Reported from Beechtree by John Stewart
ABERDEEN, MD (May 5, 2006) -- Earlier this week, Jeff McKnight and Tom Weingardner had qualified for the Maryland State Amateur and Open championships, and after several years of being close without winning the MSGA's Two-Man Team championship, figured this was the time to do something about it.
They played well and figured their 9-under-par 30-32--62 on May 4 at Beechtree Golf Club in Aberdeen should be good enough for the title. What they didn't figure was having to go overtime to get it. The Old South CC pairing discovered the tie at the scorer's table, as Tharen Rice-Michael Kelly, from Sparrows Point CC, had posted 33-29--62.
With long-hitting Rice unavailable for the playoff, Kelly drove into a hazard at the first extra hole, could only hack his ball out to the fairway, then reached the green in three and two-putted for a bogey-5 at the 434-yard hole. McKnight was on in two and two-putted from 30 feet to clinch the championship.
"I knew 67 had won it last year, so I figured 62 was a done-deal," McKnight said. He and Weingardner had previously won two Washington Metropolitan Two-Man titles, but this marked the first MSGA crown for each. Aside from this event, Weingardner had reached the MSGA Amateur final two years ago, and McKnight was an Amateur semifinalist several years ago.
Their regulation round over the 6,887-yard, par 36-35--71 layout included nine birdies, and McKnight got three of them with a finishing flourish at Nos. 7-8-9, starting with a 45-foot putt. Rice-Kelly also started at No. 10, reached all 18 greens in regulation and converted 10 birdies. The only flaw was a three-putt bogey at No. 6.
It was the second straight playoff in the tournament, as Kirk Lombardi-Mike Watson had edged Moose Brown-Larry Storck last year at Fountainhead CC in Hagerstown.
On a warm, sunny day, Little Bennett's Vance Welch-Michael Wah had seven birdies in shooting 33-31--64, but Welch cited pars at the two par-5's on the front side -- the 7th and 8th holes which yielded a couple of eagles and a slew of birdies during the day -- as the critical part of the round. Rick Sovero-Kevin Allis, Rolling Road GC, shot 33-31, as Sovero included two eagles and the pair combined for five birdies, but also had two bogeys.
Bernard Deane-Tony Wickless, VFW-Frederick; Tim Meinhardt-Steve Ford, Caves Valley; and Matt Tengwall-John Sovero, Prospect Bay, tied for fifth at 66, and five teams at 67 completed the prize list. Praise for the superb condition of the very popular Beechtree course was universal.
For complete results, click on the tournament link above.