With the TCL Signature Series #2 behind us, many of us are gearing up for the new year and the next TCL event. Right smack dab in the middle of our sights is one of the biggest and most suspenseful events you will ever experience, TCL's Ryder Cup. Known as "An event unlike any other", this unique event continues to grow and is the biggest event of the year. What started out as a "our neighborhood is better than yours" type of tourney with a handful of teams, now has become a multiple division event with over 60 teams made up of 10 players. Well, there were over 60 teams last year so who knows how many will be vying for the cup this year but I can assure you it will be memorable.
One of my most memorable Ryder Cups was the one held January 2016 in Mesquite. It was a doozy folks! In this one, there were teams from outside of Texas...I mean really outside of Texas. There were players from Ohio and North Carolina and these squads had some of the best players in the country at the time and they came down here and put on a show. I don't remember what this particular division was called but it had all the top players from Texas on several teams along with those out of state teams. The Open Division was the one I played in with the East Texas team led by Captain Brad Jones. The 5 other teams including Red River, Texas Justice, North Tarrant, Mule Barn and East Dallas. This Division produced one of the most exciting finishes to any Ryder Cup and here is how it went down...well, best to my recollection.
Everything seemed normal as Team Ten concluded with East Dallas and N. Tarrant tied with 4 points each. Followed closely with 3 points were East Texas and Mule Barn. Men's and Women's Singles were next with a March Madness style bracket and this is where things started to heat up. Heath Mills beat Kyle Verner for the win and with both players representing E. Texas, big points were garnered for Capt. Brad Jones and his team. The standings at that point had E. Texas in first with 14.5, E. Dallas in 2nd with 13.5 and N. Tarrant tied for 3rd with the Mule Barn with 10.5. Doubles followed and things were really about to get intense!
I remember it being very close and after me and my partner, Jim Abdella beat the team from E. Dallas, I looked at the scoreboard and at that time we held a small lead. I walked around and started putting numbers together and after looking at the situation, I felt like we had enough points to win the cup. I knew there were only a few games left to be played and the closest team to us, E. Dallas had just one match left. If they won that match they would still be a point or so short so I felt like we were on the verge of winning. All the games were completed and some of us were waiting around for the scores to be completed while some went to their hotel rooms thinking it was all over. Being that it was around 11 pm, some decided to hit the sauce and that may have been a bad thing. I glanced over towards the scorers table and noticed a few people gathered around in what appeared to be a serious discussion. As I peered closer, I realized one of those folks was my Captain, Brad Jones. He wasn't happy about something so I made my way that direction to see if I could find out what was happening.
I really wasn't sure what all had taken place but as I got close enough I caught glance at the television monitor which showed the standings and to my surprise, the E. Texas team was tied with the team from E. Dallas. Obviously something unusual had occurred and there were several Captains along with the Tournament Directors discussing things. One of the things I heard from them was that there was a tie and a sudden death match was to be played. Eventually it was explained and the fun was just getting started!
Brad Jones and his E. Texas team was deadlocked with E. Dallas led by Will Davis and both were about to be a part of TCL history! The unique way TCL decided to settle this situation was interesting and ultimately, very exciting. A coin toss decided which Captain would have the first choice to pair players up in a "down and back" round. The team that scored the most points in that down and back would earn a point for their team. The first team to get to 6 would win the Cup! The Captain that won the toss could pick any player from his team to play any player from the other team and after that down and back was completed, the other captain would have their turn to do the same. They would take turns until one team reached 6 points. Jones won the toss and with a huge boisterous crowd lining the outside edges of the court, his first pick was Heath Mills and I don't remember who jones selected to play against Mills but Mills won to give E. Texas a 1-0 lead. Davis went next and whoever he chose for his team won tying the score at 1-1. I believe Jones went with Kyle Verner who lost to give E. Dallas a 2-1 lead. Captain Will Davis went on to win 2 more matches to give them a seemingly insurmountable 4-1 lead. I can't remember who all played the next 2 matches but E. Texas won to draw them closer at 3 points to 4. Up next for E. Texas was Sean Gay who was a good player but I really don't believe any of the standing room only crowd, including Sean would have expected him to hit the shot that he hit. With one bag left and a board cluttered about with several bags all around the hole, Sean had only one option. He had to hit a airmail and drag one of the bags to give him the win. The place had been buzzing but as he let his bag fly it got eerily quite and as the bag seemed to fly in super slow motion...the crowd quickly erupted as he not only hit the airmail but drug 2 bags to give him and his E. Texas team the point! It was freakin' awesome y'all! This tied the score at 4 and there were only 2 players from each team left to battle. I remember Jones getting me and Justin Bennett together to ask us who we would want to play against from E. Dallas and I spoke first saying for him to match me up with Richard Reed. I had some success earlier against Richard in doubles and felt like I could have some success against him in this critical situation. So it was me and Richard Reed stepping to the line and after the first 8 bags had been thrown, Reed was ahead by 1. I don't really remember what the exact situation was completely but with my last bag, and a bag or two in front of the hole, I had to hit a airmail as a boarded bag wouldn't be enough. With little hesitation I threw a bag that had more prayers and hail mary's than you could imagine and bang...it some how went right through the hole to give us the win and a 5-4 lead and a whole lot of momentum! With a rather bleak outlook just a few minutes earlier, no one would've expected things to go the way they had gone. Down 4-1, with a unsuspecting player hitting a crucial airmail drag, a old guy playing way past his bedtime making a game deciding airmail, E. Texas had brought the room to a frenzy! The last matchup was Justin Bennett for E. Texas playing against Randy Husband from E. Dallas. They washed after each player had thrown their 4 bags but Bennett was about to put the nail in the coffin. He made his first bag, Husband's first bag went wide right, Bennett made his 2nd and his third while Husband only was able to make one. Bennett drained his last bag to give E. Texas the win and the cup in what would become one of the most exciting Ryder Cup finishes in TCL history.
The exhilaration and excitement overshadowed our fatigue as we all began to realize what had just happened. My tank was empty but I had just enough energy left to give my teammates high fives and hugs as we celebrated into to early morning hours. It was a great feeling, the feeling we all play for and even though Will Davis' E. Dallas squad was disappointed, they too were a big part of this moment. It was a big time moment for all of us, one that we all will never forget. Words from a speech I've given come to mind..."Great moments are born from great opportunities". This was a great opportunity and in a few weeks, there will indeed be more great moments available.
This was a Ryder Cup memory that I was fortunate to be a part of and as we gear up for the next Ryder Cup, I hope you all are able to enjoy the moment and if the opportunity becomes yours, fate will be on your side and you're able to create memories and moments like these.
Have fun and throw 'em straight y'all!