Jack Vardaman of Congressional Country Club yesterday did what few thought was possible. Vardaman eliminated seven-time champion Marty West at West's home Columbia Country Club course in quarterfinals of the Maryland Amateur golf tournament.
Vardaman, a 47-year-old trial lawyer from Washington, won 1-up on the final green when West missed a short par putt.
Vardaman defeated Ricky Touma of Olney, 2 and 1, in his afternoon semifinal match. He plays Joe Vennari of Catonsville in today's 36-hole final, starting at 8 a.m.
"What a thrill," said Vardaman, after his two victories. Vardaman and West went to the par-4 finishing hole with the match in the balance. Vardaman knocked his second shot onto the green, 25 feet from the hole. West, with his second shot, landed in a bunker to the left of the putting surface.
West's sand shot stopped 2 1/2 feet from the hole; Vardaman's first putt was the same distance away. After officials measured twice to see which golfer was away, West stepped up and missed. Vardaman tapped in his putt for par and victory.
"I was astouded when he missed that putt," Vardaman said. "Marty West is a great, great putter. If he had that putt 1,000 times, he wouldn't miss it."
Vennari, a player at Marshall University, made a brilliant 170-yard 5-iron shot to the final green from a fairway bunker and made the 10-foot birdie putt to edge David Anthony of Lakewood, 1-up, in his semifinal.
Vennari had appeared in command, three holes ahead with five remaining. But Vennari lost three straight holes -- 14, 15, and 16 -- and this match also was even heading to the final hole.
Against Vardman, West three-putted the 14th hole to fall 1-down. West scrambled to a halving par on the 15th hole, then came close to making a hole-in-one at the par-3 16th, as his tee shot stopped less than a foot from the hole. That birdie evened the match and it remained even until the final hole.
In other morning quarterfinals, Touma eliminated last year's finalist, Henry Blue of Baltimore, 4 and 3; Anthony edged Mike McShane of Baltimore, 1-up; and Vennari beat Tom Flory of Crofton, 2-up.
Columbia Country Club. Vennari will play in today's final.