After three years of chasing champions, Eric King has finally claimed his crown.
On Sunday, the Somerset golfer broke a string of second-place efforts in the annual Homer Profitt Memorial Invitational by posting a two-stroke win at Dix River Country Club.
King, who finished in a three-way tie for second last year, put together two strong days of play to win this year’s title, shooting a 5-under-par 137 (70-67) for the two-stroke victory.
King had to wait seven weeks from the scheduled start of the annual Father’s Day tournament to claim his prize, with torrential rains forcing postponement of play from June 18 until this past weekend.
While scattered storms were forecasted for this past weekend, King and the other golfers stayed dry during the two-day, 18-hole tournament. However, that didn’t mean conditions were perfect with temperatures hovering around 90+ degrees backed by strong winds.
But King didn’t mind the conditions.
“It played well. I think tournaments play better for me when it’s really windy and under tougher conditions,” he said. “Today it was, so it helped me. If the weather is tough it just works better for me.”
King had to be at his best in the tournament with Scott Webb of Irvine and former champions Scott Bolin of Lancaster and Marty Anderson of Lexington all breathing down his neck in the final round, with just four strokes separating the course leaders.
Webb had possession of the lead after Saturday’s first round, firing a 3-under par 68 to give him a two-stroke edge. King, B.J. Baird, Jeremy Boyle and Bill Smith were all in a four-way tie for second after the first 18 holes with 1-under par rounds of 70.
But King made up the two-stroke difference early on Sunday afternoon, birdieing the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 holes to take the lead – a lead he would not relinquish.
“I started off well, I have to say,” said King. “I birdied the first three holes today so that got me off to a good start. The scores were higher but I played pretty good.”
King’s biggest lead of the tournament came at the turn Sunday as he carded a 32 on the front nine to put him five strokes ahead of Webb. But Webb would challenge. The Irvine golfer pulled within one stroke of King on No. 16 when he birdied the par 4 hole while King bogeyed.
“I just play the course in tournaments but, then again, I know who the best players are, and I know Scott Webb real well. I knew he’d be a tough one to beat. And it was up and down all day today,” said King. “He played well on the back and almost got me.”
Did King ever feel like his lead might be slipping away?
“I did, but then again, I still felt good,” he said. “I made bogey but I was still one ahead.”
King’s lead was back at two strokes after the 17th hole with King holding par and Webb bogeying, and he sealed the win by parring the final hole.
As his final putt dropped in the hole, King breathed a sigh of relief.
“I knew I had to make that putt on the last hole to win,” he said. “I’ve lost in a playoff before and I didn’t want to have to go to a playoff again.”