Outdriven by as much as 70 yards most of the day, Darryl Jack was not intimidated.
“That doesn’t bother me. It’s been that way my whole life. The way I look at it is, if I can hit my approach shot first and get it close, I can put a lot of pressure on my opponent.”
That’s exactly what Jack did to long-hitting Cobleskill Golf
& Country Club head pro Bob
Meheran for most of the match en route to a 3-and-2 victory in the finals of the Northeastern New York PGA Match Play Championship Thursday at Capital Hills at Albany.
It was the fourth time in the last six years that the 42-year-old Meheran finished runner-up in this event. He’s been second five times overall.
“This is huge for me,” said Jack, the head pro at Woodstock Golf Club. “Bob is a good friend of mine, and I knew I would have to bring my game with me today in order to defeat him. This is the biggest win I’ve had in a long time, and it’s definitely the best win I’ve had since I joined this section. I was second four times in 2004, but this is the biggest win I’ve had, by far.”
Beginning on the back nine, Jack fell behind on the 11th hole when Meheran rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt, but Meheran failed to capitalize on his huge length advantage, especially on the par-5s. Jack turned the tables on Meheran on the par-5 12th hole with a 35-foot birdie putt to even the match.
Jack then won three more holes in a row. He birdied the 13th hole and won the next two holes with pars to go 3-up. When Meheran failed to get up-and-down on both the 17th and 18th holes, Jack made the turn with a hefty 5-up lead.
Jack’s lead almost got larger on the par-5 first hole when Meheran nearly lost his ball in the trees, but it was eventually found, and Meheran got up-and-down for par to halve the hole.
Meheran’s comeback bid was thwarted when he failed to take advantage of a mammoth drive on the 335-yard second hole. Meheran nearly drove the green, but his chip shot checked up on him, and he eventually three-putted for bogey to halve his second hole in a row.
Pars were good enough for Meheran to win the next two holes. Jack made a rare error on a chip shot on the third hole, and he three-putted on the par-3 fourth hole to allow Meheran to slice the deficit even more.
But the players halved the next three holes, with Jack securing a par from just off the green on the par-3 seventh hole to clinch the win.
“On our back nine, it got a little ugly,” said Jack, a 44-year-old Syracuse native and SUNY-New Paltz graduate. “Bob didn’t have his best stuff today, but on the front nine, I played as well as I possibly could. He hit some loose shots to give me some breaks.
“I putted well all week, and I felt good over the ball,” said Jack, who not only ran his own golf school in Kingston but was also the former head pro at Wiltwyck Golf Club and was an instructor at the Jim McLean Golf School.
Meheran wished he could have played the way he had earlier in the tournament, when he dominated the par-5s.
“It was not my day,” he said. “Darryl played great. It just wasn’t there for me today.
“It all began on my first hole. I had an excellent chance for birdie, but I misread my putt. It fooled me. From there on, my game wasn’t quite there.”
Yet Meheran admitted that he still had a chance to rally late in the match.
“You can’t ever just mope around. I caught myself doing that for a while, and I think I snapped myself out of it,” he said. “But the 11th hole was a killer. I hit that big drive, but then the chip shot didn’t release the way I thought it would and the way it did most of the week. A lot of things like that happened to me today, and I got into a poor mindset. That’s the way golf is sometimes.
“It’s very frustrating. I’ve been runner-up five times in this event.”
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