Caylor’s comeback at The Classic
Unique scoring formats can either create drama and entertainment or suck the life out of an event. In the case of The Classic at Elmwood Country Club, the drama and entertainment were present in spades for the climax of the 2021 edition Sunday afternoon.
The Iowa Golf Association-sanctioned event, The Classic utilizes Stableford scoring — a unique system in which the scores are calculated by points based on the number of strokes per hole, rather than traditional scoring from stroke play.
The format encourages aggressive play and taking risks for chances at birdies, with four points for a birdie, two for a par and one for a bogey. Eagles are worth eight points. Two players mastered the format in the open division Sunday — Carson Caylor of Urbandale and Nate McCoy of Ankeny. The duo were in the final group, with McCoy holding a slim lead for most of the round after being the first-round leader in treacherous conditions Saturday with a score of 40.
Winds gusted near 50 miles per hour Saturday, but on Sunday the weather was perfect, with warm temperatures and winds at 10-20 miles per hour. Caylor took advantage of the better conditions to birdie the final two holes and take home the win in the open division, draining a birdie putt on the 18th to finish with 79 points — one more than McCoy’s 78.
Caylor trailed by five points with five holes to play. He chipped away at McCoy’s lead with pars on holes 14, 15 and 16, but still trailed by three. The birdie at 17 cut it to one. And when faced with a 15-to-20 footer for the win, Caylor didn’t take any chances and produced a finish to remember.
“It’s exhilarating,” Caylor said. “I chipped away a couple at a time, I knew I had to birdie the last two to have a chance. It’s a lot of fun to get into that spot on the last hole with a chance, and to come through like that. I knew I was down by one point, and if I leave it short, that’s history. That putt was going 12 feet by [if it didn’t go in].”
McCoy said he played well throughout, but added that he definitely played more aggressively thanks to the Stableford scoring.
“It makes you try to go at pins more and get more birdies, just to try and jump ahead of the players that are making more pars and bogeys. It’s a fun event, though,” McCoy said.
Marshalltown High School golfer Grant Greazel was in the First Flight after a disappointing score of 22 in the first round, but thanks to what he said was improved putting, the MHS junior shot a 40 with birdies on 17 and 18 and coasted to victory in the flight. His combined score of 62 would have been enough for fifth-place in the Championship Flight.
Greazel said it was nice to get some better breaks Sunday, after the wind was causing some havoc in the first round.
“Kinda got the feel for the greens and the firmness a little better,” Greazel said. “I was putting a lot better too, yesterday the ball was doing some funky things on the green with the wind but I mean, today the wind wasn’t really affecting it.”
In the senior bracket, Jeff Collett of Ottumwa took home the Championship Flight with a wire-to-wire win. After topping the leaderboard in round one with a score of 35, he shot a 33 and was comfortably in control of proceedings throughout. Not even a double-bogey 6 on the final hole had an impact on Collett’s win.
The changing conditions played a part, Collett said, as did his approach to the different format.
Collett said he didn’t change his mindset heading into the weekend, just focusing on getting opportunities for good numbers on Elmwood’s slippery greens.
“With the greens being that firm, we’re trying to get the best possible putt on the green,” Collett said. “Sometimes it doesn’t work out, so we just try to lag it up as close as we can.”
Both winners received a white jacket and a trophy from the club, with past champions of the event presenting the new victors with their prizes on the 18th green.