Sam Stewart and Mark Cusic both knew that there was just one player left to come into the clubhouse that they needed to worry about.
Cusic had just replaced Stewart as the leader in the clubhouse on Wednesday at the Public Links Championship at Greystone Golf Course in White Hall, Md., after carding a 3-under-par 68 second round, one shot ahead of the High Point University sophomore.
But still to come in was Steven Delmar, a Gaithersburg High School grad who walked onto the Coastal Carolina University golf team as a sophomore in 2008. He began the second and final round of the day trailing Stewart by one, but he finished with three consecutive pars to earn his first career victory.
“I played OK,” he said after leaping over Stewart and Cusic on the leaderboard. “I had a couple bad holes, I hit one out of bounds on a par five but all in all I hit it pretty well.”
After battling triple-digit heat in the morning round, the players weighed in for another brawl with Mother Nature midway through the final 18 holes. For close to an hour the bruise-colored sky threatened to open up on the course carved throughout the mountains in White Hall.
After about 20 minutes of growling thunder and spitting rain, lightning began illuminating the sky, forcing the officials to blare the horn calling players in for a delay that lasted more than an hour.
“The wind was blowing, I was scared,” said Stewart, who at 15 became the youngest to be crowned club champion at Piney Branch Golf Club.
At 5:10 p.m. officials announced that players could return to their abandoned balls, but found that the field of 72 had slimmed by 28 after the delay, leaving seven groups with just one player left while three groups called it quits entirely.
Because a player cannot keep his own score, the seven left playing solo had to catch up or wait for a group behind them and join their ranks. Among them was Ray Sheedy, a Mount Airy resident and champion of the Carroll County Cup for the past seven or eight years — he said he can't remember exactly.
“[Ray] Sheedy's by himself?” said a Maryland State Golf Association official, laughing. “I bet we'll see a new course record.”
Sheedy began the second round tied with Cusic and three behind Stewart. But a tumultuous 4-over front nine thinned his chances considerably and then an errant tee shot on the 10th after the delay closed the book.
“Nah, [the delay] doesn't really affect me,” he said after a “smooth” second round 80 put him in 16th place. “I'm so used to sitting in an office all day and popping over to the course so it's nothing new.”
Delmar, meanwhile, returned to the ninth tee to close off a 1-under front nine while Stewart returned to his tee shot on the difficult 16th.
“I had to think about hitting a 5-iron that whole time,” he said as he waited for the second half of the field to finish. He scrambled to finish 1-over in his final three holes for a total of 141, comfortably the leader until Cusic bumped him out with a 140.
Finally, nearly two hours after Stewart tapped in on the 18th, Delmar came in with his 2-under 69 to bring his total to 139, edging Cusic by one to take home the title of the 10th Public Links champion.
“As long as Cusic's back I'll be here,” he said, grinning at the Breton Bay regular. “Somebody's gotta beat this guy.”