ST. LOUIS, MO (September 22, 2016) -- The U.S. Senior Amateur final was a match full of runs, and in the end Dave Ryan had the last and decisive run. In a match that saw a little bit of everything, Ryan the 29-seed was able to survive 2 up against No. 14 Matthew Sughrue at Old Warson Country Club.
“I'm still in shock, a state of shock,” Ryan said. “For a guy from Taylorville, IL, to win a national championship, it's unbelievable.”
Sughrue, from Arlington, VA won the first hole of the day only to watch Ryan respond with five consecutive wins to grab a 4 up lead. During the stretch Ryan played 4-under golf with birdies on every hole except the 3rd. Thanks to a hot putter Ryan rolled in three sizable putts, with the longest coming on the 5th in the form of a 20-footer.
“My son gave me a video to watch from Dave Stockton, who is a great putter,” said Ryan of his putting success. “I took some of his tips and it's like shooting free throws, you just get over it, see the line, and let it go. And it worked this week. And it worked last week when I played in the state Senior Amateur in Illinois.”
Four halves followed and with Ryan remaining 4 up with eight holes left it seemed like the outcome was already known. Except there was one problem, nobody relayed that message to Sughrue.
On No. 11 Sughrue won his first hole since the first to move within 3 down. Feeling a swing in momentum, Sughrue claimed the 12th with a conceded birdie after almost holing a flop shot and then the 13th hole with another birdie to trim the deficit to 1 down. A halve followed on the 14th, but on the ensuing hole Sughrue completed his comeback as he tied the match with three holes remaining.
“It's disappointing. I felt like I had enough game to come back and win and it just didn't fall my way,” said Sughrue. “He's a great player and he put on a great exhibition today. But, I'll take solace in knowing that I probably shook him up a little bit with some of the shots that I had and made it a match. I'll take that as a good indication of where my game is in senior amateur golf.”
Unfazed, Ryan a three-time Illinois State Amateur winner, regained his lead on the 16th. The 17th was halved meaning the match was dormie heading to No. 18 where Ryan punctuated his victory with a closing hole winning par.
With the win Ryan receives a 10-year-exemption into the U.S. Senior Amateur. He also is exempt for the next two U.S. Amateurs and Mid-Amateurs, plus the 2017 U.S. Senior Open and U.S Open sectional qualifying.
By finishing in second place Sughrue is exempt to the next three U.S. Senior Amateurs and the 2017 U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur.
-The USGA contributed to this story