PALMVALLEY — Make no mistake about it, no matter who wins the Life Begins at 40 golf tournament championship on Saturday, he will be a first-time winner.
That’s because four-time defending champion Ron “The Killer” Kilby is no longer in the title hunt.
Longtime LBA 40 competitor Rusty Napier defeated Kilby in 19 holes in their quarterfinal match on Thursday at Harlingen Country Club.
After being three holes down on the final four, Kilby rallied to force overtime. But on the first extra hole, Kilby bogeyed while Napier sank a short put that sat on the edge of the cup for half a second before falling to secure par and seal the victory.
The shot was actually so close to not going in that, for a moment, Napier said he began thinking bout how he was going to play the next hole.
“It wasn’t a good putt. Why it went in, I don’t know,” explained Napier. “It dropped on the low side of the cup, breaking hard away from the cup and it still went in. When it did go in, I was really surprised because it was not a good putt.”
Thursday’s match between the two wasn’t the first time they had crossed paths. According to Napier, this was their fifth time playing each other over the past 20 years.
“The first year I was down here, in 1997, I played in the final and Mr. Kilby beat me and he just tortured me, and ever since then I have been trying to get back at him. But he is 10 times the golfer I am,” said Napier. “He didn’t have his best game today and he got some bad breaks on some very good shots. I didn’t play great, but I played good enough.
“He was putting so much pressure on me that the last thing I wanted to do is play that last hole.”
Napier will now play Brewer in the semifinals today. Brewer defeated Guy Bent in the quarterfinals. Tee time is set for 8 a.m.
Both Brewer and Napier will keep a close eye on the other championship semifinal against Dan MacDonald and Chris Wicker, who defeated 2012 winner Ray Iler on Thursday to advance.
Today’s semifinal winners will face off in the title match on Saturday, which is set to tee off around 1 p.m.