Pollard, the No. 15 seed, took out No. 2 Ott Chandler 1-up in their opening-round match of the Calhoun County Match Play Championship at Cane Creek Golf Course.
He advances to play No. 10 Grant Hockman, who scored a mild upset of his own, defeating No. 7 Daniel Black 5-and-4.
“I knew I could beat him, but I wasn’t expecting to beat him,” said Pollard, eliminated in the opening round last year by eventual winner Gary Wigington. “I was just going to give it a run
“I’ve played with him three or four times so percentage-wise I was due at some point, but Ott's a good player and it would’ve been a matter of me making some putts and him missing some. The next time we play he could beat me by (a bunch).”
The match featured some breathtaking shot-making on the back nine, with both players holing out for eagle in the closing holes.
Chandler, last year's runner-up, chipped in for birdie on 12, but Pollard matched with a 10-foot birdie putt to keep the match all square.
Pollard then made a 50-footer for birdie on 13 to take the lead.
On 16, Pollard delivered a broadside, holing a 3-hybrid from 200 yards for eagle to go 2 up.
“That was the best shot I ever hit,” he said. “I’ve hit a hole-in-one, but that’s on a 100-yard par-3. It was pretty wild.”
That was only the beginning.
Chandler countered on 17 and holed out from 115 yards for his own eagle to get back to 1 down with one hole to play.
“It was honestly the craziest two holes back-to-back I ever witnessed as far as hole-outs go,” Pollard said. “I’ve seen stuff like that on TV and I’ve seen people make some good putts, but as far as holing out from 100 yards or more consecutively, I’ve never seen that before. It was wild. We were both kind of dumb-founded after he did it, too.”
The match ended with both players halving 18 with pars.
Hockman played a bogey-free round in his match and seized control with birdies on 7, 10 and 14.
In the first match of the tournament, top-seeded Gary Wigington opened his defense with a 2&1 win over No. 16 Dalton Chandler.
Other tentatively scheduled matches include No. 8 Adrian Geeting vs. No. 9 Billy Thompson today for the right to meet Wigington; No. 5 Jaylon Ellison vs. No. 12 Clay Calkins Tuesday; and No. 6 Matt Rogers vs. Sunny King Classic partner No. 11 Frank Brady early next week.
The other first-round matches include No. 4 Janson Wilborn against his father, No. 13 seed Gary; and No. 3 Jeremy McGatha against No. 14 Mark Durden.
Al Muskewitz covers golf for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.