Colonie Golf & Country Club assistant pro Ian Breen pumped his fist after watching a 25-foot birdie putt roll in on the 18th hole at Mohawk Golf Club.
But the celebration wasn’t for him.
Breen’s boss, head pro Frank Mellet, beat his top assistant, 1-up, in a memorable final round of the Northeastern New York PGA Match Play Championship Wednesday.
What could have been an uncomfortable match between boss and employee turned out to be a low-scoring — and friendly — battle loaded with birdies. Mellet, a former NENYPGA Player of the Year, Match Play champion and section Hall of Famer, rolled in six birdies en route to a four-under-par 67, while Breen, also a former Match Play titlist, registered four birdies on the way to a 68.
“It’s nice to win, especially after finishing second so many times in this event,” said Mellet, who was the runner-up to Bob Mucha last year and now has three Match Play trophies on his mantle. “But for me, it was probably easier playing, because I didn’t really have that much pressure on me. I’ve won this before, and I’ve won a few things over the last couple of years. Obviously, it was very special playing with Ian. It was a real treat.”
Mellet, 53, said he had to play well in all four of matches to earn another Match Play crown.
“Ian was in one bracket, and I was in the other. I thought that if I didn’t win, I hoped he did,” said Mellet. “I played well in all four of my matches. I drove it straight, and I hit a lot of good irons. The course was in perfect condition.”
Mellet took a 1-up lead with a birdie on the fourth hole, and after Breen won with a par on the fifth hole, Mellet recaptured the lead with a birdie on the sixth hole.
Breen evened the match with a birdie on the eighth hole. Both players birdied the ninth hole.
Breen, 41, went back on top with a birdie on the 10th hole, but Mellet rolled in a three-foot birdie on the 12th hole to even the score once again.
Breen’s 16-foot birdie won the 14th hole, but Mellet returned the favor with his near ace on No. 15 to even the match once again. They stayed even until the final hole.
“Playing my boss was a little difficult,” said Breen, who won the Match Play crown in 2006.
“He’s one of the best players in our section, and he’s won just about everything. He knows my game, and I knew his. We both made our share of birdies out there. I’m a quiet guy, and so is Frank, so there wasn’t a lot of talking out there. But in the back of my mind, I was thinking that Frank was going to make that last putt. I just knew it. We both played well.”
All four semifinalists had won the Match Play title before. Mellet beat reigning NENYPGA Player of the Year Scott Berliner of Cobleskill Golf & Country Club in one semi, while Breen got past Mill Road Acres head pro Peter Gerard, a four-time NENYPGA Player of the Year, in the other.