He’s no ‘Slack’-er in golf
GENOA – By the fifth playoff hole, Chase Cooper had what was likely quite a tempting suggestion for Ebon Slack.
“Hey Ebon you want to play some rocks, paper, scissors?” Cooper asked. The two decided to press on and it took seven playoff holes before Slack finally outlasted Cooper for the third and final spot into the next round of U.S. Open qualifying.
The South Tahoe native, who now lives in Folsom, Calif., beat Cooper, who just completed his freshman season at the University of Nevada, and former Nevada golfer Carlos Concha in the playoff on Monday in the U.S. Open local qualifier at Genoa Lakes Golf Club.
Slack advanced along with Andy Walker of Phoenix and Chad Fribley of the Portland area to the upcoming U.S. Open sectional qualifiers for the right to play in the U.S. Open to be held June 14-17 at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club.
Walker won the qualifier with a 5-under-par 67 while Fribley qualified with a 68. Slack, Cooper and Concha all tied for third with a 69.
After Concha was eliminated on the second playoff hole, Slack and Cooper battled it out until the seventh playoff hole on the par-4 hole No. 1. Both ended up with about two-foot putts for par, but when Cooper missed his, Slack was able to tap in his putt to end the playoff.
“I’ve never been in a playoff,” said Slack, who made it to sectionals for the second time after winning the qualifier at Genoa Lakes in 1999. “I just kind of hung in there.”
Slack will play in the sectional in Merced, Calif., as he’ll try to make it to the U.S. Open for the first time.
The playoff began on hole No. 1 and Slack, Cooper and Concha all made par. On the second playoff hole, No. 18, Slack pulled his drive well right to the adjacent fairway on hole No. 1. Concha also went right, ending up on a small hill just wide of the No. 18 fairway.
Concha hit an outstanding second shot to the fringe on the right side of the hole while Slack ended up in the rough on the other side. Slack almost sunk his pitch, but it lipped out while Concha also got to within two feet of the hole.
Cooper had a chance to end the playoff, but missed his eight-foot putt. Concha eliminated himself by missing his two-footer for par and Cooper and Slack went back to No. 1 after making their short par putts.
Slack and Cooper both made birdie putts on the third playoff hole. Back to No. 18 for the fourth playoff hole where Slack ended up on the No. 1 fairway again before this time hitting to the fringe left of the green. Slack almost holed for birdie from the fringe before he and Cooper both finished with par.
Back to No. 1 where Cooper hit his second shot in the rough just in front of the bunker to the right of the green. But Cooper came up with an outstanding pitch to about two feet within the hole and Slack also got to within two feet of the hole and both sank their par putts. After both made par on the sixth playoff hole back at 18, Slack and Cooper returned to No. 1 for the seventh playoff hole when Slack finally won.
Among others who didn’t finish in the top three was longtime PGA professional David Sutherland, who failed to move on after shooting a 70. Despite also not moving on, Carson High gradaute T.J. Duncan wasn’t too disappointed after shooting a 71 considering it was really his first competitive round of golf since, well, since last year’s qualifier.
Duncan had an up and down back nine, which he attributed to rust. He just missed an eagle putt on 13, settling for birdie, and just missed a 30-foot putt for birdie on 14. He made birdie on 15, bogeyed 16, settled for birdie on the par-5 17 and finished with a bogey on 18.
“I played all right,” said Duncan, who has played professionally on min-tours, but says he has no desire to return. “I’m a little rusty.
“I’m happy with the way I played. The scores that are going to qualify are about what I figured. I’m definitely past the desire to play although I do still like to come out and compete. I’ve definitely played enough mini-tour golf.”
Walker, who will go to Atlanta for sectionals, has made it to sectionals several times and will be trying to qualify for the U.S. Open for the first time.
“I played solid,” said Walker, who has split time between the Nationwide and Gateway Tours. “I didn’t make a lot of mistakes.”
Fribley, who will play his sectional near Seattle, made it to sectionals for the first time. After three-putting for a bogey on his first hole, No. 10, Fribley went on to hit every fairway and 16 of 18 greens.
A big key to his round was he had three eagles on the par 5s. “I just played solid all day,” Fribley said. “It’s a great golf course, great weather, great conditions.”
“That would be something else,” Fribley also said about possibly qualifying for the U.S. Open. “It’s nice just to get through to the sectionals.
“Just to get to sectionals is a big accomplishment for anybody. Just having a shot to get to the Open is pretty cool.”
Among other local golfers, Galena High graduate Travis Whisman shot a 74 as did Carson City’s Nicholas Carlson. CHS graduate J.T. Cockerill shot a 75 while Carson graduate Tyson Roser struggled to an 84. Gardnerville’s Markus Zinke shot a 78 and Gardnerville’s Eddie Shope fired a 79.