Matt Daly switched to a stand-up putter this summer "just to address some neurological issues called the yips," the 2004 graduate of St. Charles East claims.
Garrett Patten may be thinking about a similar switch now, considering his admitted "yips," or the inability to make short putts, cost him the St. Charles Men's City Golf Championship on Sunday at Pottawatomie Golf Course.
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Daly captured his first city crown with a steady performance to win the match-play format 4-3, up four holes with three left, over Patten, whose putter failed him on 3 critical short putts during the round.
Even a scintillating eagle on the 489-yard, par 5 10th hole that cut Daly's lead to one hole could not shift momentum in Patten's favor.
"I have had trouble with my short putts in past tournaments and it has always kind of haunted me when it matters the most," said Patten, a 1998 St. Charles East graduate.
That haunting started on the second hole, after Patten opened the round with a birdie on the first to take a one-hole lead on Daly. But Patten gave it right back when he missed a three-foot par putt on the second hole.
"After the second hole, I knew I was going to have a challenge with those little putts all day," Patten admitted.
For his part, Daly couldn't have been steadier. He shot par 35 for the first nine holes, picking up a two-hole lead after a sand save for a par 3 on the seventh hole, while Patten settled for a bogey, his third on the front nine.
"I plodded my way around and played my game," Daly said. "You could tell it was going to be tight for both of us, because we were both missing putts."
Daly scrambled out of trouble, hitting a terrific second shot from underneath trees along the fairway, for a par on the ninth hole when it appeared Patten might pick up a hole.
"That ninth hole was very big for me, because it kept the momentum on my side going into the second nine," Daly said.
Players play through Pottawatomie's nine-hole layout twice in the city tournament.
Patten tried to grab that momentum back when he reached the par-5 10th hole in 2 shots and hit a 30-foot putt that sat on the lip of the hole for about 10 seconds before falling in for an eagle that trimmed his deficit to one hole.
But in an instant replay from the first time through the course, Patten missed a short putt on the next hole to give Daly back his two-hole lead.
"I thought the eagle would change the momentum of the match, but I missed the short putt on the next hole," Patten lamented. "It (putting woes) comes and goes, and I can play for months without it being an issue, but then all of the sudden it happens when you are playing for something you want to win."
Daly increased his lead to three holes on No. 12 with a par, while Patten was stuck in an odd lie, amounting to a mound of sand, on the edge of the bunker behind the green and faltered with a bogey.
"I have never had a lie like that before," Patten said. "I think whoever raked it last just left too much of a mound of sand right on the edge and that is where my ball landed."
When Patten missed a short par putt on No. 13 that would have allowed him to again trim a hole off Daly's lead, the match was pretty much over. To make matters worse, Patten blasted his lone out-of-bounds tee shot in the entire tournament on the next hole, while Daly continued to play par golf for the victory.
Daly, playing in the city tournament for the first time in about eight years because "I'm unemployed and have the time," figures he followed a fairly foolproof formula.
"The longest club I hit was a hybrid three wood and it kept me in the game," Daly said. "I didn't make too many big mistakes and if you stay mistake-free in match play, you will win most events."
Daly reached the title match by nabbing a semifinal win over former St. Charles teammate Nick Edwards, who had a medalist qualifying round of 68. Patten toppled former two-time champion Brian Charles in the semis, as Charles was looking to reach the city's golf summit again after last winning in 2009.
In other flights concluding the three-week tournament, Jim Funk captured A flight 2-1 over Rod Stablein, and Brian Shaunnesy earned a 2-1 win in B flight over Ron Ingold.
In C flight, Bill Warner rolled to a 4-3 win over Patrick Devito, John Pearson notched a 4-3 win over Tim Bober in D flight and Scott Clancy tallied the same 4-3 score for an E flight victory over Dave Davenport.