Of the dozens of posts I write on this site every year (most, if not all, of which go completely unread by the majority of the field), this one is always far and away the toughest. tKOXI feels like a distant memory, while tKOXII feels like it couldn’t be any further away. Perhaps the two weeks that have passed have allowed for my limbs to finally numb and I can look back on this year’s event without cursing Mother Nature, that wretched bitch, and appreciate yet another Kendallville Open in the history books. I would be hard pressed to say the weather this year didn’t break my spirit. I thought the monsoon of tKOIX would be the worst conditions we would ever see, but never could I have imagined 48 hours of grey skies, driving rain, and gale force winds. I’m not going to sugarcoat thing, it was truly miserable.
And despite all of this, we managed to pull off what I like to think was our most ambitious Kendallville Open yet. Thanks to the incredible diligent work of Pete, our presence in the community skyrocketed. I’m anxiously awaiting the second quarter financial reports of our corporate partners, as I’m sure Dick’s, Dunlop and RX Bar are setting records. Most importantly, we were able to make a $500 donation to the East Noble boys’ golf team, which will be used to buy hitting nets, balls, and carts for their upcoming tournaments. I believe it was Nate who put it so eloquently, helping white kids play golf is the most worthy of causes and one that I’m excited to continue to stand behind in the future.
The opening ceremonies set an incredible high bar with a welcome party hosted by the Best Western (shout out to Hyper Elite golfers), followed by the birth of our newest tradition, the Champion’s Dinner at Applebee’s, hosted this year by Nate’s belly button.
The tournament officially kicked off with what is quickly becoming my favorite part of tKO, Councilman Dazey’s opening remarks. What happened next was pure magic. A hair raising rendition of the National Anthem, performed by our very own Miles Davis, aka Keith-tosis.
Jesus, I was ready to run through a fucking brick wall after that. You wouldn’t have guessed that after chunking my first tee shot like 5 feet, but whatever. I was jacked up. Keith, you are a Kendallville Legend.
To say the first round of tKOXI was an electric factory would be the understatement of the year. A front nine 28 out of Danny sent shockwaves through the leaderboard, but things quickly fell apart on the back after carding a sextuple bogey on #11 and octuple (?) bogey on #16. But for a brief moment, Danny stood at the top of the Bixler leaderboard with the entire golf world looking up at him in awe. Despite the rain clouds rolling in with a few holes to play, the Bixler leaderboard was absolutely stacked with red numbers. In what had to be a Bixler record, 12 players were under par after round one. Kevin led with a course record tying 61, right on his heels was Shane with a 62. Behind them were White James and Robinson, both with 64s and realistic hopes for the Double (Bixler & RDGC) still alive.
Meanwhile on the RDGC leaderboard, White James was putting on an absolute clinic, shattering the RDGC course record by 5 strokes with a one over par 72 that included five birdies. Both Dre and Robinson shot 78s, rounds that any other year would’ve had them at worst within one stroke of the leader. While it wasn’t a done deal after round one, it would take a herculean effort for anyone to make a run at WJ, especially if he continued to stroke it the way he was at Noble Hawk. It’s long been said that you can’t win the Kendallville Open in the first round, but with a six stroke lead over his nearest competitor and his choking days far behind him, it started to feel like White James was going for the first round knockout.
Pete, Sutton, and Lloyd all stumbled out of the gates after round one. While I would never wish the DFL on anyone, seeing some fresh blood at the bottom of the leaderboard certainly piqued my interest. Not to mention that the bottom two players would have to fly the DFL trophy back home, tacking on another $100 in baggage fees to go along with the eternal shame that comes with winning the trophy. A little peak into the Marlboro Men’s playbook, Robinson and I had taken it upon ourselves to coach Keith through rounds one and two, in an effort to keep his hands off the DFL. Step one of the mission was accomplished.
Implemented at tKOX, the four man team tournament has quickly become the most sought after championship of the weekend. And the Random Name Generators came out firing. Rocking the latest fashion trends that won’t reach Kendallville for another 5 years, RNG and their five panel hats rode Kevin, White James, and Danny’s hot starts to an early lead, with Three F Mafia in fast pursuit. The sexy preseason pick 9* Pints & a Blazer was in third with five points. Defending champs Roll With The Winners put themselves behind the eight ball early, winning only two points in the first round. Fan favorite Wally and the Whales brought up the rear with one point, trailing the leaders by 5.5.
What we hoped was just a passing front forced an abbreviated lunch break at Cobblestone and after half the field purchased rain gear (like pussies) from the pro shop, the second round of tKOXI was off and running. While the heavy rain would hold off for a little bit, the temps were already plummeting. Round two would be a war of attrition and Cobblestone the battlefield. The overflow of under par rounds from the morning were long gone, so posting something around par was an accomplishment. Of the twelve players in the red after round one, only four of those managed to break par again in round two. Hart and Tall James managed to scratch out rounds of -1 and -2 respectively. New Guy Eddie’s -4 in the elements would be his “Hello, World” moment. Big things are already expected of you next year, Eddie. Austin would also scratch together a 68 to get to -2 after two round, but at this point, it was too late, his chances at a second Bixler were all but gone. It was Shane and Kevin whose hot play continued and, despite awful conditions, bought Cobblestone to her knees. Playing through torrential rain, gusting winds, and record low temperatures, Shane fired a net 66 (-15 thru two rounds) and Kevin a net 68 (-14). The stage was set for the Championship round.
White James certainly left the door open after shooting eleven strokes worse on his second round, but no one was going to make up any ground in these conditions. He even stretched his lead to seven strokes when it was all said and done. This was Falcons over the Pats 28-3 in the third quarter, but like a true B1G guy, he knew it was time to go Tressel-Ball. There would not be a Super Bowl comeback in this game.
The big numbers really started to pile up after round two with ten players shooting a net 80 or worse. Jeremy’s net 86 put him within six strokes of the “lead”, bringing the “Devil’s Double” (aka DFL Trophy & either Bixler/RDGC). Lloyd managed to battle back a little, his 77 would give him a little breathing room. Keith’s 80 wasn’t nearly as bad as it sounds considering how everyone else was scoring, he ended the day 11 strokes off the pace. This left Pete and Sutton knotted up in DFL. Saturday morning was shaping up to be an ESPN Instant Classic.
Round two RWTW finally made the move we’ve all be expecting, winning seven of a possible eight points at Cobblestone. RWTW catapulted all the way up to a tie for second, where three teams trailed RNG by one point. Only Wally and the Whales were already out of it by the end of day one, however they would definitely make their presence felt at Glendarin.
Round 3 & Scramble Recap coming soon…