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Cotten, Wilson win Spring Fling

John Wilson and Matt Cotten won the 2022 Spring Fling.

A dynasty could be brewing at McMinnville Country Club. John Wilson and Matt Cotten are starting to pile up Spring Fling championships.

Wilson and Cotten overcame a two-stroke deficit to start Sunday to win the premier event with a 9-under, 63. Coupled with their 7-under round from Saturday, the duo was able to post an astonishing 16-under, 128 for the weekend to win the event for the third time in six years.

Jamie Stinson and Pieter van Vuuren settled into their familiar spot in the event, placing second for the fourth straight year. The duo shot a six-under, 66 Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Cotten and Wilson as they for the crown.

“We just played some brother-in-law golf – each of us pitched in,” said Wilson, who teamed with Cotten to win in 2017 and 2019. “We came in thinking we probably needed 10-under to have a chance and we almost got there. Credit to Jamie and Pieter – they hit it just as well as us, their putts just weren’t falling.”

Wilson and Cotten made the same chase against the same team while winning in 2019, so there was plenty of hope when the day started that they could get back to the top for the first time in three years. They game out the gates on fire, carding birdies on four of their first six holes to forge a tie for first. An eagle on the Par-5, No. 3 was the only thing that kept Stinson and van Vuuren at the top.

Sitting around 200 yards out, Stinson stuck a 5-iron on the green on the team’s second shot on the course’s first Par 5. The putt wasn’t an easy one – over 40 feet with some break while topping a hill – but the duo let out a huge roar when it went in.

Stinson and van Vuuren pulled back in front with a birdie on the tough Par-4, No. 8. Facing the narrow window on the tee box, the group got good position with a long bomb and got back up on top by sinking a crucial birdie putt. Both team followed with birdies on No. 9, setting up a dramatic final nine holes.

Wilson and Cotten took the lead briefly with birdies on No. 11 and 13 (both Par-4’s), only to see Stinson and van Vuuren rally back with a great tee shot on the Par-3, No. 14 to set up a tying birdie. It wasn’t until No. 15, where Cotten and Wilson flew deep off the tee, where they took the lead for good.

Back-to-back birdies on No. 15 and 16 bult Cotten and Wilson enough cushion to hold off down the stretch, even when van Vuuren sank a 15-foot birdie putt to close out the day.

“We had a lot of fun,” said van Vuuren, who has been with Stinson most of the last decade as the team has consistently stayed in contention in the championship flight. “One short is better than two short – we thought eight (under) would be enough – and it would’ve. They just played really well.”

Stinson added, “Overall, we played really good. They did too – they just didn’t make any mistakes.”

Bracton Womack and Nick Stern came in third in the contest, flying up the leaderboard on Sunday by going low. Womack and Stern paired to fire an 8-under, 64 – good enough to gain some separation in the nine-team championship flight. They also had one of just two eagles on the day, with Stern going solo on the Par-5, No. 9 with a big smash off the tee, perfect approach over the water and drained putt to send the team into a celebration.

“We wanted to make a charge; It just wasn’t quite enough,” said Stern, who was a 2020 champ with Zack Molloy. “Bracton played great and I thought we had a great day. It’s always a great time being in the hunt on Sunday.”

Bracton Womack had a big day Sunday in the Spring Fling.

Tying for fourth were Keith Bryson and Bill Rogers (5-under Sunday, 11-under for the tourney), Bill Locke and Tommy Sims (5-under Sunday, -11 overall) and Andrew and Greg Brock (6-under Sunday, -11 overall). After big first days, Casey Talbert and Paul Martin (1-under), Al Womack and Bill Hickey (even) and Mike Taylor and Will Stern (even) fell off the pace Sunday.

While the Championship flight provided for the ultimate champion Sunday, the best round of the day came from Dr. Brad Brock and Dr. Bill Noah. The docs were outstanding on the back nine while carding a 10-under, 62 to win the First Flight. They caught fire late, turning into birdie machines at the perfect time.

“Something seemed to click after No. 11 for Bill – he went crazy,” said Dr. Brock. “We ended up with birdies on the final seven holes.” Noah was just as complimentary of his long-time playing partner, saying, “we’re the dynamic duo – this is just what we do.”

Though he wasn’t able to win for the third straight year, Zack Molloy finished strong Sunday while playing with Mike Hitchcock. The pair shot 8-under to finish second in the First Flight. Hank Patton and Matt Brown (7-under Sunday) place third in the flight.

The groups of Buck Brock and Luis Tittle and Andy Jacobs and Harry Flippin tied for the Second Flight title, shooting identical 72-68 scores over the weekend. Per tournament rules, a tiebreaker was only in effect to decide the Championship Flight winners. Craig Hamby and John Perdue (who had a closest-to-the-pin Sunday) tied with Johnny Murray and Johnny McCormick for third place as the groups finished with matching 72-75 weekend rounds.

Rounding out the Flight winners were Alan West and Jason Denney, who have now won the tourney’s final flight three of the last four years. West and Denney dipped into the red with a 1-under, 71 Sunday after shooting 76 Saturday. Barry Medley and David Alsbrook (77, 72) were two strokes behind, while Cole Taylor and Wendell Dishman (80, 71) and Gavin Lewis and Kenny Neal (77, 74) tied for third in the Third Flight.

