THOMSON — It’s been more than two decades since Georgia has held the Regions Cup, symbolic of the series lead over South Carolina in the season-ending Regions Bank Amateur Series Matches.
Behind Tripp Kuhlke, Jesse Key and Will Rogers in the 24th annual matches on Sunday, Georgia moved a step closer to finally taking the Cup back.
Kuhlke remained unbeaten as a senior golfer in the series, leading Georgia to a 41½- 30½ victory at Belle Meade Country Club.
It evened the overall series at 12-12-1 and continued Georgia’s comeback in the series, which South Carolina led 10-5-1 in 2002.
With a win next year, Georgia would take back the Cup for the first time since 1990, when it led the series 2-1.
“Yeah, baby,” Kuhlke said if he plans to bring the Cup back to the Peach State next year.
The 52-year-old Kuhlke, who won all three regular season senior division events he played in this season, swept both his team matches 3-0 on Saturday and beat Tommy Carpenter 2 -1 in Sunday’s singles.
Under the tournament’s format, players received one point for winning the front nine, one point for
winning the back nine and one point for winning the 18-hole match. In the event of a tie on a side or the overall match, each player received a half point.
Kuhlke had eight points out of a possible nine over the two days, as did Key, who beat Chad Blackston 3-0 on Sunday. Gene Thomas added 6½ points.
Rogers, who only had one point in Saturday’s two team matches, came back Sunday to take down player of the year Jeff Pope 3-0.
“I hit the ball good yesterday and missed every putt. I putted a lot better today,” said Rogers, who said he would have shot 67 in stroke play on Sunday.
“He played great; I think he missed one shot all day,” Pope said of Rogers, who hit 17 greens in regulation. “He had six birdies and a bogey and I had 16 pars and two birdies. I did as good as I could; it wasn’t good enough.”
Georgia captain David Hogan wasn’t surprised Rogers won.
“That’s why I put him on Pope,” Hogan said.
Georgia’s Ryan McCook, who contributed 4½ points, might have had something to do with that. He said Hogan asked him a couple of weeks ago if he should put one of the team’s weaker players against Pope – who won four times this season – and practically conceded the three points.
“I said there’s no sense in that,” McCook said. “I told him to put Will on him. I told him he can handle him. I grew up with Will. He’s one of the best golfers in Augusta.”
Georgia led by seven points (21½-14½) after Saturday’s team play, but most of it was gone halfway through Sunday’s singles.
South Carolina’s seniors won four of the six singles matches, headed by senior player of the year Glen Hurt, who was the lone undefeated golfer in the matches, with nine points.
South Carolina’s comeback cut Georgia’s lead to one point heading into the afternoon’s six singles matches.
Georgia won five of those six matches, racking up 14 points to four for South Carolina, to pull away.
“The seniors brought us back; they gave us every opportunity to win and we just didn’t do anything,” said Pope, who had 3½ points in the two days. “We couldn’t come through when it mattered.”