When the Tidyman’s Shootout started at The Creek at Qualchan Monday afternoon, Butch Baird was one of 16 golfers with a chance to win.
Once he got away from the first hole - the 10th tee - his chance improved dramatically, if only because he didn’t have to withstand quips from Lee Trevino and Ken Still.
However, when it was time to hit his third shot on the sixth and final hole - No. 18 - Baird figured his chance was 1 in 10, even though he was one of two survivors.
Then he calmly hit a short pitch over a bunker to the top shelf and drained a 10-foot putt. That matched the “gimme” birdie by J.C. Snead, forcing a chipoff from the front of the green. Baird again put the shot close and when Snead went long, Baird won the fourth annual event.
“That one I lofted over the bunker and up the hill, I thought, ‘I can make that shot.’ Yeah, 1 in 10,” he said. “What I was honestly thinking as I stood over that putt is that at the age I’m at, 61, I don’t have many chances to make putts like that to tie or win. That was great.”
The Shootout was the highlight of the Pro Classic, which included a morning pro-am, a clinic by headliner Trevino, a children’s clinic and a closing clinic by Bob Brue.
There was a three-way tie at 57 in the pro-am, with Rick Acton’s group of Drake Aitken, David Christiansen, Keith Crip and Jerry Frislie winning the tiebreaker.
DeWitt Weaver, last year’s Shootout winner, and Bunky Henry captained the other teams that were 15 under par. Trevino’s team was one shot back.
The largest mass of people followed Trevino’s group around the course and congregated at the 18th green for his clinic. During the course of the day it was estimated that more than 4,000 attended the event.
All the seniors were in great form at the start of the Shootout.
When Brue hit his tee shot into the fairway trap, John Brodie told him, “You don’t even have to go down there. You can stay here.”
However, Brue avoided elimination on the first hole. Two groups of eight seniors (actually, Qualchan pro Mark Gardner filled in on the first group) played holes 10, 11, 12, 16 and 17, with one or two players eliminated on each until Baird and Snead were left to play 18. High scorers were dropped at each hole and in ties there was a one-shot or one-putt closest-to-the-hole playoff.
Trevino had plenty of comments on the first tee, telling Larry Mowry, who also drove into the bunker, “I’ve got a 9-wood you can hit out of there.” He was referring to a new club he invented, which he displayed at the clinic.
Then he said, “I don’t know what we’re playing, just tell me if I’m still in.”
He wasn’t around long, getting eliminated in a chip-off on the first hole.
Baird made a long birdie putt on No. 17 to make the final, eliminating Homero Blancas, and Snead knocked off Still with a chip out of the front bunker.
On No. 18, Snead put his drive almost at the creek. Baird was well short and then barely got his 3-wood high enough to get across, rolling up just short of the trap on the front-left. Snead reached the front edge of the green in two.
“I was just kind of hanging in, making a few pars while everybody was taking themselves out,” Baird said. “Then when it was down to four I made a couple of birdies.”
He gave the event high marks and put in his pitch to make it a regular Senior Tour stop.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color Photos
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