Recreation

Chris James gives Cedar Rapids a tie, Ryder Cup

Linn-Mar golf coach makes deciding putt on final hole

CEDAR RAPIDS — The main plot was edge-of-your-seat drama, the subplot an interesting twist of fate.

First things first.

Chris James, tied with Iowa City’s Clint Donovan going into the final hole at Gardner Memorial Golf Course on Sunday, knew he needed a win if Cedar Rapids wanted to retain the Ryder Cup trophy these two cities have battled for for 20 years now.

A tie would hand Iowa City the Cup for the first time since 2005.

“I kind of knew it would come down to a putt on the last hole,” said James, the reigning Cedar Rapids City Amateur champ and golf coach at Linn-Mar.

It did just that.

When Donovan missed his birdie putt on No. 18, the pressure was on James. He stood over his ball for several minutes, head down in deep thought, before draining his putt.

The two teams tied, 12-12, for the third time since Iowa City’s last win, but the Cup will stay in Cedar Rapids for the 13th straight year. Iowa City led, 6.5 to 5.5, going into Sunday’s singles matches — for the third year in a row.

“I love it,” James said. “I just tell myself to trust it, I’ve done it a thousand times.”

James’ playing partner in Saturday’s better ball and alternate shot rounds, and his cart mate Sunday, was his former Cedar Rapids Washington teammate Nick Miller.

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Miller had his own drama unfolding on this beautiful and sunny afternoon, playing against his uncle Randy Miller — the man who made Nick his first set of clubs and taught him the game of golf.

“That was tough,” said the 56-year-old Randy, who lost to his nephew, 3 and 2, setting up the final drama between James and Donovan. “That was probably one of the hardest matches I’ve played in.”

The student surpassed the teacher on this day.

“It was just a lot of fun to play good golf against him,” Nick said. “But it was hard. It was tough to try and take on my uncle.”

Randy’s emotions ran from losing a key match to being a proud uncle.

“I played well,” said Randy, who was 2-under through 16 holes when the match ended. Nick was 4-under. “He just played better.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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