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Wilson, Cotten win Spring Fling
John Wilson 4.jpg
John "Willy" Wilson celebrates after hitting the green on his approach shot on No. 9. It helped Wilson and Matt Cotten win the Spring Fling.

Trees blinded any view John Wilson could have at the No. 9 green. A mass of limbs, which had already claimed his teammate’s shot, waved back and forth in a staff breeze – like a shaking head trying to talk him out of a risky line.

Wilson gathered himself, stared straight into the awaiting branches and swung away. 

The approach shot landed 20 feet away from hole, helping him and Matt Cotten claim the Spring Fling tournament championship at McMinnville Country Club over Memorial Day weekend.

“Hit it high and let it fly,” said Wilson when asked what he was thinking before the final shot.

The duo left an eagle putt a few feet short, but Cotten buried the birdie putt to give the team a one-stroke victory over the pair of Jamie Stinson and Pieter van Vuuren.

Cotten and Wilson combined to shoot 129 over two days, including a second-day 65 to overcome a two-stroke deficit on the final 18. Stinson and van Vuuren led with a 62 after day one, but missed out on a playoff when van Vuuren’s eagle putt on No. 9 missed by less than a foot.

Cotten’s putt was the final one made Sunday after 41 teams took to the course. The teams were split in four fields on the final day, with the championship flight going down to the final hole. Bart Stanley and Phil Whisenhunt fired 65 on day two to finish third in the championship flight.

Bill Rogers and Keith Bryson turned in a pair of 68s to win the first flight, beating three teams tied for second by five strokes. Rogers, a board member at McMinnville Country Club, was happy to see so many people out playing.

“I think everybody had a great time. There was a lot of good golf played,” said Rogers. “We had a lot of regulars and some new faces out here. It was a great to see.”

Colin Ashby and John McNulty won the second flight with a score of 143, including shooting 69 Sunday – tied for the seventh-best round in all flights.

Alan West and Jason Denney were the lone team in the third flight to dip into the red over the weekend, firing 70 Sunday to win with a score of 149. All teams started on the back nine and West knew exactly when his team locked in.

“We had a drive on No. 13 that left us about 50 yards out. I knew then we were going to win,” said West.

Warm temperatures and tough hole locations seemed to suppress scoring, but it didn’t hold people back from having fun.

“This is a great tournament to play,” said Nick Stern, who teamed with Liam Brock to shoot 142, one stroke out of a tie for second in the first flight. “It’s always a challenge. The wind was blowing, the greens were fast and the pressure was on.”

Nobody handled the pressure better than Wilson.

More Spring Fling winners can be found here