Pfeiffer moves closer to O'Connell's record with seventh city title

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 9, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Jul. 9, 2018 12:20 am

QUINCY -- The historical significance of winning seven Quincy City Men's Golf Championships isn't lost on Adam Pfeiffer.

He understands he's in rare company.

"One more and I'm tied with (Mike) O'Connell," Pfeiffer said Sunday after posting a 5-under 137 to beat Blaise Haxel by one stroke at Westview Golf Course. "That one's going to be big."

O'Connell won a tournament-record eight championships, the last of which came in 1983. Since then, two golfers -- John Ernst and Todd Rodemich -- each one three titles before Pfeiffer began his dominant stretch.

He's won seven titles since 2005, including the past two after finishing second in 2016. He's now tied with Larry Moller, who won seven titles between 1926 and 1937, for the second most.

"A lot of kids grew up dreaming of the PGA Tour, but this was the biggest thing for me," Pfeiffer said. "When I was a kid, I watched Kory Neisen win. I said to myself, 'That's where I wanted to be.' I saw how excited he was. Now, several years later, here I am.

"This is always the biggest tournament I play in, for the most part, every year. And the trophy's going home. That's what matters most."

There were moments Sunday when that was in doubt.

Pfeiffer came into the second round trailing Blaise Haxel by two strokes and his younger brother, Zach Kuhlman-Pfeiffer, by a stroke. The deficit grew to three after Haxel birdied the par-4 second hole.

But he scratched his way back into contention by shooting a 2-under 34 on the front nine and following up a bogey on the par-4 13th with a birdie on the par-4 14th to get within a stroke of Ryan Schuenke, the 2015 champion who surged into the lead by playing the first 13 holes in 3-under.

"When I made a mistake, I followed it up with a birdie for the most part," Pfeiffer said. "I kind of limited my mistakes. I use the term outlasted. I kind of outlasted everyone. Things can happen. Mistakes are going to be made out there, but you have to limit them as best you can."

Staying steady proved critical on the 16th hole.

Schuenke made par as Pfeiffer made bogey on the par-3 15th, giving him a two-stroke lead over both Pfeiffer and Haxel. Both Pfeiffer and Schuenke found the center of the 16th fairway.

"I wasn't panicking," Pfeiffer said. "A birdie away, a bogey away from a two-shot swing and you're right back into it."

Playing first, Pfeiffer stuck his approach to within 8 feet of the cup. Schuenke landed in the greenside bunker on an upslope, and his shot out of the sand carried off the opposite side of the green. After Pfeiffer made his birdie putt and Schuenke two-putted for double bogey, Pfeiffer had the lead thanks to a three-shot swing.

"You have to make the putts you need to make," Pfeiffer said.

Haxel remained a stroke behind and had a chance to make up some ground when he nearly reached the green on the par-5 17th in two. His second shot landed just short of the green on an upslope, and he sent his chip rolling past the hole and onto the fringe behind the cup.

He wasn't able to get up-and-down from there, taking a bogey that left him two shots behind.

"I was definitely thinking to myself I'd get a five at worst," Haxel said. "And I thought, 'Hey, I might be able to chip this in.' But it kind of took off a little hotter than I thought it would."

It was part of a topsy-turvy day in which he had five birdies and six bogeys in a round of 1-over 72.

"Lots of ups and downs," said Haxel, the 2011 champion. "I didn't hit the ball bad, but every time it seemed I needed to get things going in the right direction, I couldn't pull through."

Haxel played the three par-5s in 2-over.

"That's where I need to make my ground up," Haxel said.

Yet, facing a second shot from just short of the green after nearly driving the par-4 18th, Haxel still had a chance.

With Pfeiffer sitting above the hole and facing a slick downhill putt for birdie, Haxel nearly chipped in for eagle as his ball rolled within inches of the cup for a tap-in birdie. Pfeiffer calmly two-putted for par and the title.

"You have to get lucky and you have to be smart," Pfeiffer said. "You have to limit the mistakes. Thankfully, I was able to do that."

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