The team of Mike Howley and Ray Shinkle proved there’s no substitute for experience on Saturday while posting seven birdies and overcoming the largest, most talented field in Tournament history to win the 2016 Invitational Shootout. 68 teams and 136 golfers were part of a record-setting turnout in support of the Ruddy Children Fund at Water’s Edge Golf Club on a mostly overcast afternoon in Worth, IL.
With nine current or former Champions in the field, Howley and Shinkle used a white-hot start to grab a quick lead which they ultimately never relinquished. The duo birdied their first hole, the 178-yard par three 7th, on the strength of a majestic 7-iron from Ray Shinkle that landed 12 feet from the cup.
Howley and Shinkle finished at seven under 65 to outlast two teams of former Champions by a single stroke – George Les/Paul Maolitsis and Rob Garcia/Billy Les. 2016 Champion Shane Hennessey-York finished two strokes behind the Champions.
Howley and Shinkle tallied five birdies in their first nine holes, for a score of 31, the second best front nine in Shootout history trailing only Hammer Hyland and Dave Neill‘s 30 in 2009. Mike and Ray would add two more birdies and seven pars on the back nine to post a seven under par 65.
“Getting off to a solid start on hole number seven, which many consider to be the toughest on the course, was huge for our confidence” said Ray Shinkle. “I had new clubs in the bag this week and hitting that tee shot to within 12 feet definitely set the tone. I really want to thank the guys at Titleist for providing me with some amazing technology.”
“The plan today was to start fast and see if we could run away from the field” said Mike Howley. “We new the competition level out there today would be a huge challenge, so our goal was to push the pace and rely our experience in the heat of the battle over the final few holes. Thankfully our plan worked and I couldn’t be happier with our performance.”
The victory was the second for Howley, who also won the first Invitational Shootout contested at Water’s Edge in 2006. With the win, he becomes only the seventh player with multiple Shootout titles.
Capturing the 23rd edition of The Invitational Shootout was even more important for Ray Shinkle, who won the event in 2002 and 2003 at Maple Meadows Country Club. He now joins George Les as the only players in tournament history with three victories.
“Hats off to Ray for winning again after 13 years” said 2004 Champion Joe Hill. “Especially after losing the playoff in 2013, I think many people questioned whether he could do it again. To overcome a stacked field like this is truly indicative of what a great champion Ray has become.”
“For the past 10 years, the knock on Ray was that, unlike at Maple Meadows, he never could figure out how to score at Water’s Edge” said Mick McDonnell. “This victory proved that he could tame this challenging beast of a golf course under the bright lights of the biggest two-person scramble in the Midwest.”
“Here’s the thing about Mike and Ray… they know how to win” said John Eterno. “There are a lot of teams that come to The Shootout with incredible resumes including victories in college, amateur and even some professional tournaments. But they fall apart under the intense pressure of The Shootout. Howley and Shinkle use their experience better than just about any team out there to overcome everyone and everything they face.”