The 50th and final Sunbelt Nissan Golf Capital Invitational golf tournament ended with a bang for Jeff Pope, Ron Schroder and Richard Felder on Sunday at Mount Vintage Plantation.
For Linda Uhl, who kept the tournament going after her husband and tournament founder Gordon Uhl died in 1993, it was a day of “mixed emotions,” she said after the scores were taken down for the final time.
Linda Uhl decided to discontinue the tournament this year, citing low participation in recent years, especially in the regular division, as the main reason.
North Augusta’s Pope won the regular division in the season-opening Regions Bank Amateur Series event, shooting 71-74 for his 10th Regions Bank Amateur Series victory, moving him into second place by himself on the career win list.
Aiken’s Schroder, who won the regular division in this tournament in 1987 when it was played at Goshen Plantation, won in his senior division debut on Sunday, firing 69-73.
While Felder, who lives in Evans, didn’t win anything, he did score a hole-in-one. He aced the 135-yard eighth hole on the Independent nine with a 8-iron shot en route to 77 in the Super Senior division (65-over).
It was a fitting going-away gift for Felder, who has helped Linda Uhl run the tournament since the death of her husband and played in more Golf Capitals than anyone else. Starting in 1969, Felder played in every one except one, giving him 43 starts.
In the regular division, time was running out for Pope in more ways than one Sunday. Not only was he trying to win the Golf Capital for the first time before it shut down, the final round turned out to be “nerve-wracking” because of rain.
Before he teed off, Pope was told rain could wash out the final round, shortening it to 18 holes and leaving him the winner. He was also told if the field could get nine holes in, it would be a 27-hole event. Or, if the rain held off, it would be the planned 36 holes.
“It was always in the back of my mind that the tournament could be over on any hole,” Pope said. “They said if it rained at all, the tournament would be over. It rained steady for the first five holes and they never came out a stopped us, so we keep playing. By the time we got to No. 9, the weather had broke and we knew it would be 36 holes.”
Pope, 47, was thrilled to add his name to the list of Golf Capital winners that include PGA Tour winners Charles Howell, Vaughn Taylor and Scott Brown and two-time U.S. Senior Open winner Allen Doyle.
“I’m so excited to be on there with all those famous names,” Pope said, referring to the trophy on the scorer’s table. “This tournament has been around forever. Definitely, I wanted it.”
Schroder shot the same two-day total Sunday (2-under 142) as he did when he won the Golf Capital in 1987, though it was from the shorter, white tees the seniors played.
“What was that, 26 years old?” the 50-year-old Schroder asked. “Holy smokes.”
It was so long ago Schroder doesn’t remember if he made a par or birdie to beat Hugh Royer III on the first hole of sudden
“I’m over 50 now; I can’t remember anything,” Schroder joked.