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Air Force holds off Army to capture Rainier Cup

Northwest Guardian

Published: 01:10PM June 26th, 2014

While the Rainier Cup trophy will remain at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, it’s moving from Eagles Pride Golf Course to Whispering Firs Golf Course.

After three days of competition, which included 54 holes for 120 golfers at three Puget Sound golf courses, the Air Force team regained possession of the cup after winning the 17th Rainier Cup Golf Tournament June 22.

But the win didn’t come without a last-minute run by Army, last year’s champions. This year, the Army team was in third place and trailing the Air Force team by 10 points.

Despite winning the most points on the third day, the Army team fell three and a half points short of Air Force, which finished with 86 points.

“They went back in front by three or four, and we won the last three or four matches that came in,” said Jeff Clark, director of Whispering Firs Golf Course at McChord Field and team director.

Army took second place with 82.5 points after three days of golf, followed by Navy with 71.5 points.

During the Rainier Cup, each branch hosts one day of the competition. This year’s tournament began with a two-person scramble June 20 at the Navy’s Gallery Golf Course on Whidbey Island.

It continued with a “shamble” round, which is a combination of scramble and stroke play, June 21 at Whispering Firs on McChord Field before finishing with singles match play at Eagles Pride.

The Rainier Cup has been a premier golf tournament among local installations, representing Army, Air Force and Navy (from Naval Base Kitsap), since 1997.

The Navy has captured the trophy eight times. The Air Force has won six times. Army has won twice.

“This is the closest we get to playing in the Ryder Cup,” said Ruel Poliquit of the Army team.

While many of the golfers credited the tournament as a fun weekend that builds camaraderie, everyone was still focused on winning.

“There is no second place,” said Doug Levesque of McChord Field. “When you put 120 people together, you’re going to get some competition.”

Some golfers even fought through physical pain to bring their teams to victory. Steve Holshouser suffered a stress fracture in his right hand two weeks before the tournament.

Regardless of the injury, he played all three days of the tournament, and finished the tournament shooting a 79 at Eagles Pride to earn two points that day.

“It’s not like I can’t swing the club,” Holshouser said. “Yeah it hurts, but I got (medication) this morning, so it’s not too bad.”

Playing in his sixth Rainier Cup, Holshouser didn’t want to miss an opportunity to help the Air Force regain possession of the trophy from the Army.

Clark added that Air Force golfer Brian Crowley was playing all three days with a broken foot.

While it was nice to hold the trophy last year, Army team captain James Foster didn’t mind giving it to Air Force this year. He said they showed as much dedication as both his team and the Navy squad.

“I’m very proud of our teams battling; keeping their heads up; and maintaining integrity, sportsmanship and pride,” Foster said.

After the competition, golfers from all three branches sat together within the Caddy Shack Bar and Grill at Eagles Pride’s clubhouse, enjoyed a barbecue and watched the U.S. vs. Portugal World Cup soccer match.

While they played each other as three different golf teams, everyone ended the weekend of golf as a united Armed Forces group.

“We’re all one team that went out, had fun and enjoyed the camaraderie,” said Mike McDonald, director of golf at Eagles Pride.