LOUISVILLE — Husbands and wives might have trouble hanging wallpaper together, but Trey and Shellie Bowling proved that spouses can hang on to win a big golf tournament together.
Trey Bowling built a five-shot lead with six holes to go, and with wife/caddy Shellie helping to keep him steady, he held on to win the 89th Kentucky Open by two shots at Audubon Country Club on Thursday.
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Bowling, a Clay County native and a senior at Eastern Kentucky, finished the three-day tournament 10 under (69-66-71—206).
Former University of Kentucky golfer Andrew Stephens was runner-up at 74-66-68—208, and earned $10,000 as low pro. Former PGA Tour player Ted Schulz was third at 71-67-71—209.
Phil Hendrickson, who swept the State Amateur and Kentucky Open last summer before his senior season at EKU, tied for fourth.
Bowling watched Hendrickson's heroics last year and was tickled to follow him to the winner's circle.
“After seeing my teammate win last year, ‘Go, Colonels!' is all I can say.”
Bowling began the final round tied for the lead with former Western Kentucky golfer Troy Hawkins. But Hawkins four-putted the first hole for a double-bogey, and Bowling had the lead to himself the rest of the day.
He rolled in birdie putts on the second and fourth holes to take command.
Play was interrupted for more than an hour by rain, but it didn't bother Bowling.
He appeared to have put it away on the par-5 12th when he rifled his second shot — a hybrid from 225 yards — to within 6 feet and made eagle.
But he followed that up with a pair of three-putt bogeys.
“That's golf,” he said. “You stick one in tight from 225 and make eagle, then you three-putt from 20 feet. It happens.”
He also bogeyed No. 16 to see his lead shrink to two, but he finished with solid pars.
Bowling credited Shellie, a former EKU golfer who is an assistant pro at Andover Golf & Country Club in Lexington, for helping him in more ways than one.
“She's a very good greens-reader, and she keeps me comfortable out there,” he said. “After I had those two three-putts, she joked with me and kept things light. She told me, ‘No more of those.' ”
Stephens, who graduated from UK in 2007, was the only one to keep any kind of heat on Bowling.
That Stephens was in the mix was a tribute to his tenacity. He was 4-over par after 10 holes in the first round before scrambling back for a 74. He fired a 66 on Wednesday to get back into contention.
Trey Bowling, meanwhile, won over his wife all over again.
She opened the pro shop at Andover at 7 a.m. Thursday morning before her boss told her to “go caddy for your husband.”
She's glad she did.
“This is amazing,” Shellie said as she watched her husband accept congratulations after the biggest victory of his life. “Trey was very confident he could do it. He just doesn't get very nervous. That's what I love about him.
“Last night he was like, ‘You know, babe, I've got a chance to win this.' It's awesome that he did it.”