Matt Henry won the Champion of Champions Tournament Sunday with a 6-under-par 66.
Matt Henry won the Champion of Champions Tournament Sunday with a 6-under-par 66. (File Photo)

ROUNDTOWN -- Matt Henry is known for being one of the longest hitters off the tee in the York County Amateur Golf Association.

His short game, however, hasn't always been there this year.

So Henry decided to do something he usually shuns: practice. The powerful right-hander out of South Hills Golf Club near Hanover broke out a different putter and did some work to shore up his short game.

The extra work certainly paid off for Henry Sunday at the Etzweiler Family Funeral Services Champion of Champions Tournament at the Out Door Country Club.

Henry battled through some difficult wind conditions to knock down eight birdies en route to a 6-under-par 66 to best the field of more than 60 golfers. Steve Goodley finished five shots behind at 1 under, while Gary Stewart Jr. took third at even par.

"I just played well, hit the ball well and kept it in play," Henry said. "I hit it very tight today and I just made my putts. I missed a couple today, but I made my share. It's just one of those rounds where you play solid and everything went together. It was a fun round."

Playing tournaments this year hasn't always been fun for Henry, who has suffered through his share of struggles with one club in particular -- the putter. Henry owns around 10 different putters and decided it was time to make a change.

"I've been hitting the ball well, but it's the 3-to-5 foot range that I haven't been making," he said. "So I changed putters and I actually practiced a little bit ... and I don't like to practice. So I actually went out, worked on it a little bit and it's coming around. I think I got 'er going. I was doing some bad things, but it feels pretty good now."

It became apparent that all aspects of Henry's game were "on" when he recorded a birdie on No. 9, a par 4.

"My worst tee shot was on No. 9," he said. "I hit it right, but I was wide open. I had like 62 yards to the hole, hit it up to two feet and made birdie."

While it was a great ending for the defending tournament champion, the day didn't start off overly well. Henry bogeyed two of the first four holes before catching fire over the final 14 holes.

"I just started striping it," Henry said. "I made a pretty long one on the par 3, No. 6. It was a 20-footer and I made it and that got me started. The hole before that I almost holed it. Got it to about 12 inches."

Once Henry got on a roll, there was no catching him. Goodley, who played in the foursome ahead of Henry, was three shots behind by the turn and was never able to close the gap.

Finishing under par was a good boost of confidence for Goodley, who's battled issues with his back all summer. The lefty nearly decided to take the summer off from the game after the York County Amateur in mid-July.

"I wasn't going to play," Goodley said. "(My back has) been that bad. But golf is a disease. Everybody that's played golf has said at one time or another that they're never going to play this game again and then the next sunny day, they're out there hitting golf balls again."

And so was Goodley, who played his self-described best round of the year.

"(My back) hurt a little on the back nine," he said. "Made a couple of bad swings, but all-in-all it was a good day."

In the Senior Division, Cool Creek's John Lowder Jr., Briarwood West's Bruce Smith and Briarwood's Bill Brenner tied for first place at 3-over-par 75. Hickory Heights' Jack Sheehan was next at 76. Valley Green's Ed Knoll and Country Club of York's Jeff Poet were next at 77.

In the Super Senior Division, Out Door's Lance Smith finished first at 73 on his home course. Another Out Door golfer, Bob Newcomer, was one shot back at 74, followed by South Hills' Ron Duff at 75. Honey Run's Dale Bievenour came in next at 77, followed by Grandview's Greg Hamme at 78.

-- Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.