GOP Storms Back to Win Coveted Roll Call Cup

Posted September 29, 2003 at 6:40pm

On the first crisp day of fall, the GOP team engineered a stunning come-from-behind victory on the golf course, winning the second annual First Tee Congressional Challenge in dramatic fashion to retain the coveted Roll Call cup.

Democrats took a surprising 6-4 lead over the Republicans after the first two rounds of the Ryder Cup-style tournament at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Md.

Over the course of those first 18 holes, the parties competed in match play with partners from each squad duking it out with twosomes from the other side.

As the two squads broke for lunch in the Grill Room at the club, Rep. Mike Simpson (Idaho) predicted that his GOP cohorts would do better in the afternoon, when Members would be battling one-on-one.

“We Republicans are individualists,” Simpson told the bipartisan group of diners amid laughter. “We don’t play well with others.”

Simpson’s half-joking prediction turned out to be correct, as the Republicans swept the afternoon and won the tournament by a score of 11-9.

The competition was fierce, with Members jockeying to out-maneuver one another on the course and lawmakers standing an extra long time over critical putts. Highlights of the event will be shown on The Golf Channel at a later date.

Rep. Mike Oxley (Ohio), the GOP captain, appeared to be stunned during lunch to learn that his team had slipped behind in the morning. And his jubilation in the afternoon was tempered a bit by the fact that his team escaped with just a two-point victory, after a one-point win last year.

“It shows you how close these matches are,” Oxley said. “In two years they played 54 holes of golf and the teams were only separated by three holes.”

The Democratic captain, Rep. Chris John (La.), was disappointed to come up short by the smallest of margins again. “This will stay with us as it did last year,” he said of having to wait another 12 months to try to wrest the coveted Roll Call cup out of Oxley’s hands.

Both captains came together, however, to express satisfaction that this year’s event raised more than $100,000 for the First Tee, which tries to open up the game of golf to people of all backgrounds.

“We’re very, very happy that 20 Members of Congress would spend a day and have a lot of fun and rivalry, but raise a significant amount of money for the First Tee,” said Joe Louis Barrow Jr., who runs the charity.