The first time turned out to be the magic charm for Brian Simpson. This was the 29th annual Washington Metropolitan Golf Association's Mid-Amateur championship at Argyle Country Club and it took 41 holes, but the Manor CC member, who lives in Olney, managed to make his debut in the tournament a winning one.
During the course of the regulation 36-hole event, Simpson had two eagles in one round (a morning 65) and Ryan McCarthy had four birdies in a row and six overall in one round (an afternoon 65), but at the end of regulation each had a total of 137 for the par-70, 6,411-yard course.
Where sub-par numbers had been the order of the day to that point, they went out and tied the first four playoff holes (Nos. 1-2-9-1) in 1 over par. It took a wayward tee shot by McCarthy at the 449-yard up-and-down second hole to open a door for Simpson.
McCarthy, a member at Argyle, had a second shot from the right rough blocked by trees and he could only pitch out to the fairway. Simpson also was in the right rough, but closer to the fairway and not quite so blocked. His second shot carried over trees to the far side of the green about 40 feet from the hole, while McCarthy was in the front fringe some 20 feet short of the hole in three. Simpson's first putt rolled five feet beyond the hole, while McCarthy's putt stopped beside the cup. Simpson wrapped it up with a putt for par and the championship.
The title was another step in what the winner, a 30-year-old CPA, called "definitely my best year." Earlier this month, he had been part of a winning team with Brent Davis in the Belle Haven Four-Ball Tournament.
In the morning at Argyle, he started at No. 10, birdied No. 11, eagled 12 (532 yards) with a 6-iron shot to 20 feet and by the time he reached the eighth tee he had added two birdies, two bogeys. At the 374-yard test, he hit a wedge shot from 118 yard for a second eagle. The afternoon tour featured book-end birdies to go with three successive mid-round bogeys.
McCarthy, 25 and also a accountant, started at No. 10 in the afternoon and promptly birdied four of his first five holes, including one on a 25-foot putt at No. 13, and a 20-footer at No. 1 for one of his two front-nine sub-par efforts. He gave one back with a bogey at No. 8 (his 17th hole). His morning 72 had left him seven shots behind the early co-leaders Simpson and two-time champion Scott Shingler. McCarthy was a second place finisher in the 2011 Middle Atlantic Amateur at Baltimore Country Club and had a strong college career at Loyola Maryland.
Shingler, who won in 2008 and 2011 and was the only former winner in the 72-player field, had six birdies, one bogey, and finished with 25 putts, ranging in length from "close" to 30 feet. Shingler is also a past Middle Atlantic Amateur champion at Caves Valley in 1997. "My putting has been solid, but I've been struggling with the driver," the Haymarket (Va.) resident declared. "I hit about half the fairways." Afternoon woes pushed him to 75 and his 140 left him in fourth place. In between was Joe Rice, from Dunkirk, who used an afternoon 67 (six birdies, three bogeys)as a springboard to 139.
Mike Stackus, from Elkridge, had the only other sub-par round, a 69 in the morning and he ended fifth at 142. There was a tie for sixth at 142 among 2014 finalist Scott Ehrlich, from Bethesda (71-71); Tom Wharton, from Washington (72-70), and Joe Scheffres, from Rockville (72-70 and his total was the same as last year when he was one stroke out of a playoff with 73-69).
Play was on a bright, breezy day with the temperature in the mid-80's.
- Story courtesy Washington Metropolitan G.A.
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