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Stonington - Anthony Kargul never expected to capture another Elmridge Golf Course men's club championship after winning his fifth title in 2008.
"You always think that you're never going to get there again," Kargul said. "It's never easy."
And when Kargul reached the 36-hole final on Sunday and faced two-time defending champion Daniel Terray, who had beaten him the previous two years, he wasn't counting on his name going up on the championship board in the clubhouse.
Kargul was wrong on both counts.
Riding a late surge, Kargul pulled away and posted a 3-and-2 win.
"Coming into the tournament, I wasn't playing well," said Kargul, an unassuming 51-year-old Gales Ferry resident and roughly 30-year plus member at Elmridge. "I just happen to play well the last two weekends."
Neither golfer could establish a comfortable lead until Kargul won the 30th, 31st and 32nd holes to go 3-up.
But Kargul never felt comfortable even when preparing to tee off on the seventh hole of the blue course holding a three-hole lead with three to play.
He knew that Terray rallied from two down with three holes remaining to win his semifinal match on Saturday against Duane Vance.
"He's pulled more matches out of his hat," Kargul said. "He's a really good champion. He plays very, very hard. He grinds all the way. It's just so tough. He's never out of a hole and makes putts from everywhere. … He's a magician."
The steady Kargul still had a few tricks in his golf bag. He masterfully played the par 5, seventh. His well-executed short chip shot from in front of the green set up a short birdie putt while Terray tried to scramble to recover from a wayward tee-shot.
The match ended there.
"I battled through and hung in there…," Terray said. "I feel good because I didn't play my usual golf and I persevered to make it to this point."
Terray, who's from Old Saybrook, was a bit erratic at times but still made enough good shots to remain in the hunt.
Trailing by two holes after the morning round, he got hot, winning three straight holes to take a 1-up lead and temporarily wrestle away momentum.
Kargul responded, sinking a tough 15-foot downhill putt to even the match.
"I was getting a little antsy and then he missed a short putt on four," Kargul said. "All of a sudden, I calmed right down after that. That was the turning point. I played well after that."
It's been a good club tournament season for Kargul who finished as the runner-up playing in the senior event for the first time.
Kargul had an even better run in the men's club championship. He credited his caddy, Steve Prachniak of Stonington, with keeping him calm during the weekend matches.
In the semifinals, Kargul shot even par and defeated top-seeded Dave Award, 4 and 3
"That was my best round of the year," Kargul said. "Unfortunately, I didn't have it today. I played well the last nine."
Terray, who tried to keep things light during the match, always enjoys playing against Kargul.
"How fitting to be with Anthony this year again," Terray said. "The last three years we've been right there and it's been anyone's match and it came down to whoever outlasted the other.
"I appreciated playing with him. … He played beautifully all weekend."