Young Guys had been back-to-back winners in 2016 and 2017
By Pat Payton
It appears that the 2018 Ryder Cup competition at St. Marys Golf and Country Club came down to Saturday afternoon’s Modified Alternate shots.
The Old Guys won the format six points to two to extend their lead to five points over the Young Guys (10 and a half to five and a half) going into Sunday morning’s singles matches.
The Old Guys won nine of the 16 singles matches on Sunday, but the damage had been done the previous afternoon. The Old Guys needed just six wins on the final day to reclaim the Cup from the Young Guys who had held it for two years (2016 and 2017).
The 2018 final tally read: Old Guys 19.5 points; Young Guys 12.5 points.
The two 16-man squads started the popular competition Saturday morning. The Old Guys won the Best Ball event by a slim margin of four and a half points to three and a half points. Old Guys’ captain Rich Parsons pointed to the Alternate shots in the afternoon as the difference.
“It was huge, absolutely,” Parsons told the Independent. “The Young Guys were leading early in those matches, but our Old Guys came back. They keep it in the fairway and they keep it in play, and they started winning a lot of those holes on the back nine. I think that’s what it came down to, those Alternate shots.”
Kept pairings together
As captain, Parsons said a simple game plan was to keep pairings together for the doubles matches.
“Whoever played together in the morning (Saturday) stayed together in the afternoon,” he explained. “They’re comfortable with each other and that’s a big thing. Other years, we haven’t always done that. You need that camaraderie.
“For the majority of our matches, we kept the same guys together. Even keep the same guys together in the (golf) cart for the singles matches. There’s a comfort feeling there.”
Parsons also tipped his hat to the Young Guys team.
“These young kids can play,” he said. “These kids are so much fun to play against. They’re just good kids.”
Young Guys’ captain Jason Skipper agreed that the second round proved to be a key factor.
“The Alternate shots got away from us a little bit, but the matches were close,” he said. “The pairings came out really good I thought, but the singles matches I would have liked to re-do and get some different match-ups.”
Was Skipper confident the Young Guys could win for a third straight year, he was asked.
“I’m a competitor, and I had confidence in the team,” he replied. “We weren’t playing particularly well coming in, and there was a lot of new blood. But I was still confident that the new guys would play well and a lot of them did.
“The Alternate shots were the only difference. It was a close weekend. It came down to the Old Guys beating us on No. 17 and 18 in those doubles matches Saturday.”
The 2018 Young Guys squad featured six Ryder Cup rookies (Scott Kemp, Stefan MacNeil, Chris Bond, Mitch Watt, Chris Hayes and Cody Oakes). “It keeps the competition fresh,” Skipper noted.
Winning singles matches for the Old Guys Sunday were: Brian Hughes, Rick Fifield, Chico Downing, Len Foran, Eric Dunn, Marty Rutledge, Jamie Hodgins, Neil Dust and Troy Carter.
Winning singles matches for the Young Guys were: Jeremy Foran, Chris Bond, Stew Grant, Paul Shackleton, Ben Dale, Scott Kemp and Jason Skipper.
Ryder Cup notebook:
–This year’s MVP was Neil Dust of the Old Guys. He was the first recipient of ‘The Sterky’, a bobblehead.
–A family affair. Rick Fifield, Len Foran and Brian Hughes played for the Old Guys, and their sons Kellen, Jeremy and Peter played for the Young Guys.
–Three players went 3-0-0 (Chico Downing, Len Foran, Jamie Hodgins). Three players went 2-0-1 (Neil Dust, Marty Rutledge, Stewart Grant).
–Over the last five years, the Old Guys have won the Cup three times, but the Young Guys have won 80.5 points versus the Old Guys winning 78.5.
–Since 2004, the Old Guys have out-scored the Young Guys by the narrowest of margins, 224-223.
–The average age of the Old Guys was reported to be 61.5, with an age range of 45 years old (Troy Carter) to 67 years old (Greg Thompson). The average age of the Young Guys was 30.0, with an age range of 17 years old (Mitch Watt) to 44 (Stewart Grant).
–Ryder Cup veteran Rich Parsons was a winning captain for a second time in the Ryder Cup competition.
–Next year’s captains will be Troy Carter (Old Guys) and Jon McPhail (Young Guys).