DURANGO Father knows best.
Especially when it comes to the final pressure-packed holes of the final round of the annual Navajo Trail Open golf tournament.
With the patience only a father of two teenagers could muster and the tournament hanging in the balance, Micah Rudosky of Cortez outlasted the tempestuous young guns of golf to win the 50th annual Navajo Trail Open on a blustery Sunday afternoon at Hillcrest Golf Club.
Yes, dad won on Fathers Day with wife Annette as his caddy in one of the most dramatic finishes in Navajo Trail history.
The lead in the golf tournament changed hands three times in the final three holes.
Rudosky led only once in the course of the 54-hole tournament: when his short putt dropped into the cup for a patient par on a darkened 18th green early Sunday evening.
Just two holes earlier, Brad Besler of Blessing, Texas, was positioned to win his first NTO championship.
He had moved ahead of second-round leader Justin Bardgett of Boulder with a string of birdies through the heart of Hillcrest at 8, 9, 11 and 12.
At the 16th tee, Besler was at 7-under par, two shots ahead of Bardgett and four ahead of Rudosky, who had just drained a quiet birdie at No. 15.
Besler and Bardgett both bogeyed No. 16, while Rudosky finished with a conservative par.
The biggest swing of the match followed at No. 17 when Bardgett vaulted into the lead with an eagle after dropping his second shot within six feet of the cup on the long, 564-yard par 5.
Besler, meanwhile, had a par putt to hold the lead. But the ball rolled past twice leaving him with a painful double bogey. He fell to 5 under, one shot behind Bardgett. And he was tied with Rudosky, who guess what? dropped another birdie on the boys.
At No. 18, with the pressure mounting and the light failing, Rudosky hit a clean second shot just short of the green on the par 4, 479-yard finishing hole.
Beslers second shot veered left, catching a tree branch and falling 60 yards short of the green.
Bardgett went to the other extreme, parking his second shot in the big pine trees to the right of the 18th green. A former St. Louis prep standout, Bardgett had to chip between two pines, and his shot came up short of the green.
His tenuous lead vanished when his next chip rolled 12 feet past the cup.
Likewise, Beslers third shot rolled up onto the green with a long putt left for par.
Rudoskys third shot, perhaps his best of the day, headed right for the cup and nearly went in, stopping less than a foot away.
Beslers par putt rolled wide; bogey for Besler.
Bardgetts bogey putt rolled wide; double for Bardgett.
Par for Rudosky and a third NTO title to go with previous titles from 2005 and 1996.
I really didnt think I was in position to win, but I was patient, said Rudosky, who finished 69-68-71208.
It was tough out there. Brad (Besler) and Justin (Bardgett) had a couple of 3-putts there at the end, he said, reminding himself that with Hillcrests icy-quick greens you can never give up.
You never know what can happen with these greens, he said.
I was fortunate to come out with the win, Rudosky said That was a horrible finish for Brad ... I felt bad for him.
Besler shot a final round 72 after closing his last two holes at double bogey-bogey. He finished at 209, tied for second with Bardgett and his closing 73.
I was just thinking about three birdies after 14, just to stay respectable, said Rudosky, the head pro at Conquistador and the head coach of the Montezuma-Cortez High School golf team.
And I made three birdies coming in (14, 15, 17). Then at 18, it was playing so tough, I just wanted to stay in the middle, Rudosky said.
So I hit driver, 5-iron to the hole , he said.
This shows youve got to play to the end, said Rudosky, who added his two children missed Sundays final round because they are in Texas at a junior golf tournament.
If (son) Jakob had been here, he would have been on the bag. But my wife Annette stepped in, and it worked out great, Rudosky said.
Bardgett, disappointed when his chance to win slipped away on the 18th hole, said he was pleased with his performance in spite of the finish.
I made two eagles on the back nine ... thats something Ive never done before, he said.
I was in a position to win at 18. I thought I hit a good chip, but I needed to fly it a little farther, he said of his third shot from behind the trees that came up short of the green.
But Micah played solid all day long, Bardgett said.
The more consistent guy won.
Jeff Berkshire of Phoenix and Jon Sauer, a former University of New Mexico player from Minnesota, finished tied for fourth at 210, 3-under par.
Former NTO winner Bobby Kalinowski, who finished with a 73 on Sunday, ended up tied for sixth at 211 with Brandon Putnam of Albuquerque.
Amateur and defending champion Keenan Holt of Fort Lewis College had Sundays best round with a 69.
Holt and Kalinowski both are Durango High School products.
Brett Viboch, who finished ninth, had the low pro round Sunday with a 70.
The final round at Hillcrest also produced two holes-in-one: William Holden aced No. 12; and pro Barry Milstead of Centennial aced No. 9.
Wayne Crawford of Durango finished his tournament Sunday as the only player to compete in every Navajo Trail Open since 1968.