177.
The women's champion was Kelly Hanlon with a 26-hole total of 205.
Last year's men's champion, Dave Clarke, did not participate this year.
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org