By Mike Dougherty
PURCHASE — An uncooperative driver kept getting Colin McDade ankle deep in trouble, but the 20-year-old from Winged Foot made a couple of great escapes to close out a tight match.
Now he’s in uncharted territory.
McDade extended his lead with a couple of mighty hacks from thriving rough on the 13th and 14th holes at Brae Burn Country Club on Tuesday, and eventually posted a 3-and-2 win over Rye freshman James McHugh in a semifinal match at the Westchester Golf Association’s 94th Amateur Championship.
He will face John Moore on Wednesday in a 36-hole final.
“Those shots were amazing,” said McHugh, a 14-year-old who plays out of Rye Golf Club. “I hit the ball in the fairway and was thinking I had the upper hand.”
McDade was 30 yards away from the short grass on the 13th and somehow got the ball to stop inside 15 feet. He two-putted for par. He was back in the long grass on the 14th and nearly holed the approach, leaving a short birdie putt.
“I didn’t really drive the ball well all day,” said McDade, who needed 20 holes in the morning to dispatch Kamaiu Johnson of Sterling Farms. “James was pretty steady, but I managed to hit a few shots out of the rough that sealed the match for me. It was pretty thick. We’ve had a lot of rain so the rough out there is lush.”
McDade, who plays at the University of Richmond, will be going for his first major title.
“I’ve played a lot of these tournaments, so nerves aren’t really a big factor,” he said. “There was a little something there during the last few holes, though.”
McHugh beat Andre Bolukbas of Mansion Ridge before lunch to advance.
“I was having a lot of trouble hitting my irons,” said McHugh about his semifinal round. “I didn’t give myself very many opportunities to get back in the match. My short game was good, though, and that kept me from falling out early.”
Moore defeated Patrick Pierson of Minisceongo 3 and 2 to set up a rematch with McDade, who beat the 46-year-old Pelham member in the first round of this event a year ago.
“Coming in I was trying to stay focused on the next shot,” said Moore, who beat Paul Chianese of Leewood 2 and 1 in the quarterfinals. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the hunt, so I was starting to think a little about having the lead and trying to protect, but it went well.”
Moore was hearing a gravely voice all the way around.
“I’ve got to give a shout out to (Pelham head pro) Mike Diffley,” Moore said. “He’s been working a lot with me since I decided to get back into competitive golf two years ago, and it was like he was on my shoulder all day.”
Pierson beat Jack Bender of Ardsley 5 and 4 in the morning.
In the senior division, Jim Graham (Winged Foot) beat Billy Hackett (Siwanoy) 3 and 2, and Peter Rymer (Minisceongo) ousted Steve Joyce (Westchester) 6 and 5 to make the final. In the super senior division, Hugh Shevlin (Scarsdale) defeated Ronald Bayer (Powelton) 2-up, and Frank Ciulla (Wykagyl) ousted Lukas Konandreas (Sterling Farms) 2 and 1 to make the final.