Jim Woodward of Edmond, Okla., had declared loud and clear to anyone who would listen that the 18th hole at the Jack Nicklaus-designed The Club at Creighton Farms was his Waterloo. Creighton Farms, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course that opened in 2008, is a par-72, 7,410-yard layout. It was one of two private courses in the world to achieve recognition by Golf Digest, Golf Magazine and Travel + Leisure Golf in the same season, and Woodward had his work cut out for him. Creighton Farms reflects the Nicklaus trademark of a challenging design, focusing on course management strategy and precision rather than power.
In light of the final 20 minutes that unfolded in the 24th Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship, Woodward may request a photo of the hole for his trophy case.
"I stood on the 18th tee and said to myself, ‘Don’t be a coward,’ " said Woodward.
The 55-year-old PGA teaching professional at Oak Tree National Golf Club in Edmond uncorked a mammoth drive on the 569-yard, par-5 closing hole, then hit a 4-hybrid from 245 yards out. The ball hit the green some 30 feet in front of the flagstick, coming to rest a foot from the hole. Woodward tapped in for eagle, edging Mike Miles of Huntington Beach, Calif., by one stroke. That made Woodward the first South Central PGA Section member to win the national championship.
Woodward finished with a 1-over-par 73 for a 72-hole total of 1-under-par 287, the only player in a 264-player field to finish below par. Miles, who birdied four of the final six holes, had a 69.
"I’m very honored to be the first from our Section to win this," said an emotional Woodward. "It feels pretty good."