By Roy Elia
A stretch of three consecutive birdies on the front nine Sunday afternoon helped carry three-time defending champion Michael Ciez into the winner’s circle after the second and final round of the 67th Annual All-City Golf Championship at the Walla Walla Country Club.
Ciez grossed a field-best score of 139 for 36 holes. He carded a 3-under-par 69 on Sunday after an opening-round 70 on Saturday at Veterans Memorial Golf Course.
Tyler Daniels, who entered Sunday tied atop the Championship Flight’s leaderboard with Ciez, fired a one-under 71 to finish two shots back.
Ciez and Daniels both opened round two with pars on the first hole and birdies on the second.
Daniels nudged his way in front of Ciez with a birdie on No. 3.
Both golfers registered par 3s on the fourth hole before Ciez stroked a 15-foot, chip-in birdie from just a yard off the right side of the No. 5 green.
“I knew I couldn’t putt it, so I tried to chip it as close as I could and it went in,” Ciez said.
The chip, coupled with a Daniels’ bogey, put Ciez in the driver’s seat for good.
Ciez and Daniels both birdied the sixth hole, but the margin edged up to two shots after a Ciez birdie at No. 7.
The lead fell back to one following a bogey by Ciez on the ninth hole.
Ciez regained control of the tournament with pars on the first four holes of the back nine and a birdie putt on No. 14. He played even-par golf on holes 15-17 prior to an anti-climatic bogey at the last.
While Ciez shot an even-par 36 on the final nine holes, Daniels and two others in the final group — Eric Kimball and Carl Wheeler — went over par. Daniels had a 37, Kimball penciled in a 40, and Wheeler shot 41.
“I just wanted to put the ball in play and not put up a big number,” Ciez said. “I didn’t want to put up bogies. That is the worst thing you can do in golf.
“This (All-City victory) was more special because in the others, I was confident I would win,” Ciez said. “I didn’t have that sense this year. This was the most nervous I’ve been on a golf course in a long time.”
“I knew I had my work cut out for me,” Daniels said. “He (Ciez) is a good player. I had too many bogies (4). You’re not going to beat him making bogies.”
Kimball ended the weekend with a 146 total and Wheeler put up a 151. On the positive side, Kimball (138) and Wheeler (143) finished first and tied for third, respectively, in the Championship Flight’s low-net category.
“Ciez played a solid round,” Kimball said. “I expected him to play well.”
“I was grateful to watch some good golf,” Wheeler quipped when commenting on the final round. “I had a front-row seat. The guys hit the ball really well. I tried to stay out of their way.”
Todd Kimball nipped Barry Wofford (147-148) to win the Open Flight gross title. Allen Stanley (129) was low net.
Howard Crosby and Dave Boldman claimed senior division crowns. Crosby tallied a low-gross total of 144 while Boldman set the low-net pace with a 122.
Kendall Dunovant and Patty Cook were the weekend’s top women’s performers. Dunovant swung her way to a gross tally of 158 and Cook put up a 144 for low-net honors.