By Mike Dougherty
GREENWICH, CONN. – When six of the best players in the area qualified for this week’s U.S. Amateur, team captain Mike Reardon had to make a few extra phone calls in order to fill out the Westchester Golf Association’s roster for the Stoddard Trophy Matches.
The mix-and-match squad nearly pulled off an upset.
Pat Wilson, the reigning Met Am champion, led the New Jersey State Golf Association to a win in the annual team event that dates back to 1922. After the morning foursomes, the Garden State’s best were up four points. They withstood a WGA rally in the singles matches and won the sizeable trophy with a total of 20.5 points.
Westchester came in second with 19 points, and the Long Island Golf Association was a distant third with 14.5 points.
“It shows that we have great depth here,” said Max Buckley, a Westchester C.C. member who secured two points in singles. “There are so many good players in the area. Some of the top Westchester guys were competing this week at the U.S. Amateur, but we can still put out players who are capable of impacting these matches.”
There were plenty of anxious golfers watching the scoreboard as the sun began to set.
Colin McDade, who’s had quite the summer winning the WGA’s Amateur and Open titles, was first in for the home team after posting a pair of 6-and-5 wins.
“It’s a lot of fun playing an event like this,” said the Winged Foot member who’s heading back to Richmond in a few days. “It’s not something you get a chance to do very often. There are some good players here so bragging rights are on the line. I like the match play, and I definitely have a lot of confidence after winning five matches in the Westchester Am, and then winning two more here. I guess it suits me.”
Jonathan Renza, a Rutgers senior who’s a member at Hollowbrook, rolled in clutch birdies at the 17th and 18th holes to collect two more points and give the WGA hope.
“I like being in the moment,” he said. “It’s been a while for me. The matches are fun, but it does get competitive at crunch time. Dan (Abbondandolo) and I were going at it the last few holes. It was fun, but every shot was serious.”
Dan O’Callaghan of Bedford Golf and Tennis, Bob Stelben of the Country Club of Darien and Jeff Holzschuh of Stanwich also fueled the WGA comeback by sweeping their singles matches.