In match play, not every victory is secured with a great approach shot or a clutch putt.
Luck can play a large role.
Just ask Frank Mellet of Colonie Golf & Country Club, Todd Manderson of Ballston Spa Country Club and Ian Breen of Canajoharie Country Club, who each lost their Round of 16 matches in the Northeastern New York PGA Match Play Championship Tuesday with some old-fashioned bad luck.
Mellet, who lost his match with host head pro Steve Vatter of Capital Hills at Albany, 1-up, hit his approach shot into bunkers on three occasions, and twice, he got terrible lies.
“I felt badly for Frank,” said Vatter. “On one of the holes that he found a bunker, his ball landed in a deer paw print, and on another, his ball settled in a human foot print. Those were bad breaks.”
Manderson shot a five-under-par 66 against top-seeded Josh Hillman of Berkshire Hills Country Club, but he had the misfortune of playing against the NENYPGA’s hottest player. After rolling in a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that could have forced extra holes, Manderson’s upset bid was halted when Hillman, the defending champion and winner of the last three section majors, rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt of his own to win, 1-up.
Breen was even with four-time NENYPGA Player of the Year Peter Gerard of Mill Road Acres going into the final hole of their match, but when he hit his approach shot into the green-side bunker, he got a horrible lie near the lip. He blasted out, but still had a 15-foot par putt, which he missed. Gerard, whose approach shot landed only a few yards from Breen’s in the fringe, only had to lag his birdie putt into tap-in range to win the match, 1-up.
“That was a tough lie for Ian on the last hole,” said Gerard. “There was almost nothing he could do on that shot. I was only a few yards away, and I got a good lie.”
Gerard, who connected on three birdies against Breen, was two-down after two holes when Breen opened the match with back-to-back birdies. Their match was even after nine, and the lead see-sawed on their back nine.
“It was a very good match. I was three- or four-under on my ball, and Ian played well, too,” said Gerard, who has won several Match Play crowns. “Both of us hit the ball pretty well.”
Vatter, who has never won a Match Play title, registered 18 pars in his match.
“I didn’t hit the ball that good. I kind of struggled all day, but I kept grinding away. Pars were good enough to win,” he said.
Also advancing into the quarterfinals were Cobleskill Golf & Country Club head pro Bob Meheran, a 2-and-1 winner over Paul Jaycox of Onteora Club; Darryl Jack of Woodstock, a 2-and-1 victor over second-seeded Bob Mucha of Greenock Country Club; Tom Siddon of Massena Country Club, a 1-up winner over Tom Sullivan of Wyantenuck Country Club; Albany Country Club assistant pro Matt Felber, a 5-and-4 winner over Brian Lowe of Windham Country Club; and Orchard Creek head pro Tom Oppedisano, a 4-and-3 victor over Jeremy Kerr of Oneonta Country Club.
“This is as far as I’ve gotten in the Match Play tournament,” said Jack, who birdied the fifth and ninth holes. “It was a close match. Bob led most of the way, but I got lucky at the end.”
Meheran, the Match Play runner-up three times in the last five years, had to withstand a pair of late birdies from Jaycox to advance.
“There weren’t that many birdies in our match. I won a few holes with pars,” he said.
Meheran, one of the longest hitters on the club-pro circuit, said he doesn’t always play aggressively, despite that length.
“It all depends on the situation,” he said. “If I’ve got a chance to reach a par-5 in two, I’ll give it a try, but it all depends. The key in match play is to play smart.”
Quarterfinals begin this morning at 8, immediately followed by the semifinals. The championship match will be played Thursday at 8 a.m. The winner earns $1,000, plus 500 player of the year points.
First round — Todd Manderson (Ballston Spa) def. David Lis (Wolferts Roost), 1-up; Peter Gerard (Mill Road Acres) def. Scott Warren (Pinehaven CC), 5-and-4; Paul Jaycox (Onteora) def. Eric Smith (Normanside CC), 3-and-2; Darryl Jack (Woodstock) def. Mike Stefanik (Pioneer Hills), 3-and-2; Matt Felber (Albany CC) def. Brian Hampson (Burden Lake), 8-and-6.
Round of 16 — Josh Hillman (Berkshire Hills) def. Manderson, 1-up; Steve Vatter (Capital Hills) def. Frank Mellet (Colonie G&CC), 1-up; Peter Gerard (Mill Road Acres) def. Ian Breen (Canajoharie CC), 1-up; Bob Meheran (Cobleskill G&CC) def. Jaycox, 2-and-1; Jack def. Bob Mucha (Greenock CC), 2-and-1; Tom Siddon (Massena CC) def. Tom Sullivan (Wyantenuck CC), 1-up; Felber def. Brian Lowe (Windham CC), 5-and-4;Tom Oppedisano (Orchard Creek) def. Jeremy Kerr (Oneonta CC), 4-and-3.
8:00 – Hillman vs. Vatter; 8:08 – Gerard vs. Meheran; 8:16 – Jack vs. Siddon; 8:24 – Felber vs. Oppedisano.
Hillman-Vatter winner vs. Gerard-Meheran winner; Jack-Siddon winner vs. Felber-Oppedisano winner.