Final Scoring

Championship Flight

128 – John Wilson and Matt Cotten (65, 63)

129 – Jamie Stinson and Pieter van Vuuren (63, 66)

131 – Nick Stern and Bracton Womack (67, 64)

133 – Bill Rogers and Keith Bryson (66, 67)

133 – Bill Locke and Tommy Sims (66, 67)

133 – Andrew Brock and Greg Brock (67, 66)

137 – Paul Martin and Casey Talbert (66, 71)

139 – Al Womack and Bill Hickey (67, 72)

139 – Will Stern and Mike Taylor (67, 72)

Dr. Brad Brock and Dr. Bill Noah won the First Flight.

First Flight

130 - Dr. Brad Brock and Dr. Bill Noah (68, 62)

132 – Zack Molloy and Mike Hitchcock (68, 64)

133 – Hank Patton and Matt Brown (68, 65)

136 – Bart Stanley and W. Lockhart (70, 66)

136 – Jimmy Mosier and Wayne Woolfall (69, 67)

138 – Tucker Lynn and Grant Walker (70, 68)

139 – Corker Deloach and Mickey Heath (69, 70)

142 – Ronnie Brown and Phil Whisenhunt (70, 72)

143 – Andy Crawford and Jon Kidd (69, 74)

142 – Josh Webb and David Spry (69, 74)

145 – Austin Green and Nick Brown (70, 75)

150 – Chris Cochran and Ryan Williams (71, 79)

Second Flight

140 – Buck Brock and Luis Tittle (72, 68)

140 – Andy Jacobs and Harry Flippin (72, 68)

147 – Craig Hamby and John Perdue (72, 75)

147 – Johnny Murray and Johnny McCormick (72, 75)

148 – Cody Durham and Tommy Bryant (73, 75)

148 – Rodney Whiles and Ray Cantrell (73, 75)

149 – Blake Alsbrook and Chase Alsbrook (73, 76)

150 – Steve Biles and Dwayne Brown (74, 76)

150 – Alan Johnson and Hayden Wood (74, 76)

151 – Chad Newby and Darrell Cook (75, 76)

151 – Liam Brock and Bunker Brock (75, 76)

155 – Keith Rogers and Brad Pepper (75, 80)

Third Flight

147 – Alan West and Jason Denney (76, 71)

149 – Barry Medley and Dave Alsbrook (77, 72)

151 – Kenny Neal and Gavin Lewis (77, 74)

151 – Cole Taylor and Wendell Dishman (80, 71)

154 – Brett Simmons and Tony Pounds (77, 77)

154 – Butch Bullen and Roger Jacobs (80, 74)

155 – Daniel Benedict and Mike Griffin (76, 79)

157 – Paul Moore and Bobby Taylor (77, 80)

157 – Karl Huff and Greg Wilson (76, 81)

162 – Steve West and Pat Greene (81, 81)

162 – Wally Stern and Chuck Boyd (82, 80)

165 – John McNulty and Kevin Mortiz (79, 85)

169 – Danny Glover and Grant Major (83, 86)

173 – Bobby Morton and Todd McInerney (87, 86)

Odds and Ends

Cotten and Wilson, both under 45 and still capable of hitting it a mile, already noted that they are hoping to defend their title next year. They could be the team to beat for years to come, though they’ll need to pile up a bunch of wins in a row to catch what could be the most dominant team in Spring Fling History.

Doing research during the event, the Warren County Sports Authority found out Bill Locke and Tommy Sims had two different stretches where they won 5 or more times in a row, including clicking instantly when they first teamed together in 1992 (they won from 1992-97). This year was the 30th time the duo had played together and they didn’t disappoint – finishing just three strokes out the lead on Saturday and going into the red again Sunday. By virtue of winning a few times before they became teammates, it is estimated Locke has the most Spring Fling wins in club history.

It is also worth noting that Sims has one of the most unique chipping methods in the field. The long-time ace uses just one hand to hit his chips and it works wonders – his short game helped the group go 11-under this weekend.

Making Memorial Day weekend a family affair of the golf course is amazing to witness. There are teams featuring siblings, some great father and son tandems (like Sunday stars Greg and Andrew Brock), the occasional son-father-in-law pairings and much more. Kudos to those close-knit teams, especially the ones who also made an effort to match wardrobes all weekend!

Of no fault of their own, Jamie Stinson and Pieter van Vuuren have set themselves up to hear another year of jokes about finishing second in the Spring Fling. The fierce competitors take it in stride, with Pieter even commenting that the WC Sports Authority should ask “which team will finish second?” in next year’s preview podcast. He finished by saying, “I think it will be unanimous.”

While it has to be getting frustrating for the duo, who may have the best combined scores of any team that has been in the field multiple times in the last decade, second place is something 45 other teams were left chasing Sunday.

The WC Sports Authority doesn’t have plans to go live with any broadcasting at the event in the future, but with some assistance from Tony Pounds – a first-time Spring Fling participant this weekend – our site was able to catch some great aerial shots of the course on Friday and Sunday. Check out these gems captured by Pounds on his drone!

Finally, after many talks with many folks, the WC Sports Authority has determined that the Spring Fling began in 1973. That means that next year will be the 50th anniversary of the prestigious event, which always draws the biggest crowds and best golfers to the club. Hopefully McMinnville Country Club could come up with a few wrinkles to highlight the event’s history next year (some ceremonial tee shots? Past Champions honored at Friday’s dinner, a TROPHY?!). The Spring Fling is a great event and local golfers should be making their plans now to take part in next year’s Memorial Day Weekend event.

If any golfers who are not members would like to take some swings at McMinnville Country Club, there will be Tuesday scrambles held this summer at the course. Check the flyer below and make sure to call and reserve your spot before 4 p.m. on game day. Also, check into becoming a member at the club, including some additional options for youth membership. Join today and get on the path to potentially being the next great player at the Spring Fling!

Photo Gallery (Sunday)

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