Once again, Green was the color for Stafford Gray on Sunday at the Maumelle Classic.
Gray, 33, of Lonoke defended his championship at the 45th Classic at Maumelle Country Club, although it took an extra hole to do so after he and 2008 champion, Bryon Shumate of Fort Smith, finished 54 holes tied at nine-under-par 207.
Gray won with a 12-foot par putt on the 55th hole for his second green jacket.
“It’s good to come out with the win,” he said.
Gray shot 71-70-66 to Shumate’s 69-68-70.
In the final round, Gray birdied four holes on the front side — Nos. 2, 4, 6 and 8 — but bogeyed No. 9. He recovered the hot streak with birdies on Nos. 10, 14 and 16 to finish the round six under.
“I set myself up the first two days and played really solid today,” he said.
Gray started Sunday four strokes behind Shumate, 48, who held a one-stroke lead over Ben Sanders of Magnolia. Shumate was steady, parring 16 holes in regulation as he birdied Nos. 7 and 16.
But on the 19th hole — No. 18 — he flinched, sending his 3-wood off the tee left into the trees. He got lucky with a ricochet but had to punch out into the fairway with his second shot and landed his third on the back fringe.
Gray’s tee shot didn’t go where he’d hoped either, he said.
“I feel comfortable with the 3-wood off the tee there, but I came over the top a little bit and it didn’t go where I intended for it to go.”
He called his approach “terrible.” It also landed on the fringe above the hole. Both golfers putted short, with Shumate making a tough 15-footer for bogey before Gray drained his par try for the win.
“I wanted to make par to make him beat me,” Gray said. “I had a good line on the putt. He showed me the read. (After Shumate made the bogey putt,) that made me a little more aggressive than I probably would’ve been otherwise. It was pretty similar to the putt I had last year (to win).
Gray said he wore the same green shirt for the final round last year, when he shot 67-70-69—206 to win by a stroke. He said he’d worn his 2017 green jacket a couple of times and might frame this one.
Six players tied for third eight strokes back at 215: Sanders; Luke Bakke of Seattle; Luke Cornett of Drasco; Ben Davis of Texarkana; Carter Patterson of The Woodlands, Texas; and Baxter Ward of Hereford, Texas.
Trey Schaap of Maumelle won the mid-senior division, carding two-over-par 218 (73-72-73). Michael Wharton-Palmer of Texarkana won the senior division at nine-under 207 (69-69-69). Chuck Kaiser of Maumelle won the super-senior tournament at one-over 217 (69-74-74). Don Kuhn of Kansas City won the masters division at three-under 213 (69-72-72).
Gray said that as the defending champion, he wanted to come back this year to show his support for the tournament.
“I didn’t have any,” he said.
You can bet he does now for 2019.