Gerdes, Jernigan win another marathon

For the second consecutive year, the two-day Cherry Blossom golf tournament saw Saturday’s opening round postponed because of weather conditions.

And for the second time in as many years, Lee Gerdes and Macon native Taylor Jernigan thrived in Sunday’s 36-hole marathon.

After shooting an opening round 66, Gerdes and Jernigan scrapped their way to a final round 67 to escape with the one-stroke victory in the championship flight.

“Maybe we can talk them into going 36 holes a day from here on out,” Gerdes said jokingly. “The exact same thing happened last year with the rain, so I guess we were kind of used to it this time around.”

Despite seeing several inches of rain Saturday, Bowden Golf Course was in peak condition less then 24 hours later.

With minimal standing water, the players were unaffected by the downpour.

“Our course can drain five inches of water without a problem,” Bowden golf professional Matt Stewart said. “This course is in great shape.”

Taking advantage of the conditions, Gerdes and Jernigan posted an opening round 6-under-par 66 to put them in a tie for first with three other pairings.

But with the wind beginning to swirl as the day progressed, the leaders of the championship flight began seeing their scores rise.

“The wind definitely picked up on the second 18,” Gerdes said. “There’s no question that it made club selection a lot tougher.”

After heading to the 17th hole at just 3 under on the second 18, Gerdes and Jernigan knew they needed to have a strong finish. With the tournament on the line, the pair finished birdie-birdie to capture the title.

“Going into the final round, I thought we needed to shoot (another 66) to win,” Gerdes said. “That was the number we had in mind. Fortunately, we were able to get by with (a 67).”

In the first flight, John and Sherman Case opened the second round in third place before shooting a second-round 68 to win by two strokes.

Pat O’Brien and Rusty Wynn went into the final round tied for the lead and rallied to shoot a final round 69 to claim victory in the second flight.

In the third flight, Tyler Burns and Rick Symes posted scores of 76 and 73 for a wire-to-wire victory.

Tony Ussery and Donnie Key began the second round in fourth place after posting an opening round 81, but then they closed with a final round 74 to win the fourth flight by two strokes.