Ex-Coach Keeps Firing Closest To Pin Shots

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Troy Neal is at it again.

The former high school basketball coach turned businessman, motivational speaker and most recently Gila County rancher is chalking up Payson Men’s Golf Association closest-to-the-pin wins at a record-setting pace similar to what he accomplished during the 2010 links campaign.

During a two-man best ball formatted tournament played June 15 and June 22 at Payson Golf Course, Neal pocketed closest-to-the-pin money in week-one of play swatting to within 4 feet, 6 inches of the flag on No. 17.

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Troy Neal

The following week, he was closest on No. 14 at 10 feet, 3 inches.

For Neal, it was his ninth closest-to-the-pin win of the current season.

During the 2010 campaign, Neal won closest-to-the-pin honors a PMGA record 14 times — a mark he is currently on pace to shatter.

In 2008 during a pick-up game at PGC, the former Tempe High basketball coach went one better than a closest-to-the-pin victory, scoring a hole-in-one on No. 8.

His accuracy on the golf course has those who know him wondering is prowess with the little white ball could be connected with the pinpoint shooting he was known for while launching leather decades ago for Arizona State University Sun Devil basketball teams.

It’s a stretch to believe, but who knows?

Other week-one winners were Ron Fischer, No. 5, 3 feet, 7 inches and No. 8, 1 foot, 11 inches; Alex Armenta, No. 2, 20 feet; and Ken Althoff, No. 14, 5 feet, 11 inches.

In week two, winners included Tom Dahl, No. 2, 15 feet and No. 8, 8 feet, 5 inches; Oscar Garcia, No. 5, 8 feet, 2 inches; and Larry Smith, No. 17, 11 feet, 4 inches.

In addition to Neal winning two closest-to-the-pin contests, he also teamed with Ed Flores to finish first in the best ball tournament standings.

The pair finished at 117 to out-duel the runner-up team of Ralph Lindo and Alex Armenta. The silver medalists posted a 121.

With a 121, Phil Wagner and Frank Szakal were third.

Steve Vincent and Terry Lindsey posted a 124 and were fourth. At 124, Popeye Clay and Jerry McGuire were fifth via a scorecard playoff.

In individual play, Garcia’s low gross score of 77 was best of the two weeks. Bob Brendle won the low net title at 70.

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