HAPPY HAPPY — Members of the Conrad Rider Cup spray the Champaign and hoist the cup in victory on Sunday at the PGC. Conrad team members defended their title and get bragging rights for another year as the best golfing team in northcentral Montana. I-O Photo by Buck Traxler
By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
Destined never to leave, the Rider Cup trophy is staying in Conrad for another year.
The Rider Cup is a 54-hole tournament played between Conrad, Shelby and Cut Bank over two different golf courses each year.
The popular tournament has been played for eight years with the home boys taking three of the last four events. This is the first time Conrad won the title back-to-back.
Winners get bragging rights as to being the best-of-the-best in northcentral Montana, however, the real winner is the youth golf programs in the respective cities.
Friday the tournament opened in Shelby with the golfers navigating 36 holes in best ball and Chapman play.
After taking Saturday off, the singles match play took place on Sunday at the Pondera Golf Club which covers 6,516 yards.
After the team best ball competition, the scores looked like this: Conrad 7, Shelby 6, Cut Bank 2.
Winning their matches were the teams of Lane Judisch and Joe Pearson, Nick Hofstad and Dave Orcutt, Dr. Jay Taylor and Rhett Orcutt, Leon Simpson and Wyatt Freydenlund, Don Dutro and Tom Billings, Carmen Jensen and Casey Vandenacre and Lyle Orcutt and Dave Howard.
The home team won seven out of a possible nine points. Suffering a loss were Ryan VanDyke and Nate Gage and Rocky LaSorte and Greg Orcutt.
Chapman play is basically having the team players alternate shots until the ball is in the bottom of the cup. More times than not this form of play is a great equalizer and there was no exception here.
Only one point separated the first and third place team. Scores from the Chapman play went this way: Conrad 5.5, Shelby 5, and Cut Bank 4.5.
Winners in the Chapman were Nate Gage and Jeremiah Pearson, Taylor and Judisch, Dutro and LaSorte, Billings and Dave Hoard, Greg Orcutt and Vandenacre. Frydenlund and Lyle Orcutt gained a split.
Going into the singles play at the PGC on Sunday, the total score from the two early matches had Conrad on top at 12.5, Shelby was next with 11 and Cut Bank, hoping for a miracle, in third at 6.5.
Playing on the home course in windy and cool conditions, the ‘homies’ would not be denied.
The team went out and won 15 matches and also got a half point on a split to gallop away from Shelby and Cut Bank.
Individual scores had Conrad with 15.5 points, Shelby with 9.5 and Cut Bank with 5.
The total for the three matches saw Conrad blitz the field with 28 points, Shelby was next with 20.5 and Cut Bank was way back somewhere with 11.5 scores.
Winning matches were VanDyke who bested, arguably, the best golfer in northcentral Montana, Steve Williamson of Shelby 6-5.
Other winners were Taylor, Joe Pearson, Jeremiah Pearson, Dave Orcutt, Lyle Orcutt, Jensen, Newmiller, Billings, Dutro, Howard, Freydenlund, Vandenacre, and Arvidson, who had a big day on the course, winning 7 and 6. Simpson sank a pressure packed five foot putt on the 18th hole to gain a split and get a half point for the team.
After the match, Taylor commented, “We won a lot of matches today, 15 is pretty impressive.”
VanDyke, the captain of the team noted, “We have a really good team, and I had a good feeling when we left Shelby on Saturday.”
That good feeling will hang around for another year when Conrad goes for a three-peat.