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Tolliver has ‘Tin Cup’ moment

Steve Yingling
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Billy Joe Tolliver takes a drop on the cart path on the 18th hole Sunday.
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STATELINE – Kevin Costner was nowhere in sight on the 18th hole at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, but Billy Joe Tolliver was doing his best to play one of his characters at the American Century Championship.

Tolliver was in character – Roy McAvoy’s that is – as he boldly tried to blast his second shot from the sand to a green guarded by water on both sides. He had a four-point lead at the time and needed a bogey or better to complete his winning scorecard.

“From the point when I was looking at chipping it out or going for it, I just decided, well, if I go for it and I hit a bad shot in the lake, the lake left would have been a heck of a lot better than where I hit it,” Tolliver said. “I figured I could make six from there and they had to make eagle. If I don’t make six, then it’s tied and we go to a playoff.”

Trent Dilfer, who finished second behind the winner, marveled at Tolliver’s thought process.

“You really thought about all of that? That’s why you won. I just try to make contact,” Dilfer said.

Tolliver responded, “I did deciphering. I’m a thinking man.”

Tolliver’s second shot landed on the sand to the right of the green, not far from the cool water of Lake Tahoe. Keeping his cool, Tolliver asked for a rules official in order to complete a drop where the ball entered the natural hazard. After two drops on the cart path, Tolliver was able to place the ball on the pavement with a one-stroke penalty.

His ensuing chip shot landed in the rough short of the green, but he calmly chipped 3 feet past the hole on his next stroke and eventually made his bogey six.

Tolliver could have avoided his final-hole shocker if he didn’t let his boys back home interrupt his thinking. Like “McAvoy,” Tolliver decided to go for on the 18th tee, hitting his driver.

“My plan on the tee was to take it at the trees on the right-hand side and if it did happen to turn over, which I had no reason to believe it would because I never turn it left with a driver, I’m over there forced to lay it up and boys back home can’t call me a coward for hitting an iron off the tee,” Tolliver said.

Tolliver considered hitting his second shot back out to the fairway, but had a better opening by going for the green.

“I’m a little bit void of talent, so naturally I blocked out into the beach where I always spend Sunday,” Tolliver said. “I think I’ve thrown away $300,000 or $400,000 out there on that beach. They ought to call it Joe’s Beach. They have Lake Laimbeer, why can’t I have Joe’s Beach over there? I live at that place.”

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