Doug Garwood and Joe Bendetti won the 18th annual Straight Down Fall Classic golf tournament at the San Luis Obispo Country Club on Sunday, shooting a 65 in the final round and avoiding a sudden-death playoff by a single stroke.
Garwood and Bendetti carded a two-round total of 128, good for 16 under at the par-72 course.
They had never met or played together, but the pro-am pair found chemistry on the golf course.
“He was playing great; he’s had great year,” said Bendetti, an Austin, Texas, native. “It was a real pleasure to play with him.”
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Bendetti played in the tournament in 2013, but this was the first time he has won.
The pair had a two-stroke lead going into the 16th hole, but by the 18th, that lead had shrunk to one. Bendetti then sank a short putt to save par and clinch the victory, and the crowd that had amassed near the 18th green erupted with cheers.
Garwood and Bendetti started where they left off Saturday, with one picking up the slack when the other had a bad hole.
“We only had one hole that we were outside of two feet for par,” Garwood said. “That was on 8, and I rolled in about a 14-footer for par. That was our only little danger spot.”
Garwood’s blend of long and short game worked well on a challenging course known for its fast greens.
It was Garwood’s first Straight Down after being invited largely due to his stellar Champions Tour season, wherein he landed among the top 30 on the money list and achieved full status for next year.
“I’ve been coming out here” with longtime friend Lloyd Anderson, Garwood said, “for about ten years.”
“So, I know a lot of people. To have them follow me and know the Lloyd connection, it’s very gratifying.”
In second place was the pairing of San Luis Obispo native Arron Oberholser and Jim Strickland, who shot a 63 on the day and finished 15 strokes under par to challenge Garwood and Bendetti. Former Paso Robles High and Cal Poly standout Travis Bertoni and his partner, Justin Hendrix, finished third with a net score of 132, three strokes behind.
The former world No. 1 and 2009 captain of the Presidents Cup, Fred Couples, and teammate Brad Shaw finished in a six-way tie for ninth at 136.
Champions Tour player and San Luis Obispo native Loren Roberts and teammate Michael Pineau were 19th, finishing six strokes under.
The tournament raised money for the ALS Association, a non-profit organization that helps fund research for Lou Gehrig’s Disease and provides care to those living with the condition.