Clark & Eric Rustand are the 2017 John R. Williams champions, Kircher and Jaros win the Senior Championship

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Eric (L) and Clark Rustand, the 2017 John R. Williams Four-Ball champions
Eric (L) and Clark Rustand, the 2017
John R. Williams Four-Ball champions

Clark and Eric Rustand of Tucson, AZ won the 55th Annual John R. Williams Four-Ball Invitational, shooting a final-round 67 on the famed East Course at Oak Hill Country Club to clear the field by three shots.

The Rustands held the lead after opening with a 6-under 64 on the West Course, then were caught by the team of Jamie Miller (Silver Creek, NV) and Billy Hanes (Elma, NY) after slipping to a one-over 71 on the East Course while Miller & Hanes had the low round of the day, a 3-under 67.

The final round was again played on the East Course, site of three U.S. Opens, two U.S. Amateurs, three PGA Championships, and the Ryder Cup. And the course held its own as expected, yielding only 14 under par rounds of the 89 played in rounds two and three.

The final group started slowly, with none of the four players making a birdie on the front nine. This should have let the chasing pack get closer, but none of the five teams starting within two shots of the lead could make any sort of move. Only the Toronto, Canada team of Mark Elgner and Craig Sinclair played the front nine under par, shooting a one-under 34 to get within a shot. But bogeys on two of the next four holes set them back, and they never got close again.

The Rustands took control of the tournament just after the turn, making three straight birdies starting at the 10th. As Miller and Hanes were falling back and no one else was making a move, suddenly the lead was four shots and although no lead is safe on Oak Hill’s East Course, Clark and Eric were able to comfortably hold on and complete a three-shot win. Their final-round 67 gave them an eight-under 202 total.

The Chicago team of Kyle Moran and Charlie Waddell birdied three of their last five holes for a 68 to pull into a second-place tie with the 2015 champions, the Canadian team of Garrett Rank and Simon McInnis, who closed with a 67.

The 2014 champions David Poteet and Mike Cromer from Georgia finished in a tie for 14th at even par 210.

SENIOR DIVISION

John Kircher and Mike Jaros
John Kircher and Mike Jaros, 2017
John R. Williams Senior champions

In the Senior Division, John Kircher (Pittsford, NY) and Mike Jaros (Endicott, NY) erased a three-shot deficit in the final two holes to steal a win from Mark Chylinski (Pittsfield, MA) and Jim Mueller (Altamont, NY).

Kircher and Jaros started the day with a one-shot lead over Chylinski and Mueller, but a disastrous finish to the front nine knocked them out of the lead. From the 5th to the 9th, they dropped four shots to complete a four-over 39 which left them three behind and in third place.

When Mueller birdied the 10th and the Georgia team of Allen Peake and Chris Hall birdied the 11th, Kircher and Jaros were four shots behind Chylinski and Mueller, and two shots behind Peake and Hall. A birdie at the 11th righted the ship, but then each team put together a string of pars on the back nine, and Kircher and Jaros looked safe going into the 17th.

At that point, they were two shots ahead of Peake and Hall, and three ahead of Kircher and Jaros. Playing ahead of the final two teams, Peake and Hall birdied the par-five 17th to pull within one. Then Kircher and Jaros got just what they needed, a two-shot swing, with an eagle 3 pulling them within a shot and tied with Peake and Hall.

Peake and Hall bogeyed the final hole to effectively end their chances of a win. Holding a one-shot lead, Chylinski and Mueller followed suit, and when John Kircher birdied the final hole, it was a second-straight two-shot swing and a victory for the Kircher/Jaros team.

Kircher and Jaros finished with a one-over 71 for a 4-under 206 total, one shot ahead of Chylinski and Mueller, who also closed with a 71. Peake and Hall shot the low round of the day, a 69, to finish solo third at 208.

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