By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Meadowlake will have some incentive when it attempts to retain the Enid Ryder Cup, which begins a three-day run at Meadowlake Friday.
Captain Jim Fournier’s team retained the Cup last year when Meadowlake and Oakwood Country Club played to the first-ever tie in the 20-year series, 12-12.
“When it really came down to it, did we really win it?,’’ Fournier said. “We would like to have won by at least a half-point. It was OK, it was a good thing for us, but the Oakwood guys could walk away thinking, they didn’t beat us, they kept the cup on a technicality.’’
This year’s competition will have to go a ways to match last year’s drama. The competition was tied after all three days.
“That was something the guys will remember for years to come,’’ Fournier said. “It was close. I hope the match this year will be as nice as the one we had last year. The competition was excellent.’’
The format is same as the Ryder Cup between the U.S. and Europe.
Friday’s alternate shot competition will begin at 4:30 p.m. Saturday is best ball at Oakwood beginning at 11 a.m. Sunday will be singles at Meadowlake at 11 a.m.
“The secret is how guys interact with each other, how they calm each other down,’’ Fournier said. “The alternate shot always is tough. You rely on your partner to put you in a good spot. Your partner relies on you to put him in a good spot. How you handle that situation will tell you a lot about what will happen on Saturday and Sunday.’’
Meadowlake has eight players returning from last year — Troy Rasp, Neil Oxford, Eric Williamson, Jay Betchan, Michael League, Darin Busch and Brandon Gainer. Newcomers are Randy Nunley, Jon Cline, Taylor Randolph and Josh Winfield.
“I think our guys are a little more relaxed than last year,’’ Fournier said. “We know each other quite well, guys like Jay Betchan and Neil Oxford have been around for years. I’m happy to see young guys like Jon Cline stepping up. Those are the guys we want to turn it over to because the old guys will eventually have to retire.’’
Rasp, the Meadowlake club champion, has recovered from a back injury which forced him to miss last spring’s Enid Fourball championship.
“Everybody has stepped up their games a little bit,’’ Fournier said. “The last couple of weeks, our guys have been practicing a lot more than the team did last year. We’re ready to come out firing.’’
Oakwood, captained by David Morley, retains nine players from last year — Craig Collins, Josh Tobbitt Matt Parrish, Tom Davis, Jim Lack, Kyle Tefft, John Petersen and Blake Thomas.
Veteran Rod Billings, who missed last year’s competition, is back. Morley and Walker Henson complete the lineup.
“I think it will be a fun match,’’ Morley said. “I think it’s anybody’s trophy. Whoever plays the best will come out on top.
“I think consistency will be the key. I think our strength is consistency ... guys who can play consistent through the match and come through when we need them.’’
The competition, Fournier said, is friendly. Some players have played on both teams during the course of the series. Fournier said Meadowlake won’t have a significant home course advantage.
“A lot of it is the access of Meadowlake,’’ Fournier said. “You see guys from Oakwood playing here. Maybe, our guys know the course (Meadowlake) a little better, but everyone knows both courses.’’
“We’re all guys who love to play golf,’’ Morley said.
Meadowlake leads the series 11-8-1.
“There’s good harmony,’’ Fournier said. “It’s more of a needling thing. There’s a lot of competition, but these guys have known each other for years. We’re all friends.’’
Fournier said both courses are in good shape.