Originally created 05/17/99

Marchman wins inaugural event

GRANITEVILLE -- The anticipated shootout in the 36th annual Gordon Uhl/Golf Capital Invitational never materialized Sunday. Mitch Marchman made sure of that.

One shot off the lead entering the final round, the Waynesboro insurance agent fired the only sub-par round of the tournament, a 1-under 70 at the demanding Midland Valley Country Club.

Marchman, who turned pro in 1992 and then sat out the next two years waiting to regain his amateur status, opened with a 73 on Saturday and finished at 1-over-par 143.

Marchman won the inaugural Regions Cup event by two shots over Graniteville's Mike Polk, a 21-year-old shop attendant at Midland Valley. Polk shot 74-71 -- 145.

With 21 players within four shots over first-round leader Kyle Bradley's 72, the final round was expected have high drama. It didn't happen, as Bradley dropped out of the picture after 10 holes, eventually shooting an 82, and no one other than Polk made a charge at Marchman, who carefully plotted his way around the course.

"I tried to make it from point A to point B," Marchman said.

When Marchman did hit a wayward shot, he was able to recover. On the par-4 11th hole, he blocked his tee shot and got a fortunate bounce off a tree back into the rough. Forced to play short of the green on his second shot, he managed to save par with a deft chip on his third shot.

Players attributed the lack of low numbers to firm and fast greens both days. That was compounded by pins that were practically hanging off cliffs and tucked behind bunkers on Sunday.

"It wasn't easy," Marchman said. "They (Midland Valley) didn't do us any favors (with the setup). I'll be glad to get back to work."

For the 30-year-old Marchman, it was his third victory in the series, which started in 1988, but his first since the 1992 Sunbelt Ama-Tour. His other victory came in the 1991 Orville White Cup at Midland Valley. He's tied for fifth place in the all-time victory list.

"My goal this year is to be the player of the year," Marchman said.

After Marchman rolled in a 20-footer for eagle on the par-5 10th hole -- which he also eagled in Saturday's first round -- the issue was never in doubt.

In fact, Marchman's margin of victory could have been much larger. He bogeyed the final hole and Polk had to reel off birdies on the final three holes to shoot a 71.

The talk of the tournament was the firm Midland Valley greens.

"To have them that firm, we aren't accustomed to to that," Marchman said.

Marchman picked up a tip from Bradley that helped him beat Old Man Par on Sunday. In Sunday's edition of The Augusta Chronicle, Bradley said he altered his strategy during his round Saturday, hitting shots short of the greens and letting them roll up to the pins.

"I read that and I thought to myself, `That's a pretty good idea,"' Marchman said. "So all day, whatever yardage I had, I hit it a club less, and trusted it. I took 10 yards off everything to make up for the firmness of the greens."

That new game plan helped Marchman get his approach shots closer to the pins. Once on the greens, Marchman also started to get the hang of the greens. He went from having five three-putt greens on Saturday to none on Sunday.

"My speed was bad on Saturday," Marchman said. "It helped to have a round under my belt."

Polk, the runnerup, has gone from a five-handicapper to scratch golfer in the last year and a half.

"The main reason is because I get to play three or four days a week when I finish work," Polk said. "I was playing bad before this tournament and was about to withdraw. Some friends of mine said I had the game to hang with the best of them and they were right."


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