The Capital of Annapolis
CROFTON, Md. (AP) - There's no quit in the Carpenters.
Take the final hole of the 2010 European Father and Son Golf Championship in Spain.
The Crofton team thought they needed a birdie to win, but Gary Carpenter Jr. pulled his drive into the woods.
Instead of folding under the pressure, the 37-year-old manufactured a shot worthy of recent Masters winner Bubba Watson. He hit a cut that went under trees, then over the clubhouse and a bar and grill before landing on the fairway.
"We were on such a roll that nerves didn't come into play," said Gary Carpenter Sr., 60.
The team did indeed finish with a birdie, even though it turned out par would have also given them the title.
It was the first of two consecutive European championships, to go along with two back-to-back U.S. triumphs. In the process, the Carpenters, whose home course is the Crofton Country Club, bested hundreds of other father-son teams.
"You have to be excited for them," said Rick Furlough of Pasadena, a member of the Crofton club who knows them well. "What a duo. They're incredible and they're just as nice as their game."
And pretty modest to boot.
When asked their key to success, the elder Carpenter, an insurance agent, replied: "I know my role. (My son's) the horse, I'm the jockey. I just ride along and hope the horse goes great."
Gary Jr. turned pro after college and played mini-tour events for seven years without breaking through to the PGA. Now a married father with a young daughter, he works as a sales representative for a liquor company _ and might be playing better than ever. He carries a plus 2 handicap; Gary Sr. is an 8 handicap.
The younger Carpenter's lowest all-time round is 62, shot at a professional tournament in Maine. His father's low round, a 69, came at Crofton.
Gary Jr. said his life is more stable today, and he's more mature. "My game was ready physically (when I turned pro), but I don't know if I was ready mentally," he said.
He added that playing well when someone else is depending on him, especially his father, is more rewarding than playing well alone. He attributes their success in the father-son tournaments to knowing each other's games.
"There are teams that hit the ball better, there are teams that hit it longer, but there aren't teams that put it together as well as we can," Gary Sr. said.
They wear matching golf attire on the course, right down to vests with a special logo the younger Carpenter designed, a spin-off of the Ryder Cup logo.
The U.S. father-son event, which is held in Myrtle Beach, S.C., consists of three different formats over three days _ fourball, alternate shot and a scramble. The European event, also held over three days at the El Rompido Golf Resort in Spain, is all fourball.
"We're so proud of them," said Dave Whitaker, a longtime friend of Gary Sr.'s. "They represent not only the Crofton area, but the whole area. And they just couldn't be better people. It's a family thing."
The Carpenters will defend their U.S. title this summer, but are unclear about returning to Spain for the European event. Their plans, in part, will be determined by how they do in Myrtle Beach.
"They bring out the best in each other," said Matt Brady, a fellow Crofton Country Club member who has played in the U.S. father-son championship with his own dad. "They complement each other well. You play well when you're relaxed and having fun, and they're having a lot of fun."
The Carpenters have been playing father-son events for about eight years, not too long after Gary Jr. got his amateur status back.
Gary Sr. taught him the game, as well as a younger son, Scott. Known as "coach" since he's provided instruction in so many sports, Gary Sr. also mentors junior golfers at Crofton. He learned the game from his grandfather, so the father-son tournaments represent four generations of Carpenter golf.
The Carpenters play three or four team events each year, as well as teeing up at Crofton several times a week. They don't necessarily always play together.
Gary Jr. said the best advice his father ever gave him had nothing to do with golf. "I wouldn't relate most of his advice to golf," he said. "It's advice about being a better person, being a better man."
His golf dream is to quality for the U.S. Open, something he's come close to achieving before and will try for again this year. Gary Sr.'s dream is to play at Augusta National Golf Club, the site of the Masters.
For now, though, both are quite content with their father-son success.
"It's a major accomplishment," Gary Jr. said, "and doing it with dad tops it off."
Information from: The Capital of Annapolis, Md., http://capitalgazette.com
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