Amateurs rally to capture madcap Radix Cup

Writing from River Grove, Illinois

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Just call it the craziest day in Radix Cup history.

An albatross. A ace. A guy chipping in three times. The host professional without his clubs on the first tee.

Throw in a rousing comeback by the amateurs, and Wednesday’s Radix Cup, the 57th in succession, is barely summed up.

The amateurs, the Chicago District Golf Association’s side, won 10-8 at Oak Park Country Club after trailing 4-2 at the turn by collecting eight of the 12 remaining points to knock off the Illinois PGA’s professionals.

It’s the second win in a row, third in four matches and seventh in the last 11 for the amateurs. However, mere statistics explain next to nothing.

Start with the albatross, or double eagle, if you prefer. Jim Billiter, the professional at Kemper Lakes Golf Club, authored it, and on the par-5 516-yard first hole, at that.

“I had a tree in my way so I was thinking high draw,” Billiter said of his second shot, from about 260 yards out. “I asked Dakun (Chung, his partner), ‘We didn’t come here to lay up, did we?’ ”

He pulled a 3-wood out of his bag.

“But it came off low off the heel, so I’m screaming ‘go, go.’ I was not super pleased with it, but it landed by the hole and went down. And (Brian) Brodell was screaming on the second tee. I said, ‘Did that go in the hole?’ ”

It did, the first albatross in Radix Cup history. And like that, he and Chung were 1-up on amateurs Greg Bauman and Matt Murlick.

Billiter and Chung were 5-under in the best-ball format at the turn, and scored a point for the pros. In the Radix Cup, each match has a point available on each side, and another overall.

Bauman and Murlick bounced back stunningly, especially Murlick, who plays out of the public Winnetka Golf Club. He took to Oak Park like he was a member, chipping in on the eighth hole, then twice more on the back, on the 13th and 16th holes, winning the hole each time. The amateur duo went around the back in 4-under to Billiter-Chung’s 1-under to win the inward point and the overall point as well.

Those two points won the Cup for the amateurs.

“They played great on the back and we just kinda stalled,” Billiter said. “It was a great day. I’ve made plenty of eagles in my time, but they were all 10-footers, no closer.”

The ace was almost routine in comparison. Amateur Dave Ryan of Taylorville accomplished that with a 4-iron from 200 yards on the sixth hole.

“It went past the hole, rolled back down the hill, and went in,” Ryan, the 2016 U.S. Senior Amateur champion, said matter-of-factly of his fourth career ace. “When you make a hole in one, obviously it’s lucky.”

“I’ve never hit that green, let alone get close to the hole,” said Illinois PGA Match Play champion Garrett Chaussard, who saw Ryan’s ball go in from the fifth fairway.

Ryan’s ace came some 10 minutes after Billiter’s albatross, and helped he and Oak Park club champion Justin Smith to a point on the front nine, but Oak Park pros Carson Solien and Ryan Peavey scored a point on the back and were able to halve the overall point for a draw.

Solien has been the head professional for about three months. It was he who left his clubs at home, not realizing that until scant minutes before the match.

“It just tells you how much golf I’ve been playing in the past three months,” Solien said. “I didn’t even know where they were. Luckily I don’t live too far from the club, so my caddie went home and got them. I had them by the middle of the first hole. I joined Ryan on the second hole.

“Makes for a good story, at least.”

You can’t make stuff like that up.

The only win by a pro duo was the 2 1/2-1/2 victory of Chaussard and Matt Slowinski over amateurs Brian Hickey and Chadd Slutzky. Otherwise, the amateurs either split or won the other three matches.

Tim Cronin

57th Radix Cup Match

Oak Park CC • Par 72


Amateurs 10, Professionals 8


Pros Kyle Bauer, Chris Green 1 1/2, amateurs Michael Fastert, Charlie Waddell 1 1/2

Pros Ryan Peavey, Carson Solien 1 1/2, amateurs Dave Ryan, Justin Smith 1 1/2

Pros Garrett Chaussard, Matt Slowinski 2 1/2, amateurs Mike Cushing, Todd Mitchell 1/2

Amateurs Brian Hickey, Chadd Slutzky 2, pros Rich Dukelow, Travis Johns 1

Amateurs Brian Ohr, Trent Wallace 2 1/2, pros Brian Brodell, Brian Carroll 1/2

Amateurs Greg Bauman, Matt Murlick 2, pros Jim Billiter, Dakun Chung 1

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