|Thursday, September 30, 2021 - RIVERWOODS, Ill. - Nick Saban. Bill Belichick. Tim Sheppard. Tom Kearfott. Four men who are all synonymous with winning in the fall over the last decade.
The latter duo in Sheppard (East Peoria / Pekin CC) and Kearfott (El Paso / El Paso GC) continued its dynastic reign Thursday at Ravinia Green Country Club by adding its fourth CDGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball trophy to its mantle in the event’s sixth iteration with a 3-and-2 win in the Championship match.
The tandem, in what was a rematch of the Semifinal round in 2020 against Matthew Horwitch (Northbrook / Merit Club) and Steven Jacobs (Highland Park / Pine Meadow GC), found itself in yet another early lead during the Championship match after not trailing for the entirety of the first three rounds. A drive down the second fairway, followed by a 240-yard shot with his hybrid, left Sheppard with just 10-12 feet for his eventual eagle.
After losing the par-3 third hole with a bogey, Sheppard / Kearfott responded with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 4 and 5 to regain their momentum and lead.
“Our motto is, ‘win one before you lose one,’” Sheppard said of the opening stretch, “so we try to get up and put the pressure on them. It was big to bounce back with those two birdies after that poor bogey.”
A loss at No. 7 before another stretch of back-to-back wins at Nos. 9 and 10 sent the match down the homestretch with the eventual victors owning a 3-up lead.
“We’re keeping the gas pedal down,” Kearfott said of the team’s mindset after the turn. “It’s a fun game and in match play, you get highs and lows and, the thing is, people can bounce back in this format, but you have to keep the momentum going your way so you don’t let them back in it.”
Mission accomplished, as the teams alternated wins at the 14th and 15th holes before tying the par-4 16th to end the match and deliver Sheppard and Kearfott their second-consecutive victory.
“I think they’re all special, whether they are back-to-back or every other year, we’ve played really good golf,” said Kearfott after hoisting the trophy. “We played in 2016, and when we started out in this thing we thought, ‘Wow, this is really fun,’ and hopefully we can continue. We lost in the Semifinals in 2019, so we’ve had a great time with this format, and hopefully we can continue to be competitive and play for many years to come.”
Following the win, the duo attributed its success in large part to its length off the tee and familiarity with one another.
“I think we complement each other,” Sheppard said. “He hits it in the fairway and gives me an opportunity to rip at it and, you know, his wedge game and he putts it so good. I’ve just got confidence that he’s going to wedge it in there and he makes a lot of putts, so he frees me up a lot.”
Sheppard, a four-time champion in individual CDGA-administered senior events, and Kearfott, the 2017 Illinois State Senior champion, have become proof that two is always better than one.
“It doesn’t hurt to have the best player in the field as your partner and obviously his record has proven that,” Kearfott said of Sheppard. “As far as ball striking and putting and his absolute desire to win, there is nothing better. Nobody better out there. I love this guy and hopefully he’ll keep me for years to come.”
The event concludes the 2021 CDGA championship schedule. The 2022 slate is set to begin next spring with the 7th CDGA Mid-Amateur Championship.