QUINCY -- A two-stroke deficit heading into the back nine. A group of hungry competitors all with their eyes on the title. The scorching heat and being the shortest hitter in the final pairing.
None of that kept Adam Pfeiffer from making history Sunday.
Pfeiffer became just the second man to win the Quincy City Men's Golf Championships eight times, turning in back-to-back rounds of 68 at Westview Golf Course for a two-day score of 6-under 136 and a two-stroke victory. He is now tied with Mike O'Connell for most championships since the beginning of the tournament in 1924.
"It's humbling. Obviously there have been so many unbelievably good players that have played in this tournament," Pfeiffer said, holding the trophy that will now bear his name for an eighth time. "I look at the trophy and I see Luke Guthrie on there. I see Zach Burry. I see Scott Gilliland, who played in the tournament today for the first time in a long time.
"It's extremely humbling to be a part of this, I have been extremely fortunate. I have played some unbelievably good rounds and I've gotten lucky. This year, I got lucky."
Pfeiffer's fortune began to change on the 10th hole. Heading into the back nine down two strokes to Ryan Schuenke, Pfeiffer hit his drive within 50 yards of the green on 10 and landed softly next to the pin with his second shot for an easy birdie putt.
Pfeiffer followed with par on the par-3 11th hole, but all three of his playing mates -- including Schuenke -- bogeyed, pulling Pfeiffer into a tie for the lead.
Schuenke dropped two more shots after hitting into a hazard on 12, and with a par Pfeiffer was officially ahead by two just three holes after trailing by two.
It only took one birdie and par golf for Pfeiffer to regain the lead, a strategy he's employed regularly since his first City title in 2005.
"Patience prevails sometimes," Pfeiffer said. "It seems like everybody come back to the pack for the most part. Sometimes you just have to be patient and take what the course gives you. I did that today and was fortunate enough to win."
McCulla and Schuenke both finished with 138s to tie for second place. Both men entered the day with a share of the lead at 4-under, but back-to-back bogeys by McCulla to open the round dropped him behind quickly.
He regained a stroke with a birdie on hole five, but another back-to-back bogeys on 10 and 11 put McCulla behind the ball again.
"That was some of the worst golf I've played in the last two or three years," McCulla said after the round. "I haven't been 3-over at Westview through 11 holes in two or three years. I just played bad, that's all there is to it. I didn't hit it good, I didn't putt it good, I didn't do anything good. You can't put pressure on someone when you're not doing anything good."
As Pfeiffer continued to build his lead, McCulla worked himself back into contention. A par on the par-4 12th helped steady the ship, then birdies on 13 and 14 had McCulla rolling. He had chances on 15 and 17 for birdies that could have put pressure on Pfeiffer, but the final push just wasn't there.
"I started out bad and played bad up until about the 13th hole," McCulla said. "It just wasn't my week. I think I hit maybe five fairways all week, and you don't deserve to win if you only hit five fairways all week. I don't even know if I hit that many.
"I'm not mad it didn't end in a different result, it just is what it is. I didn't deserve it this week, so I didn't get it."
While McCulla missed his birdie opportunity on 17, Pfeiffer converted his. Rather than drive the 17th fairway, Pfeiffer chose to hit to the middle of the 16th fairway to give him a better opportunity of reaching the par-5's green in two shots. He did just that, and a calm two-putt gave Pfeiffer a three-stroke lead heading to the final hole.
"Obviously as it got down the stretch I was grinding to try to make one more birdie just to try and get a little bit more cushion for me," Pfeiffer said. "Especially the last two holes with me being the short hitter in the group, you can definitely do some damage on those last two holes. It was definitely important for me to make one more birdie to close it out."
His eighth city championship is a milestone for Pfeiffer and another achievement in what has been a solid summer for him on the links. He now sets his sights towards becoming the first nine-time champion.
"Experience prevails most of the time," he said. "As long as I can play my game and be confident in what I'm doing I know I can do it."