42nd annual Firecracker 4-Ball
1980. 1989. 1994. 1996. 2000. 2001. 2008. 2009. 2011. 2013.
If rings were awarded to the Firecracker 4-Ball champion, Bob Cooper would have jewelry on all 10 fingers.
Terry Peddy, Mike Creighton, Tom Bryant (twice), Scott Sills (twice), Hubert “Hook” Chaffed (twice), Jody Moss and now Stan Humphries have all teamed with Cooper to win the Firecracker.
Perhaps we're getting into overkill here, but, yes, with a record 10 titles over a 33-year span, including four out of the past five, Cooper has had his share of success at the Morehouse Country Club. Oh, by the way, he is also a three-time Bill Carpenter Memorial Individual champion.
“I love it up here,” Cooper, the two-time former national left-handed champion, said with a smile.
This year's Firecracker championship may stand out a little more than most.
Roaring back from a four-stroke deficit, Cooper and Humphries assaulted the MCC course for an 11-under-par 61 on Sunday for a final tally of 127.
There was no suspense as the duo made its way to the 18th hole to close out the final round. Cooper's birdie on 18 merely widened the gap. From there, Cooper and Humphries simply waited on the final group to play out the string.
Bob Perry and Cal Clyde finished tied for second with Austin “Dub” West and Nathan Anderson at 130.
Vaulting to the top of the leader board behind an impressive first-round 62, Perry and Clyde began the afternoon with a three-stroke lead over West and Anderson.
Playing in the next-to-last group with Joseph “Boo” Waller and Luke Cook, Cooper and Humphries had some ground to make up.
“Saturday, we could never get on a roll,” said Humphries, the former San Diego Chargers' Super Bowl and ULM quarterback. “We were never able to get into a situation where we were both putting for birdies. Once you start getting one or two birdies, you get on a roll and the momentum kind of carries you.”
After somewhat of a shaky start, Humphries and Cooper quickly settled into a rhythm Sunday.
“We started on 1 — probably one of the easier holes on the course — and I hit it OB,” said Humphries, who hooked his first tee shot out of bounds. “Bob basically had to play it by himself and made par.”
Humphries' first shot was one of the few bad shots from the duo on Sunday. With all facets of the game working, Cooper and Humphries birdied four of the next five holes.
After settling for par on 7, Humphries' 7-iron shot from 180 yards out landed within four feet of the cup. Finishing off the par-five, 486-yard hole, Humphries drained the putt for an eagle.
“The eagle was big,” Cooper said.
Was it ever.
Despite settling for par on No. 9, the Monroe team was clearly on a roll, making the turn at 6-under, just two shots off the lead. They would not let up.
Humphries hit what was arguably the pivotal shot of the tournament on No. 10.
“No. 10 is a 187-yard, par-3 and Stan hit it within about three feet (of the cup) and made his putt for birdie,” Cooper said. “It's probably the toughest hole on the course. We felt like that was a two-shot swing and it kind of got us going.”
Meanwhile, the lead group was beginning to scuffle.
Perry and Clyde made the turn at 4-under-32, but bogeyed 10 and 12. West and Anderson also shot 32 on the front nine, before bogeying 12.
“We couldn't get anything going today,” said Perry, who won the Carpenter Individual last month. “Cal had a few birdies, but I didn't give him much help today. Bob Cooper and Stan Humphries got on a roll today. You just have to tip your hat to them.”
Keeping the pressure on, Cooper birdied 12 and Humphries followed up with a birdie on 14.
“I had just made par on 14 and Stan drained a 15-footer for birdie,” Cooper said the shot that gave his team a two-shot lead.
Clyde's eagle on 14 brought the Texans within a single stroke of the leaders.
Clyde and Perry, however, would close out the day with four consecutive pars.
Recovering from the bogey on 12, West and Anderson recorded three straight birdies to stay in the hunt, two shots off the pace.
Humphries' 80-yard approach shot set up a three-foot birdie putt on 15 and opened up a two-shot lead.
West and Anderson pulled into a second-place tie with a birdie on 16, before wrapping up the round with consecutive pars.
Coming off of pars on 16 and 17, Cooper's birdie on 18 sealed the deal.
While winning the Firecracker has become a habit for Cooper, it was a new experience for Humphries.
“I had never played this course until Saturday,” Humphries said. “It was fun. Other than 10 and 13 (the course's perennial trouble spots) the greens were great. If you got on the putting surface, you felt like you had a chance to roll it in.”
Brothers Alan and Heath Murry shot 137 to win the first flight by three strokes over Brandon Hall and Leo Vyvial.
David West and Jim Naff took the second flight with a score of 137, while Jacob Edwards and Buddy Wicker captured the second flight at 142.
The father-son team of Pat and Ryan Hall and Don LeGrand and Charlie Laseter Sr. tied for first in the fourth flight with 150.
Todd Bryan and Calvin Lusby were champions of the fifth flight at 158.
In the senior division, Jim Bennett and Jerry Johnson fired 130 to win the championship flight, while Ronnie Toon and Ronnie Bozeman set the standard in the second flight with 143.