VASSALBORO — In the semifinals of the Match Play Invitational, Johnny Hayes IV pulled his tee shot on 18 into the woods, and he thought one thing.

“I was like ‘The match is over,’ ” Hayes said.

Not quite. Hayes punched out of the woods, then shot to within a few feet of the pin. His opponent, Jack Wyman, had his approach shot roll off the front of the green, and Wyman’s followup was too hard and went off the back side of the green. With that, Wyman conceded the 1-up win to Hayes.

“I definitely thought the match was over, then it completely flip-flopped,” Hayes said.

Hayes used that momentum to steamroll through the final against Curtis Jordan. Hayes, playing out of Prouts Neck Country Club, shot 7-under par on the front nine in the championship round to build an insurmountable lead. Play ended on the 14th hole of Natanis Golf Course’s Tomahawk course, with Hayes taking a 6 and 4 win.

It was the first Match Play Invitational win for Hayes, who entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed.

“I was playing real well. I just slowed my tempo down a little bit, and that was really key,” Hayes said. “I didn’t putt well against Jack, but I did a little stuff before the match against Curt on the putting green and it helped out.”

In the finals, Hayes never trailed. He took the lead on the first hole, and after winning holes five through nine, Hayes had a 6-up advantage. Hayes had seven birdies and two pars on the front nine, and Jordan could only shake his head in admiration.

“It’s fun watching. You watched it, he was lights out,” Jordan, who defeated Joe Walp in the semis, 1-up, said. “I just try to play my game. In all reality, I can’t play golf like that. That’s just, that’s pretty special.”

Hayes’ two most impressive shots came on holes 7 and 8. On the par 3 No. 7, Hayes sank a long downhill putt to go 4-up, playing the slope perfectly and getting the shot to curl into the cup.

“I hit and I was like ‘Oh, no. It’s off the green.’ But I had the right line, hit the pin and it went in. That was a big momentum boost,” Hayes said.

On No. 8, Hayes hit his approach shot over the pin, but his excellent backspin pulled the ball within a few feet of the hole. Jordan conceded the hole, and Hayes was 5-up.

“Eight, I hit a really good shot. I knew there was a little hill in back of the pin, so I tried to bank it off that,” Hayes said.

Jordan won hole 11 to cut Hayes’ lead to 5-up. The match ended on the 14th hole. Jordan’s second shot went left into an opening in the woods. When Jordan’s next shot landed in a puddle in a sand trap left and short of the green, he conceded.

“I just tried to take my pars and hopefully a few putts fall and make some birds when they come,” Jordan said. “That’s what got me here, and when someone comes out and shoots scores like that I’m going to lose, every time.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
[email protected]
 

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