Caves Valley Golf Club (championship history)A five-hole playoff. One of the world's best golfers versus a virtual unknown. The unknown wins this David and Goliath match-up with an eight-foot birdie putt on the second hole of sudden death before a record-setting crowd.
This was the main event that unfolded at the 2002 United States Senior Open held at Caves Valley Golf Club, the largest tournament the Club has ever hosted. However, the routine of hosting events consisting of the world's best golfers producing moments like the aforementioned is something that Caves Valley had been used to well before the competition that culminated with Don Pooley's magical putt on 18.
In just its 14th year of existence, Caves Valley has already distinguished itself as one of the premier venues in the United States for hosting some of the nation's elite tournaments.
While the 2002 U.S. Senior Open, where Pooley - playing in his first Senior Tour event - defeated eight-time major winner Tom Watson, unveiled Caves Valley to the general public, the Club had long been recognized by the USGA and others in the golf world as an ideal tournament site.
Caves Valley was granted its first national tournament in 1995 when the USGA brought the United States Mid-Amateur Championship to the Baltimore area. The U.S. Mid-Am is one of 13 tournaments that the USGA conducts throughout the year and impressively, in only Caves Valley's fourth year of existence, the Club was selected to host the event.
Despite its youth, Caves Valley proved up to the challenge of hosting America's best 25 to 50 year old amateurs. Similar to the Senior Open, the U.S. Mid-Am was decided on the last hole. The drama leading up to No. 18 was equally thrilling.
Norwalk, Conn.-native Jerry Courville was down three after six holes and was still down two after 12 holes to Canadian Warren Sye in the title match. That's when Courville, who was used to pressure after winning three of his qualifying matches at Caves Valley on the 20th hole, made his charge.
Courville cut the lead to one on 13 and then tied the match on 14 as he parred both holes and Sye was forced to swallow bogeys. The two then parred holes 15, 16, and 17 to set the stage for a nail-biting final hole.
On 18, both competitors reached the green in regulation and both had makeable putts for birdie: Courville's, 15 feet and Sye's, 14 feet. Courville rolled his first putt to one foot of the cup, giving himself a great chance to make par. Sye was more aggressive with his birdie attempt and he paid the price as he missed the hole and left himself with a 4 1/2-footer for par. Courville reaped the benefits of playing conservatively as he easily tapped in his short par putt. Sye, on the other hand, missed his tough come-backer and Courville won the match and the 1995 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
Courville's victory was quite an accomplishment, but the win was not his first in a major amateur event held at Caves Valley. Courville and his partner, Joe Sommers, took the trophy at Caves Valley's Chesapeake Cup in 1995, which was held a few months before the Mid-Am.
The Chesapeake Cup, a 54-hole better-ball match play event played annually at Caves Valley, is recognized nationally as one of the country's top amateur events for those over 25 years old. In fact, the opening round of the 1991 Chesapeake Cup was the first round ever played at Caves Valley and to date, the Club has conducted 13 Chesapeake Cups.
With the Chesapeake Cup having built a mystique for itself, Caves Valley began naming a Chesapeake Cup Honoree in 1996. The Chesapeake Cup Honoree is a guest of national prominence that the Club invites to welcome the Cup's competitors. Golf course designer Tom Fazio and United States Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, the 2004 Honoree, are the most recent Chesapeake Cup Honorees.
All of these competitions have helped prepare Caves Valley for what will be a busy and exciting upcoming year in terms of hosting some of the nation's biggest tournaments.
Headlining these events will be the 2005 NCAA Championship, which the Club will be co-hosting with Loyola College in Maryland in the spring. The University of California will be looking to defend its team title and UNLV's Ryan Moore will be gunning for a second straight individual crown as the rest of college's top golfers compete for NCAA glory.
In the fall of 2004, Ping and Golfweek along with Caves Valley and Loyola will be hosting the Ping/Golfweek Preview Tournament at Caves Valley. The Preview Tournament will feature the top-10 collegiate teams from the previous season, five at-large teams, and the host school, Loyola. This two-day, 54-hole event serves as a pre-cursor for the 30-team NCAA Championship that will be conducted the following spring.
Caves Valley is also set to host the nation's best junior golfers this summer when it welcomes the American Junior Golf Association's (AJGA) Canon Cup. The Canon Cup, which Caves Valley hosted for the first time in 1997, is a match play competition between the 10 best boys and 10 best girls east of the Mississippi River and the 10 best boys and 10 best girls west of the Mississippi River.
As the top collegiate players and junior golfers in America ready themselves for heart-pumping competition at Caves Valley, the Club continues to grow in stature and reputation. Tomorrow's stars will experience the beauty and the challenge of Caves Valley. If the Club's tournament history is any indication, it will be quite a year at Caves Valley!
2005 NCAA Golf Championships
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