Reported by John Stewart from The Elkridge Club
BALTIMORE, MD (June 12, 2006) -- A 5-under par 31 on the front nine of the afternoon round enabled Jeff Castle, from Turf Valley Country Club, to blow apart the 85th MSGA Amateur Championship at The Elkridge Club in Baltimore, June 11.
At the finish, Castle had a 7 & 6 win over Jarrod Page from Geneva Farm GC. While this was Castle's first appearance in the event, Page had reached the quarter-finals two years ago.
"For the first nine holes of the afternoon, I could do no wrong," said Castle, 22, a Towson University senior. Definitely. For the nine, he had an eagle and four birdies and jumped a three-up lead to seven up at the turn. Page, 20 and a Kent State junior, stemmed the flood with a winning birdie at the tenth, but Castle won the eleventh and they halved the twelfth. There Castle struck a superb 4-iron shot from the left rough. "In my first match, I hit it three feet and made birdie. This time, from the same spot, from 197 yards from the hole, I hit it eight feet."
Page had it 25 feet for birdie at the 440-yard hole, but the bid just missed, as his ball burned the edge of the cup as it slid by. Castle missed his first putt, but his second was good enough for a half and the match. Castle was largely unheralded as a Towson freshman, but for the last two years he had outstanding collegiate seasons. Two years ago, he was Colonial Athletic Association Co-Player-of-the Year [with Billy Wingerd, a former MSGA Amateur Champ] and this year he won the honor outright. He also was named Towson's Male Athlete of the Year.
Over this span, he learned to do a better job of eliminating his mistakes and his game became more polished. "Just playing college golf, you learn to play smarter," Castle said.
In that torrid afternoon stretch, the Howard County resident had winning birdies at the first, fifth, and eighth, with the eagle coming at the 480-yard, par 5, seventh.
At that hole, off the tee, "You have to aim at the right rough and turn if over," Castle said. "I had 205 in and just wanted to hit it in the middle of the green. I knew from watching putts earlier that if you aim at the right side, the ball will turn down to the hole. I hit it perfectly and it ended up eight feet."
When Page hit his second shot to the back collar, ran his putt way past the hole, and missed coming back, he conceded Castle his putt.
For the 30 holes, Castle had seven birdies to go with that eagle and two bogeys, and Page, six birdies, five bogeys, and two doubles. Only three down at the break, Page figured he was still in it, but Castle never gave him a chance. Page said, "It's tough to make birdies and get tied."
Castle said, "I felt really comfortable all week. I hit it well and didn't make a lot of bogeys."
Page, a Harford County resident, whose experience includes two US Juniors, hit is solidly for four rounds and was never behind in any match. The streak ended at 67 holes when Castle won three holes in a row (Nos. 3-4-5) with pars. It sent him two up, a lead he never relinquished.
The final became a struggle for Page when his driving and putting were not as solid as in earlier matches.
As for Castle, "I love match play." Off his showing in this tournment, it is easy to see why.
For complete results, click on the tournament link above.