By Mike Dougherty
Deepdale’s longtime director of golf, Darrell Kestner, limited the words of wisdom to Polland heading into the final rounds of the Metropolitan Professional Championship.
“He just told me to go win it,” said Polland, a 23-year-old who’s been on staff at the Long Island club for the last three seasons.
That’s exactly what the Minnesota native did Wednesday, shooting a final-round 68 at Brae Burn Country Club to edge Colin Amaral by a stroke with an 8-under total of 208. It was a pretty big day for a player whose previous wins came in 18-hole assistants tournaments. They don’t hand out $8,000 checks to the victor in those events.
“It’s awesome to win here,” Polland said. “There are so many great players in this section and you really have to play well. … My goal has always been to play in the PGA Championship and this is the first step.”
There were 11 spots in next year’s PGA Professional National Championship on the line.
Charlie Meola of Saxon Woods closed with a 67 and climbed into third place at 210. Steve Scott of Paramount was next at 211. Greg Bisconti of St. Andrew’s, Rob Labritz of GlenArbor and Brian Gaffney of Quaker Ridge finished in a fifth-place tie at 212. Mark Brown of Tam O’Shanter got in at 213.
The last three spots were decided in a playoff.
Jim Farrell of The Creek, Dave Fusco of Patriot Hills and Corey Muller of the Country Club of Darien survived. They all posted 214s and finished in a ninth-place tie along with Frank Bensel of Century, who is the first alternate. Craig Thomas of Metropolis is the second alternate.
The PGA Professional National Championship is in June at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.
Amaral did not have any regrets after failing to hold off Polland down the stretch. He’s been struggling to make putts for the last couple of years, so this was a good week overall. The only regrettable mistake was miscalculating the yardage on his approach into the 18th green that resulted in a bogey after Polland two-putted for par.
“I’ve been hitting the ball fine,” he said. “I just haven’t been making any putts. A lot of my close friends have been helping me with the mental aspects of putting, and I played aggressively all week, right down to the last shot. I’m not disappointed at all.”
Metropolitan Professional Championship
Final round at Brae Burn CC – Par 72
1 Ben Polland Deepdale 70-70-68–208 -8
2 Colin Amaral Metropolis CC 67-70-72–209 -7
3 Charlie Meola Saxon Woods GC 71-72-67–210 -6
4 Steve Scott Paramount CC 73-66-72–211 -5
T5 Greg Bisconti Saint Andrew’s GC 72-72-68–212 -4
T5 Rob Labritz GlenArbor GC 73-69-70–212 -4
T5 Brian Gaffney Quaker Ridge GC 70-71-71–212 -4
8 Mark Brown Tam O’Shanter Club 72-70-71–213 -3
T9 Jim Farrell The Creek Club 71-76-67–214 -2
T9 Dave Fusco Patriot Hills GC 69-74-71–214 -2
T9 Cory Muller CC of Darien 69-72-73–214 -2
Alternates – in order
T9 Frank Bensel Century CC 72-74-68–214 -2
T13 Craig Thomas Metropolis CC 72-70-73–215 -1
T13 Kevin Loftus Pine Hollow CC 69-73-73–215 -1
T13 Scott Ford North Hills CC 72-73-70–215 -1
T13 Jason Caron Siwanoy CC 74-69-72–215 -1
T13 Rob Corcoran Poxabogue 72-71-72–215 -1
T13 Paul Selvaggio Wykagyl CC 70-71-74–215 -1
T19 Paul Dickinson Atlantic 69-77-70–216 E
T19 Tom Sutter Golf Manhattan 72-72-72–216 E
T19 Charlie Bolling Unaffiliated 75-69-72–216 E
T22 Ben Hoffhine Wykagyl CC 71-73-73–217 +1
T22 Bob Rittberger Garden City GC 68-74-75–217 +1
T24 Kyle Higgins Inwood CC 70-75-73–218 +2
T24 Dylan Thew Deepdale 73-73-72–218 +2
T24 John Bushka Aspetuck Valley CC 70-74-74–218 +2
T24 Jim Lusk Seawane G & CC 69-75-74–218 +2
T24 Anthony Casalino Innis Arden GC 71-72-75–218 +2
T24 Tim Puetz Huntington CC 76-72-70–218 +2
T24 Pete Catanzaro Scarsdale GC 75-73-70–218 +2
T31 Ryan Kalista Tamarack CC 73-73-73–219 +3
T31 Mike Diffley Pelham CC 75-71-73–219 +3
T31 Shawn Baker Greens at Half Hollow 73-74-72–219 +3
T31 Tom Withee Hempstead GC 71-78-70–219 +3