Closest competition in 13 years at St. Marys G&CC on the weekend
By Stewart Grant
It was the closest Ryder Cup in 13 years!
The annual inter-club golf challenge between the Young and Old Guys at St. Marys Golf and Country Club took place this past weekend.
Inspired by the famous Ryder Cup played between the United States and Europe, the St. Marys event features three types of matches. Saturday play is 36 holes, with a ‘Better Ball’ doubles format in the morning, and Modified Chapman ‘Alternate Shot’ matches in the afternoon. The event concludes on Sunday with singles matches, involving all 32 players (16 from each team).
Battles of past years are often recalled in this event which dates back to 1994. Therefore, as both teams studied the tight leaderboard late on Sunday, many of the long-time Ryder Cup players reflected on the epic finish in 2006. In that year, Dave Shepley, who was playing in the final group in front of a large gallery, drained a 15-foot birdie putt to steal victory from the Old Guys and retain the Cup for the Young Guns.
However, in 2019, it was the Old Guys who would win the close set of matches.
The Young squad, captained by Jon McPhail, stormed out to an early 5.5-to-2.5 points lead in the opening Better Ball matches. The Better Ball format tends to favour the long-hitting flat-bellies who often make birdies in bunches.
Captain Troy Carter hoped the experience of the wily Old Guys would fuel a comeback, and the lead was cut to 9-7 following play on Saturday, thanks to a 4.5-to-3.5 edge in the Chapman Alternate format. Carter and his partner Dale Levy led by example–posting a convincing win in their match.
As defending champions, the Old Guys needed to win nine of the 16 singles matches on Sunday to retain the Cup. Ultimately, they got exactly the nine wins that they needed, plus a tie in another match, to edge the Young Guns 16.5 to 15.5 in the 2019 Ryder Cup.
Winning matches for the Old Guys on Sunday, in chronological order, were: Stewart Grant, Neil Dust, Marty Rutledge, Bob Hearn, Chico Downing, Rich Parsons, Wayne Ross, Rick Fifield and Eric Dunn. Earning singles victories for the Young Guns were: Ben Dale, Greg Wolfkamp, Paul Shackleton, Scott Kemp, Cody Oakes and Brady St. Louis.
“We mixed things up a little bit (in the Chapman) and put some different pairings out there, and we continued that momentum into the singles matches,” captain Carter noted.
Captain McPhail was pleased with his team’s performance, and also graciously tipped his hat to the Old Guys.
“We needed seven and a half points (in the singles matches) to win the Cup,” McPhail said. “I think all of our guys played really hard, but the Old Guys made a few more putts than we did. It was a one-point Ryder Cup, and every (singles) match was back and forth all day.
“We played really hard, but it just didn’t go our way this year. The Old Guys are tough to beat in singles,” he added.
Ryder Cup notebook:
–This year, four players had perfect 3-0 records: Rich Parsons and Chico Downing of the Old Guys, and Ben Dale and Cody Oakes of the Young Guys. Downing was awarded MVP of this year’s event. MVP consideration was also given to Bob Hearn, who filled in superbly on short notice for Merlin Malinowski, who tweaked his back on the No. 8 hole Saturday morning.
–Neil Dust closed out his Sunday singles match in spectacular fashion, holing out his birdie chip from behind the par-3 No. 7 green.
–Huge credit goes to Sandy Fifield and her maintenance team for getting the golf course in great shape despite the recent flooding. Holes 4 through 6 remained closed due to the wet conditions, so the routing was modified to accommodate 18-hole matches. The back nine was played first, then holes 7 through 9 (white tees), then holes 1 through 3, then finishing back on holes 7 through 9 (blue tees).
–Next year’s Ryder Cup captains will be Rick Fifield (Old Guys) and Paul Shackleton (Young Guys).