Over the years, The Phi Alpha Cup has played host to some of the greatest moments in golf.
Top 10 Moments in Phi Alpha Cup History
April 21, 2015
The Phi Alpha Cup has had countless memorable moments during its storied history. Ahead of the 2015 event, Golf Digest’s Bill McTiel highlights his Top 10:
In 2009 – just two years after being blamed by his team for giving away The Phi Alpha Cup – Jeff Eaton took his long-standing rivalry with Steve Burr to new heights. After an offseason of reckless and tempestuous back-and-forth between the two, Eaton challenged Burr to a “lose-and-retire” scenario whereby the loser of their Singles Match would retire from PAC competition forever. However, the pair ended up not being paired against each other in Singles competition, and both players remain in the Phi Alpha Cup to this day. (Read story)
9. Balsley Sweeps PAC Awards
In 2013, Team 97’s Todd Balsley put together one of the most spectacular individual performances in Phi Alpha Cup history. Going 4-1 over the course of the competition, Balsley helped capture the team title for Team 97 and was awarded with his first Jeffrey J. Eaton MVP Award (co-MVPs with Andy Sands). The PAC Executive Committee also bestowed upon Balsley the prestigious Jeffrey B. Cohen Sportsmanship Award. It was the first and only time in Phi Alpha Cup history that a PAC player has walked away from a single competition with all three Phi Alpha Cup awards.
8. The Great Keys Incident
In 2014, an hour before opening tee-off, it was discovered that the keys to one of Team 98’s team vehicles was missing. Unfortunately, the car contained several PAC players’ clubs and equipment, sending a wave of panic through the Players Lodge. Accusations flew, harsh words between players were exchanged, and a desperate search commenced. Thankfully, OnStar technology allowed the players to retrieve their equipment even though no keys were recovered. Mysteriously, late that evening, the keys miraculously appeared in plain sight on a kitchen counter. A year later, no one has confessed to finding the keys and placing them on the counter, creating a thick cloud of distrust between PAC players. A polygraph examination has been scheduled for the 2015 Phi Alpha Cup in order to solve the mystery. (Read story)
7. The 40-Footers
With 4 holes remaining in the closing Captain’s Choice Round of the 2013 Phi Alpha Cup, Team 97 held a 2-stroke lead, needing an outright win to retain The Cup. With both teams staring down 40-foot birdie putts, Team 98’s Dave Johnson stepped up and drained his team’s improbable putt, setting off a wild celebration on the green – seemingly giving Team 98 the necessary momentum to pick up one more stroke and steal the 2013 title away from the 97’s. Determined not to let The Cup slip away, Team 97 studied their downhill left-to-right putt of the same distance from all angles. With the golf world on the edge of its collective seat, Team 97 Captain Andy Sands, undeterred by the chaotic scene around him, stepped up and calmly ran in Team 97’s 40-footer, matching Johnson’s amazing putt, and setting off an even louder roar across the course. Golf pundits are unanimous in their agreement that the back-to-back theatrics rank as the storied tournament’s most electric moment, as well as the most impressive display of skill in Phi Alpha Cup history. (Read story)
6. Burr Gets First Victory
After going winless in his first two Phi Alpha Cups and being given the nickname “Scuba Steve” for his tendency for finding water hazards, Team 97’s Steve Burr entered the 2007 PAC determined to right the ship. In the initial Cumulative Match of the competition, Burr and teammate Andy Sands held a 5 hole lead over 98’s Dave Johnson and Winston Black only to watch Johnson and Black make a furious 3 hole run – cutting the lead to 2 with 3 holes to play, and stealing every bit of momentum from Burr and Sands. In what would become a turnaround moment in Burr’s golfing career, he and Sands stepped onto the 185-yd Par 3 16th teebox and fired two darts into the green, with Burr sticking his 4 feet from the pin for an easy birdie. The birdie secured a point for Team 97 and notched Burr his first ever Phi Alpha Cup victory. However, Burr didn’t stop there. He posted a match record of 3-1 in 2007, helping lead Team 97 to the PAC title and propelling Burr to Jeffrey J. Eaton MVP Award honors. (Read story)
5. Bomar Breaks Losing Streak
Some records will never be broken. That can certainly be said of two of the most distinguished Phi Alpha Cup records: Most Consecutive Phi Alpha Cup Singles Losses (9) and Most Phi Alpha Cup Singles Matches Without A Win (9) – both held by Team 98’s Stirling Bomar. In 2013, Bomar put an end to his impressive run by defeating Team 97’s Andrew Parker for his first Singles win in ten attempts. Often compared to Cal Ripkin Jr’s record streak of consecutive starts, the win was bittersweet for Bomar, who was greeted with standing ovations at every green for the remainder of 2013 competition. (Read story)
4. David Johnson’s Hole-in-One
In 2008, Team 98’s David Johnson became the first and only player in Phi Alpha Cup history to have a hole-in-one during competition when he dunked his ball with a baby fade 9-iron on the 141-yard 14th at the St. James Players Club course. The ace helped propel Team 98 to a Phi Alpha Cup victory and Johnson to his first Jeffrey J. Eaton MVP Award.
