THOMSON — Bryan Covar was hoping someone would come out onto the Belle Meade Country Club golf course and give him the good news.
He wanted to hear that his South Carolina team had clinched the Regions Bank Amateur Series Matches over Georgia before he reached what would otherwise be pressure-packed final holes.
“It never happened,” said Covar, who was sweating it out in the final pairing of the day.
Covar, a former North Augustan who now lives in Florence, S.C., ended up winning his match over Jamie Felder on the 17th hole to clinch South Carolina’s 37-35 upset victory over Georgia on Sunday.
Covar’s points in the singles – 2½ out of a possible three – put South Carolina over the hump with 36½ points. It took 36 points to clinch the outright title.
The victory was South Carolina’s second in the past nine years and denied Georgia the overall lead in the series, which started in 1988. South Carolina, which hasn’t trailed in the series since 1990, is now up 12-11-1.
“You don’t want to be part of the team that falls behind,” said South Carolina senior Glen Hurt, who suffered through a 64-32 loss last year but had 7½ points out of a possible nine this year.
“We’d been saying we were going to get them this year; we had a good feeling about,” said South Carolina’s Lance Johnson, who had seven points in the regular division.
There were 12 players on each team – six in the regular division and six seniors – who earned spots on the teams based on their play in the 10 Regions tournaments this season.
The difference came in Saturday afternoon’s alternate shot team matches. The three South Carolina regular division teams swept those matches, earning nine points.
“That helped us pick up a lot of ground,” Hurt said.
It gave South Carolina an eight-point lead (22-14) going into the 12 singles matches, all worth a possible three points (one for winning the front nine, one for the back and one for the 18. Ties were worth a half-point).
Georgia won the singles 21-15 Sunday, but still came up two points short overall.
Covar, who was a third-alternate when Ron Schroder and Keith Downs couldn’t make it, ended up with seven points.
“I’m just glad he slipped in,” South Carolina’s Jeff Pope said of Covar. “He’s solid.”
Indeed, Covar is headed to the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, which starts Saturday in Richmond, Texas.
Pope, who won two of the three Regions tournaments he played in this year, had 7½ points.
Pope swept both his team matches. He then halved his singles match with Doug Weiss when it looked like Pope was doomed to defeat despite seven birdies (Weiss had six).
Pope and Weiss, in the second-to-last pairing of the day, had halved the front nine and were tied for the back nine – and for the 18-hole match – going to final hole.
On the short par-4 18th, Pope hit his second shot out of bounds to the right while Weiss hit his in the front greenside bunker.
After the penalty shot, Pope hit the green and made a 12-footer to save bogey and tie Weiss, who couldn’t save par from the bunker.
Instead of losing 2½ to ½ to Weiss, Pope’s recovery allowed him to halve the match (1½ points each).
“I didn’t want to lose it (the team title) in one of the decisive matches,” Pope said.