By Rob Kiser
Call Sports Editor
Ben Gover likes the sound of Echo Hills Club Champion.
For the third time in four years, the southpaw claimed the title — shooting a one-over par 145 for 36 holes to beat defending champion Brian Deal by three shots — and regain the status he held in 2011 and 2012.
“I did (want to to get the title back),” Gover said. “I haven’t been playing a lot of golf and it feels good to come out and play well like this.”
Gover erased a two-shot deficit on Sunday and had pulled even at the turn.
“It was pretty close from there,” Gover said. I gained one on 12 and another on 13 (with pars).”
A big swing came on the 160-yard, par-3 15th.
Gover hit an eight-iron to 12 feet and rolled in the putt, while Deal bogeyed — stretching Gover’s advantage to four shots.
“I definitely started thinking about it (winning) at that point,” Gover said.
It didn’t take long for that to change — Deal birdied the 280-yard, par-4 16th, while Gover bogeyed — cutting his lead in half.
“The wheels definitely started turning,” Gover said with a smile. “I just wanted to hit a real solid shot on 17 (a par-3) and finish with two pars.”
He did exactly that and Deal bogeyed the 17th to make the final margin three shots.
“I hit the ball real solid all weekend,” Gover said. “The few errant shots I hit, I was able to recover from.”
With Brian Robbins joining Gover and Deal as a threesome both days, the group included every club champion since 2006.
And the opening round did not disappoint.
Deal and Robbins both recorded one-under par 71s, while Gover recovered from a slow start, with a 73.
After a two-over par 38 on the front nine Saturday, Gover came in with a one-under par 35 on the back nine to set the stage for Sunday.
“It did (give him some confidence),” Gover said. “I hit a lot of good shots on the back nine and played well. I felt like if I could shoot something around par on Sunday, I would be right there.”
His matching nines of even-par for 36 were more than good enough to reclaim the title, playing the last 27 holes in one-under par.
Deal carded a 77 Sunday to finish at 148, while Robbins shot an 81 Sunday to finish third with a 152 total.
Steve Hamant rallied from five shots back Sunday to win the Senior Flight.
He trailed first-round leader Mike Butsch by five shots after an 85 and followed that with a 79 Sunday for a 164 total and four-shot victory.
Marty Jackson finished second after rounds of 89 and 79 for a 168 total.
Dave Westfall also rallied from a five-shot deficit to win the first flight.
JD Denson had shot 78 in the opening round and held a five-shot lead over Westfall.
Westfall came back with a 78 on Sunday for a 161 total and three-shot victory.
Denson shot 86 Sunday for a 164 total to finish second.