3. The Call That Lost The Cup
With the matches all square in 2007, it became clear that the Phi Alpha Cup would be decided in the Singles Match between Team 98’s Jeff Eaton and Team 97’s Fu. With Fu up 1 and both players putting for par on the 15th green, Eaton heard his mobile phone ring in his cart and ran to field a call from his wife while the rest of the players putted out of turn in order to keep up the pace of play. In the meantime, Fu completed his par, and Eaton rushed back to the green while the other players watched him putt out. Unfortunately for Team 98, Eaton erratically 3 putted, gave Fu a 2-hole lead and sent a wave of dissention through Team 98 from which they could not recover. The moment proved to be the deciding factor in crowning Team 97 Phi Alpha Cup Champions. (Read story)
2. The Putt That Won The Cup – “The Battle at The Castle”
2014 marked the most remarkable comeback and most thrilling event in Phi Alpha Cup history. In what seemed like a walkaway for almost the entire weekend, Team 98 led Team 97 throughout the tournament until the 99th and final hole of the Championship. Showing determination and grit the entire final day just to stay within striking distance of Team 98, Team 97 stepped onto the tee box of the final hole of the Captain’s Choice Round needing to gain a stroke on Team 98 to retain The Cup. After leaving their approach shot 15 feet from the pin, Team 97 Captain Andy Sands stepped up and sank the improbable right to left birdie try, leaving Team 98 in the fairway to watch Team 97’s unrestrained celebration ahead on the green. However, Team 98 still had a chance to win with a 12 foot birdie attempt of their own, but all 4 team members failed to make the putt, sending a wave of shock and disbelief throughout the crowd, and giving Team 97 their second straight Phi Alpha Cup title. (Read story)
1. 2005 Title Controversy
Throughout its storied history, the Phi Alpha Cup has never been short on controversy. However, the most controversial moment in Phi Alpha Cup history happened to occur during the inaugural PAC event. During the final and deciding Captain’s Choice round, with the title on the line, both teams met on the Par 3 16th hole. With Team 97 waiting on the 16th tee box, Team 98 studied their birdie putt on the 16th green. Team 98’s John Stubbs then grounded his putter on the putting surface to indicate the desired line to fellow Team 98 member Stirling Bomar – holding it there while Bomar struck his putt – both clear violations of Rule 8.2 – and a 2-stroke penalty under the Rules of Golf. However, Team 98 failed to self-impose the penalty, throwing the final score of the match – and as a result the PAC title – into dispute. Team 97 challenged the infraction, and similar to the 1972 Olympic USA Basketball Team – who were cheated out of a gold medal and refused to accept silver – the 97’s refused to participate in Closing Ceremonies. The result of the infamous 2005 scoring controversy is that both teams count 2005 toward their total team wins (Team 98 claims 5 titles; Team 97 claims 6), and the true 2005 PAC Champion may never be definitively determined. (Read story)