The golfers in the Robert B. Monge Best Ball Invitational tournament like to consider themselves one big family.
Actual family members often make up the two-man teams and often win.
That was the case this year. The father-and-son duo of Tim Sheppard and Tyler Sheppard won the 51st annual tournament Sunday at Sunset Hills Golf Course in Pekin, defeating Austin Craig and Eric Dicks 2 and 1.
It was the second year Sheppard and his son joined forces in the four-day tournament. They were beaten by Brian Draher and Jason Woll 3 and 2 last year in the third-place match.
“Pretty awesome,” is how Tim Sheppard, 58, described winning the Best Ball title with his son, who is 23. Both live in East Peoria.
“My son and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on the golf course,” Tim Sheppard said. “Tyler can get animated, and I try to keep him grounded. Tyler stayed focused and played very well last week. He made a lot of clutch par and birdie putts.
“We needed that because all four of our matches were very close. The key to success in best ball is picking up your partner, and Tyler did that.”
Tim and Tyler Sheppard’s route to the Best Ball championship was indeed filled with nail-biting matches.
They defeated Derek Anderson and Jim Olt Jr. 2 and 1 in the opening round, Ed Habecker and Joe Habecker 2 and 1 in the quarterfinals and qualifying medalists Draher and Woll 1-up in the semifinals of the 16-team Championship Flight.
Tim Sheppard called the championship match a strange one because of how it played out.
He and his son won the first two holes and Craig and Dicks won No. 4. Then the teams halved holes No. 5 through 15. That’s 11 consecutive holes with no movement in the match score.
A birdie on No. 16 put Tim and Tyler Sheppard up by two holes, and Tim Sheppard ended the match when he rolled in a 30-foot par putt on the par-3 No. 17.
Tyler Sheppard could have ended the match, too.
“Tyler hit a great 6-iron about 15 feet from the hole and he was looking at a tap-in for par from maybe 20 inches out when I made my putt,” Tim Sheppard said.
Tim Sheppard praised the conditions at Sunset Hills, saying the course in the best shape he’s ever seen it.
“Especially the greens,” he said. “If you hit a good putt, you knew it was going to go in.”
This is Tim Sheppard’s sixth Best Ball championship, but his first since 2009, when he teamed with Cole Ruwe to win his fourth straight title and fifth in six years.
Tim Saurs and Tim Sheppard won championships in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008 as the “two Tim’s” dominated the decade.
But Saurs had to bow out of the 2009 Best Ball tournament less than a week before it began because he was still recovering from shoulder surgery and he was replaced by Ruwe, who is known more athletically as a professional hockey player than a golfer.
A few years after winning the Best Ball championship with Tim Sheppard, Ruwe became the first player signed by the Peoria Rivermen as they began their Southern Professional Hockey League era.
Defending Best Ball champions Walter Brown and Jason Kemp lost 2 and 1 to Ryan Saurs and Tim Saurs in the quarterfinals. Craig and Dicks beat the Saurs duo 3 and 1 in the semifinals.
Draher and Woll beat Ryan Saurs and Tim Saurs 4 and 3 in the third-place match, and Chris Frasco and David Perkins defeated Anderson and Olt Jr. 1-up in 19 holes in the consolation title match, both played Sunday.
Here are the other results of Sunday matches in the Best Ball tournament. Each flight had 16 teams:
Championship: Chase Butler and Steve Butler defeated Jack Compton and Matthew Compton 4 and 3.
Third place: Clint Ruwe and Cole Ruwe defeated Gerald Hall and Eric Loftus 3 and 1.
Consolation: John Meyer and Terry Schoedel defeated Bryan Steger and Jack Steger 3 and 1.
PEBBLE BEACH FLIGHT
Championship: Allen Goss and Billy Grant defeated Brad Gregurich and Todd Lowman 2 and 1.
Third place: Kim Bright and Ansel Burditt defeated Scott Deakin and J.D. Nimrick 7 and 5.
Consolation: August Barr and Trent Strong defeated Steve Ruwe and Tim Ruwe 1-up.
ROYAL PORTRUSH FLIGHT
Championship: Kyle Ruschmeyer and Andrew Snell defeated Dan Grimm and Daniel Grimm 6 and 5.
Third place: Rick Dissman and Ed Ohlinger defeated Mike Simpson and John Simpson 1-up (20 holes).
Consolation: Brian Berndt and Andrew Nelson defeated Mike Hutchinson and Phil Workman (Integrity Award winner) 5 and 4.
Championship: Shane Allen and Tom Brandt defeated Jeff Barfield and Todd Robertson 2 and 1.
Third place: Paul Robertson and Mike Sash defeated Shawn Mason and Jeff Rearden 5 and 4.
Consolation: Nathan Bauer and Gary Miller defeated Dan Lescarbeau and and Bob Neal 2 and 1.
Championship: Chip Hill and Nick Hill defeated Jim Hooper and Jimmy Hooper 2 and 1.
Third place: Phil Moss and Shawn Moss defeated Andrew Little and Steve Little 3 and 2.
Consolation: Keith Dunkelbarger and Kent Dunkelbarger defeated David Smith and Tyler Smith 4 and 2.
Workman received the Al Weaver Integrity Award, former Pekin High School golfer Ethan Sullivan earned the Robert B. Monge Scholarship, and Bill Brown was presented the Legends Award.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.