by Chad Arsich, Local Amateur Golf
CRETE, Illinois (August 3, 2014) -- Two perfect days of golf at Balmoral Woods Country Club were on tap the first weekend of August for the Illinois Match Play Championship Presented by Bettinardi Golf.
After two matches on Saturday, the field was down to four semi-finalists; Chadd Slutzky v. Andy Mickelson and top-seeded Glenn Przybylski v. Graham O’Connor-Brooks.
A look at the semi-finalists’ resumes shows they were pretty warmed up heading into the weekend.
Chadd Slutzky took fourth place at the 2014 Illinois State Amateur qualified for the 2014 USGA Mid-Amateur Championship, which will be played in September at Saucon Valley CC in Pennsylvania.
Glenn Przybylski won the 2014 Illinois State Public Links was a U.S. Open local qualifier.
Andy Mickelson was 8th at the 2014 Illinois State Amateur. In 2012, he was a USGA State team member representing Illinois.
Graham O’Connor-Brooks played well at the 2014 Lake County Amateur, finishing T5.
Both Semi-Final matches were back and forth all morning long. Andy Mickelson defeated Chad Slutzky 2&1 and Glenn Przybylski edged Graham O’Connor-Brooks, 1-up.
The final match got off to a blazing hot start as Andy Mickelson, 33, birdied three of the first four holes. Przybylski said “not so fast” making birdies on two of his first four holes, but he still found himself 2-down with after bogeying the 2nd and 4th holes.
Przybylski, 47, battled back with a birdie on 5 and capitalized on a Mickelson bogey on No. 7 to square the match through 7 holes.
Once the match became even, both players did not gain more than a one hole advantage through 14 holes. Standing on the 15th tee, the match was even but again, that did not last very long with Przybylski hitting his drive in the right trees and having to punch out, leading to a bogey. Mickelson also found trouble at No. 15, hitting an errant iron shot from the middle of the fairway, putting him into a difficult spot left of the green. With Przybylski looking at a 20-footer for par, Mickelson was able to secure and up-and-down par to go 1-up with three holes to play.
The par-3 16th played 170 yards to a difficult green sloping back to front. Mickelson hit a great shot to 6 feet below the pin and Przybylski hit his ball in the front right fringe looking at a 40 foot right to left uphill putt. Przybylski hit his putt 6 feet short and missed the par putt Mickelson misses his birdie putt and taps in for his par keeping his 1up lead through 16.
Both players have wedges into the short 17th hole on their approach shots. With wedges in hand, both players hit good shots to approximately 10 feet each. Mickelson, first to putt, hit a firm putt that hit the back of the hole but lipped out the birdie try. Needing his birdie to get the match back to even, Przybylski drilled it home, putting some spring into his step heading to the 18th tee.
Stepping up to the last tee with the honor, Przybylski hit his drive down the right tree line. Mickelson hit a solid drive right down the middle. Przybylski – catching a good break finding his ball in the right rough with a clear shot to the green – hit his wedge to the back left of the green. Mickelson, with wedge from the fairway, hit the front left on the 18th green looking at a 40-foot uphill left-to-right putt. He left that long birdie try six feet short, while Przybylski, also with a tough putt, hit his downhill left-to-right putt a foot closer. Mickelson, putting for par, steps up and burns the right edge of the cup, opening the door for his opponent. Przybylski nailed his 5-footer to win, his putting session between matches paying off.