Clinging to a one-stroke lead in Sunday’s final round of the City Golf Championship, Derek Hayes’ first hole-in-one came at the most opportune time. Hayes’ ace padded his slim advantage and helped spark him to his third city title in the past four years. Hayes finished with three-day total of 204, -9 for the tournament, to edge Max Kirsch by three strokes and Tom Facciani by four shots at Berkley Hills Golf Course.
“Never had a hole-in-one so you come not to really expect them to go in,” Hayes said. “Max and Tom were both hitting good shots. I was just trying to hit a good shot on the green. I happened to hit a good one right at it. It took one bounce and we saw it disappear. It was kind of crazy.”
The highlight came on the 14th hole, No. 5 on the nine-hole course. Hayes used an 8-iron on the 165-yard hole.
“I was 1-up at the time, so it was a big moment in the tournament,” said Hayes, who also won in 2017 and 2018. “I kind of had to calm myself down because everybody was running over congratulating me and you forget there’s four holes left in the tournament. Tom and Max were both making birdies, so I couldn’t just celebrate. I had to get back to playing golf. At the end of the day, if I wouldn’t have won, I still would have been pretty disappointed so I had to bear down for four more holes and get it done.”
Hayes, a Westmont Hilltop graduate and Berkley Hills general manager, finished Sunday with a round of 67 to complement his sizzling Saturday score of 64, his tournament-best mark. Kirsch, a Central Cambria product who played collegiately at Indiana (Pa.), recorded a 66 to finish as runner-up with a score of 207 (-6). Facciani, last year’s champ, carded a 208 (-5) for the tournament, one shot behind Kirsch. Jesse Rager clubbed a Sunday-best 65 to place fourth (-2).
In order to achieve victory, Hayes had to overcome adversity earlier this year.
“I played great the last couple years,” said Hayes, who led by two strokes over Facciani entering Sunday. “This year, I really haven’t played much. I broke my finger. I started playing a couple weeks ago. Honestly, I haven’t been playing that good. I struggled on Friday. Something just clicked yesterday and I kind of found it again. It’s nice to be out there competing. That’s all that I was hoping to do was compete, so to win three out of four is pretty cool.”
Despite the uncertainty COVID-19 provided the tournament, the field of 18 was glad to add to its rich history.
“This is my favorite weekend of the year,” Hayes said. “I’ve known most of these guys since high school, which is close to 20 years now for some of us. We use it more as kind of a reunion weekend that happens to have a golf tournament, too. So normally there’s a pretty good chance if you don’t win, one of your best friends is going to win. That’s pretty cool.
"We have a lot of fun. I was worried with everything going on earlier this year there might have been a chance we couldn’t play it, so I’m thrilled not only did we play it, but we had a pretty good turnout this year.”