WALLA WALLA — Mike Ciez found a tree on the right side of the green with his third shot at the par-5 No. 18 Sunday at Walla Walla Country Club in final-round action at the 65th All-City Golf Championships.
The tree deflected the ball on the right edge of the green, and Ciez knocked it down to end his final round with a birdie.
The last-hole bird gave Ciez a 3-under 69 for the round and a two-round total of 135, nine shots better than par.
And Ciez held off all challengers in final-day action to successfully defend his 2013 All-City title.
“I didn’t hit the ball that great,” Ciez said of his second round following his 6-under 66 Saturday at Veterans Memorial. “I never made my putts. I hit a lot of decent shots that set up a lot of pars.”
Ciez, in pursuit of Mike Early’s 1981 record of 11-under for the tournament, started off with birdies on one and four, but made bogey on six and eight to go out at even-par 36.
Ciez was bogey free on the back and scored birdies on 10, 14 and 18 to come home with his 69.
“I didn’t make the birdies I needed to,” Ciez said. “I had a couple of bogeys on the front nine, but I finished two behind Mike Early’s record. Those two bogeys would have tied it. I had a chance, but I had a lot of fun. I made a nice birdie on the last hole and that saved me a lot of grief.”
Ryan Baumgart, after a 1-over 73 on Saturday, fired a 1-under 71 Sunday to take home second place with a two-day total of even-par 144, nine shots back of Ciez.
Baumgart got birds on seven, 10, 14 and 18, but bogeys on six, nine and 12 prevented any serious run at Ciez.
Bill Boggs, playing in the last group with Ciez, gave the leader a battle through 10 holes.
Boggs left an eagle attempt balancing on the lip of the cup at 10 and settled for a birdie to go 2-under and clip one stroke off of Chiez’s first-round lead. That hole turned out to be the last birdie of the day for Boggs as Ciez put his second title away.
Boggs saw his birdie putt on 18 go in and out and settled for a 3-over 75 and third place with a two-day total of 3-over 147.
“Through 10, I was relying on the putter quite a bit,” Boggs said of his round. “I hit my eagle putt on 10 a little too soft and left it about an inch off on the right. Then I hit a couple of errant shots and didn’t make some 8-to-10-footers that I made on the front side to keep somewhat in sight of Mike. I was trying to make a birdie on the last hole and end on a positive note and end the train wreck that occurred on the back nine.
“But overall, I’m happy with 72-75 for two days,” he said. “It was fun. Mike is consistent and solid all the way through.”
Tyler Daniels was the only player other than Ciez and Baumgart to break par Sunday among the championship contenders. Daniels’ eagle on 10 sparked his round of 3-under 69 as he finished tied with Chris Smith for fourth. Both fired two-day totals of 148.
In open division play, Todd Kimball’s two-day total of 143 took home low-gross honors.
Barry Wofford’s 147 topped the senior gross scoreboard.
Elton Edwards’ net of 127 earned top open division handicap money, and Bill Ayotte claimed top net honors for the senior division.
In women’s play, Joan Schille’s 164 took gross honors and Sarah Michelson claimed top net honors with a 136.
The 2014 tournament grew to 83 participants, and 37 players reaped rewards for their gross or net play.
“I’m glad we had more (golfers) than we had last year,” champion Ciez said. “The first one (his 2013 championship) was more nail biting. This one was more just playing golf. It’s nice to be the two-time in a row, but we’ll see what happens next year. I would like to see more competition out here. I think it (the tournament) will be bigger next year.”