Gillam snaps Renner’s streak to take Super Senior crown
Doug Gillam told six-time defending champion Doug Renner he wanted to play and beat the reigning champion after last year’s Pine to Palm and Sunday afternoon he did just that dethroning the consistent Renner and snapping an incredible match winning streak at 27 dating back to 2011.
“There is no streak that runs forever,” said Renner.
“I just can’t tell you how thrilled I am and to beat a great champion like Chuck Renner is...I’ll never forget it,” said Gillam. “I managed to come up with the shots at the right time.”
Gillam got off to a quick start taking a 3-up lead early in the round before Renner took a hole back by the fifth hole.
“I knew I had to keep going because he’s just too good of a player to let him back in the game,” said Gillam.
Renner made par on six to close to 1-down, but had a short putt on seven lip out to give a hole right back. Gillam was on the green with his tee shot on the par-3 eighth hole and Renner was above the green with a tricky downhill chip.
Renner made an incredible shot to put the ball inches from the hole and Gillam three-putted in an unlikely swing back to a one-hole lead.
Renner’s 58-degree wedge, a favorite club, let him down on hole No. 9 pushing his chip well past the hole for a long par putt that turned into a bogey. Gillam made par to make the turn leading by two.
Grabbing the early lead and holding onto it for the opening nine were keys to success for Gillam.
“It gave me the confidence I can play with him,” Gillam said. “A lot of people get behind him early and he’s such a good player that he’ll just do fairways and greens, make a lot of pars and you have to catch him. To be ahead and he had to catch me, the roles were kind of reversed and I held on to enough game today to do what I had to do.”
Trailing in matches was nothing new for Renner and Sunday was the one day he could not make a move for the comeback victory.
“I’ve been down in every match I played this week and I don’t know how many times I’ve been down in matches that I’ve played, not just here, but other places,” said Renner. “It’s a long day, but I made mental mistakes on the front nine and that’s probably what put me so far behind.”
Gillam was solid from tee to green to keep some distance from Renner on the scorecard down the stretch.
“Until the last couple holes it was the tee box,” said Gillam. “I was hitting the ball in the fairway and making good contact. I made some nice putts. My putting has been better in this tournament than it has in some time. I switched to cross-hand a few years ago and it is really starting to feel good.”
“Give Doug credit because he really hit a lot of quality shots,” said Renner. “He missed some but he just keeps hanging in. He’s a good player and that will probably make a lot of people happy now that there is somebody else,” Renner joked about the end of his streak. “I can’t be disappointed, other than the fact that I wanted to extend it.”
Gillam’s lead was 4-up on hole No. 14 and he closed the match out on the 15th green.
“I pictured the match today by just trying to not get hung up in Chuck’s game, but trying to play my own game,” Gillam said. “I was trying to stay in the moment and stay in the game. It sounds secure, but a 3-up lead against a good player like Chuck...once you lose two holes in a row you’re talking to yourself and he’s in the driver’s seat.”
Renner has a pinpoint memory of many of the matches in the streak and can recite a tale of hole-by-hole, shot-by-shot detail of those matches, one of his favorites was against Joe Sauer coming back from a three-hole deficit with four to play.
“I told him it was like being in the bottom of the grave and he’s throwing dirt on me,” Renner said. “I was thinking I can birdie all three and still not win. That, to me, was the best comeback.”
Speaking of comebacks, Renner did announce he will be returning to the Pine to Palm in 2018 on a quest to get his championship back. Gillam also plans to be back to defend and keep his own winning streak of four matches going.
“I will just have to work a lot harder in the winter to avoid some of those mental mistakes, more discipline,’ he said. “I didn’t thoroughly think out some of those critical shots. They’re all critical when you play someone like Doug.”