B.J. Vetrovsky and Nick Simmons finally got over the hump to win the Shotgun Blast Golf Tournament Saturday at the Beatrice Country Club.
The duo has been in position to win the annual member-guest tournament in the past, but came up just short. They finished runner-up three years ago. They finished in the top five two years ago and registered another top 10 finish last year. In each of those years, they found themselves in the lead after Day 1.
This year, they led after Day 1 and were in second place after Day 2. But this year, instead of fading late, they turned their game up a notch.
Vetrovsky, the member of the team, said it all started with Simmons' putter.
"Nick just putted out of his mind on Saturday," Vetrovsky said. "In the past, I had always been the better putter of the two of us, but this year, the hole looked like a swimming pool to Nick."
Through the first eight holes on Saturday, Vetrovsky said they were just trying to survive the hot and windy conditions, but the ninth hole became the turning point. Simmons drained a 25-foot eagle putt and Vetrovsky followed it up with a 10-foot birdie putt.
Vetrovsky then birdied 10 while Simmons saved a par.
"At that point, we kind of looked at each other and said 'here we go,'" Vestrovsky said.
Simmons said the clincher was probably when he made a 40-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole.
"I think that was probably the putt that got us over the hump and to the finish line," Simmons said.
The duo finished just ahead of Eric Trusty and his partner, who had been the leaders entering the final round.
"What was neat about that is Eric (Trusty) is my brother-in-law," Vetrovsky said. "So we got to play together on Saturday and that made it even more special. And I know my nephew Jack (Trusty) was helping us along the way and I hope we made him proud."
Simmons admitted to the irony that it was his putter that got hot on Saturday.
"B.J. has always joked with me that if I could learn how to putt, I could be playing on TV," Simmons said. "I always argued that, but he was right that I was a terrible putter. I worked hard on it the last few months and it paid off. This win was a total team effort, but it was nice that I was finally able to get my putter going."
Vetrossky and Simmons have played in the Shotgun Blast for the last five years and have been friends since high school. They became friends in 1996 when they both played on the Beatrice boys golf team.
Both of them have been familiar with the Shotgun Blast Tournament since they were kids.
"I grew up playing at Wymore, but always heard about the Shotgun Blast and how big of a deal it was," Vetrovsky said. "Never in a million years did I ever think I'd get the opportunity to play in it, much less win it. It's really the last competitive thing that I have in my life and this tournament has always meant a great deal to me because it has such a history to it. It's a really special deal for me and I'm still on Cloud 9."
Simmons grew up playing and working at the Beatrice Country Club, so he is even more familiar with the history that the tournament possesses.
"I've watched all my elders play in this tournament and the people who put it on really make it into a special deal," Simmons said. "It's got a long history to it and it was part of my growing up. To finally win it makes it special and winning it with a great buddy like B.J. makes it more special."
Vetrovsky and Simmons' first Shotgun Championship will also be their last. Simmons plans to join the BCC next year, ending their partnership.
"I've got a family that enjoys to golf and I want to be able to take them out there to play," Simmons said. "The sole reason I haven't joined yet is because of B.J. and the Shotgun Blast. We'll still play in it, but we'll have to find different partners, but I'll never find a partner I enjoy playing with as much as B.J."
The names on the trophy changes every year, but what doesn't change is the course itself. Both Vetrovsky and Simmons said the course was once again in top-notch condition.
"I've played a lot of competitive golf in big tournaments all over," Simmons said. "The Beatrice Country Club is as good as any I've played and the greens are as good as any other course in the state."
Vetrovsky echoed that sentiment.
"Andy and the maintenance crew out there -- they are wizards," Vetrovsky said. "Everything was fair and as gorgeous as always. It's about as good as you can get it."