PALM VALLEY — Ron “The Killer” Kilby lived up to his nickname Saturday afternoon at the Life Begins at 40 golf tournament.
Kilby defeated 2012 tournament champion Ray Iler 5 and 4 in the championship round of the 64th annual event held at the Harlingen Country Club to win his third straight championship and ninth overall title.
Kilby started the day off with a birdie and almost finished on a birdie. Heading into the 14th hole with a commanding four-stroke lead, Iler needed to win the hole to stay in the match. However, an inadvertent touch of the ball ended Iler’s hopes of picking up his second LBA 40 title.
After the match, Harlingen Country Club golf pro Liz Richardson, touched on the ruling.
“(On the 14th hole) Ray hit his ball up against the (cement) cart path and he gets relief of stance at a club length,” said Richardson. “So when he did his relief and dropped the ball to the ground, Iler’s caddy moved in to give him some information and accidentlly kicked the ball.
“Once he kicked the ball it was a loss of hole. (To do so) is against USGA (United States Golf Association) rules. It was considered, in match play, a loss of hole.”
Kilby started the day by notching a birdie on hole No. 1 while Iler parred. On the second, it was Iler who evened the score by hitting a birdie of his own, while Kilby pared.
On the third hole, Iler had an opportunity to go up one, but he missed a putt from a few feet out and both bogeyed the hole.
Iler’s continued to struggle on the green and bogeyed the fourth, sixth and seventh holes, while Kilby pared all of them.
Up by three heading into the 10th hole, Iler cut Kilby’s lead down to two. However, a bogey by Iler on the 11 put Kilby’s lead back at three.
On the 13th hole, Kilby struck a beautiful shot from 23 feet out to birdie the hole and push the lead to four with five holes remaining.
“It’s hard to beat someone on their own golf course. That’s just very difficult to do,” said Kilby. “Ray didn’t putt that well today and missed some short putts early in the match that he normally makes, and I think that was what allowed me to win.
“I made some really nice putts on 11, 12 and 13, and I think that was ultimately the difference.”