When Tony Ciconte hit his approach shot to the final green in the Belle Haven Four Ball golf tournament yesterday, he held his hands to his head as if disaster were about to strike.
But the mis-hit, skulled shot with a lower than normal trajectory had a happy ending, the ball coming to rest near the cup.
Ciconte rolled in the ensuing five-foot birdie putt to secure victory for himself and Columbia partner Henri deLozier over determined Paul Hightower and Reb Bean of Robin Dale, 1 up.
Hightower and Bean had pulled to within one hole of the eventual winners on the 17th hole, where Hightower's beautiful five-iron tee shot almost dropped into the cup before rolling two feet beyond. Hightower sank the short putt to pull the team within on hole of deLozier and Ciconte.
On the par 4 final hole, Ciconte hit a perfect tee shot to set up his dramatic second shot. The shot, with a high lofted club, was a line drive instead of the intended pop-up, but the ball hit on the upslope in front of the green, danced precariously close to a bunker and came to rest five feet above the hole.
Bean, who had not done much to support plucky partner Hightower all day, rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt on the final green. With deLozier already 3, Ciconte had to sink his testing downhill birdie putt to prevent the match from going extra holes. Ciconte rolled the putt in and a jubilant deLozier exclaimed, "I knew he could do it."
When classic swings are discussed Beans's and Hightower's will not top the list. But Hightower quickly exhibited the name of the game, getting the ball into the hole, with a deft and gutsy putting touch.
He sank a 12-foot putt on the first hole, an eight-footer on the sixth and a six-footer at the seventh. When Hightower sank a 20-footer for a halving par on the 10th hole, former Maryland Open champion and Masters participant deLozier and Ciconte, although holding a one-hole advantage, realized their opponents were capable.DeLozier put his team up with a regulation par at the 14th hole. After the teams halved the next hole, Ciconte just missed a birdie putt at the par 5 16th hole that would have closed out the match.
Then came Hightower's near ace at 17 that pulled the Robin Dale twosome to within one hole.
In a morning semifinal match, deLozier chipped into the cup for birdie on the 18th hole to give him and Ciconte a 1-up victory over former U.S. Amateur and British Amateur champion Vinny Giles and partner Dave Wysong of the host club.
In the other semifinal, Hightower birdied thet first extra hole for a 19th-hole win over Congressional's Brian Johnson and John Vardaman.
In the first flight final, Columbia's Perky Cullinane and Greg Carpousis were four under par in defeating Marty West of Columbia and Bobby Morris of Manor, 5 and 4.
Eric Smith and Mike Richter of University of Maryland won the qualifying medal in a match of cards against Kenwood's Dick Schmidt and Ron Rhodes, and Wysong and Giles after all three groups shot 68.