The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


July 29, 2012

Kyle Long wins Twin Hills Invitational by 10 strokes

Little wonder why Kyle Long calls the Twin Hills Invitational his favorite tournament.

Long, 32-year-old Joplin resident, completed a wire-to-wire victory Sunday afternoon with a 1-over-par 73 for a 54-hole total of 4-under-par 212 and a 10-shot victory margin.

“It’s been a fun tournament for me,” Long said. “It’s my favorite tournament, one I can’t wait for every year. It’s my home course, so I’m comfortable here. Hopefully I can win a few more times.”

Long, who also won this tournament in 2001, 2003 and 2011, joined Rodney Horn as the only four-time champions in the tournament’s 60-year history. Horn, from Kansas City, won in 1963 and then three consecutive years from 1965-67.

Long also became the sixth players to win back-to-back titles. The others were Horn, Boyd Downey of Joplin (1990-91), Wayne Fredrick of Springfield (1992-93), Robert Russell of Joplin (1995-96) and Rick Bell of Norman, Okla. (1999-2000).

Tug Baker finished second with 222, three shots in front of Evan Wood. Baker and Wood both shot 73s to match Long for the best rounds from the gold tees.

Ryan Knell and Ryan Westhoff tied for fourth at 227. Westhoff closed with a 74, and Knell shot 76.

Long owned a three-stroke advantage after Friday’s first round and a nine-shot lead after two rounds.

“You always try to play your best,” Long said. “I had a comfortable lead  all day long. It’s never easy, but it was a lot of fun.”

Long shot 1-over 37 on the front nine and par-36 on the back nine. He birdied the par-4 12th hole with a 25-foot putt and the par-3 No. 14 by holing a shot from a bunker to the left of the green. He then bogeyed the par-5 15th and 16th holes.

“I lost a little focus, but it was a fun day,” Long said. “I avoided a bunch of big numbers (during the tournament). I didn’t make any double bogeys. I had a few bogeys but no big numbers, and I made enough birdies. It was smooth playing.”

Baker shot 36-37 while battling problems with the putter.

“I’m having problems with short putts,” he said. “I missed a few short ones. ... It’s close, but it’s just off enough to not be sharp. The killer was (Saturday) when I had seven putts lip out. I lipped out twice on the same hole on two different occasions. It was just one of those days.

“The course played tough today. There were a lot of tough pins and a lot of wind. We got lucky on Friday. Even though we were late (tee time), the wind was pretty calm. We went out early (Saturday) and it wasn’t too bad. Today the course played tough ... a lot of pins close to the edges, and the wind. Once you get to a certain level, it’s who makes the putts.”

Bob Englehart won Presidents Flight for the second straight year with a final-round 2-under-par 70 from the blue tees and a 228 total, one shot ahead of Todd Stout. Stout, starting on the 10th tee, fired a 6-under 30 on the back nine and a 6-over 42 on the front.

Brian Kaufman prevailed in First Flight with 250.

It was a history-making day on two fronts in the seniors division.

John Walker of Tulsa won the division with a 219 total, ending Jim Weaver’s three-year reign as seniors champion. Walker also became the first player to win both divisions of the tournament — he won the Invitational in 1998.

Other senior winners were Sparky Grober in Presidents Flight with 233, Doug Bowes and Fred Baker in First Flight with 243, Mike Talley in Second Flight with 252 and Steven Mills in Third Flight with 258.

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