Through 28 holes of the Santa Barbara Classic, things weren’t exactly looking up for Bobby Schaeffer and Tyler Crawford.
A bogey on the par-3 10th at the Santa Barbara Golf Club was undoubtedly deflating.
“It was almost time to throw the white towel up,” Crawford said.
But, it also allowed the duo to throw caution into the wind.
“Don’t leave anything short, just let it rip and it just so happened that everything started falling,” Crawford said.
After Crawford drained a 12-footer for birdie on No. 11, he followed with an ace on the par-3 13th and then the duo went birdie-birdie-eagle — the latter a 35-footer that Schaeffer drained from the front of the green — to fire a 9-under 61 to go from four shots back to beginning the day to into the clubhouse at 13 under, sharing the lead with Mark Pavletich and Stephen Hale.
Schaeffer, a former UCSB player and standout on the local amateur circuit, would birdie the first playoff hole with his sidesaddle putting style, putting his bright-yellow ball into the heart of the hole from eight feet.
“We didn’t play our best early on, but we hung in there,” Schaeffer said. “We weren’t thinking about winning, hoping to get Top 3 and get in Randy (Shannon’s) pro shop.”
Schaeffer beat one of his former caddies, as Pavletich met him when he was 14 and carried his sticks early on.
“I don’t like to lose, but losing to Bobby isn’t anything to be ashamed of,” Pavletich said.
Crawford’s hole-in-one wasn’t heard anywhere on the course, almost by design. Facing just a 98-yard shot, the stock sand wedge did exactly what it was supposed to, go a bit long and right, working its way back into the hole.
“I’m the only one that saw it go in, no one in the group saw it,” said Crawford, 45, who has six aces in his standout amateur career. “I knew it was in.”
Yet, despite the fast finish, the duo wasn’t convinced that they’d win, with Crawford even saying that he nearly left to get back on the road home.
“We figured we’d be a couple short,” Crawford said.
The small group that followed the playoff got a front-row seat for Schaeffer’s unique putting style, something that his friends have named “Schaeff-on” — or face-on putting.
Schaeffer developed the putter, which Bryson DeChambeau used on the PGA Tour for a short time.
“I’m very passionate about putting,” Schaeffer said. “It’s a USGA approved putter.”
Pavletich and Hale played in the Classic for the first time as a duo, making the trek from Bakersfield.
“We’ll be back, this was fun,” Hale said.
While Schaeffer and Crawford fired a 61, scores were not as low on Sunday afternoon, a mixture of tournament nerves and tough — but fair — pin placements.
Bob Becker was making his return to the tournament after a 25-year hiatus, teaming up with longtime friend Matt Hertel to take solo third after Becker chipped in for birdie on the 18th.
“It’s the longest 6,050-yard golf course out there,” Becker said. “So many blind shots, the pins were really hard. Maybe some guys would say the pins were unfair, but they were just hard. Very fair.”
Hertel explained that with a shorter course, players know that the pins have to be a bit more tucked.
“Guys can hit it so far, you have to make the greens a bit more difficult,” Hertel said.
In the San Miguel flight, Dan Vordale and Daniel Vordale won by seven shots; in the Santa Rosa flight, Gregory Hash and John Ulman pulled off a one-shot win behind a final-round 61; and, finally, Chris Dailey and Bryce Schimmel won the Anacapa flight, firing a second consecutive 63 to win by a shot over four groups.
With all flight winners reaching well into double-digits under par, Schaeffer had only one explanation.
“This is a gem of a golf course, I’ve been saying that forever,” Schaeffer said.
“The strategy is so unique. If you get off your game, it’ll get you. It’ll also reward great play. There is a strategy involved to play it properly.”