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Michael Hyland captures Philadelphia Mid-Amateur
Mike Hyland is a winner once again <br>(GAP Photo)
Mike Hyland is a winner once again
(GAP Photo)

HAVERTOWN, PA (May 24, 2018) -Michael Hyland is a champion golfer once again.

Competing in the Mid.-Am. on a special exemption necessitated after missing the last two years of GAP tournaments with back issues, a steady Hyland outlasted a talented field en route to the Association’s first Major title of the year.

Hyland carded a 73 (2 over) in Thursday’s second and final round to finish the 35th Middle-Amateur Championship presented by Callaway Golf at Llanerch Country Club (par 71, 6,780 yards) in 1 over for the 36 holes. Michael McDermott of Merion Golf Club, a four-time Mid.-Am. champion who grew up at Llanerch, finished in second at 4 over. McDermott posted a second-round score of even-par 71. Matt Finger of DuPont Country Club and Eddie Johnson of Llanerch tied for third at 6 over for the two days.

Defending champion Ben Feld of Huntingdon Valley Country Club recorded a second-round 78. He finished in a tie for 22nd at 11-over par.

“I’m speechless. It’s one that I’ve been searching for a long time,” said Hyland, of Little Mill Country Club, who entered the day as a co-leader after a 1-under 70 yesterday. “Ever since I won the New Jersey Mid.-Am. a few years ago, I had the New Jersey Amateur, New Jersey Mid. and Philly Am [titles]. I’ve been missing this one. To complete that here at Llanerch Country Club is extremely special. It’s a place I fell in love with a long time ago and I’ve always loved it.”

To provide some factual context to Hyland’s previous statement, he won the BMW Philadelphia Amateur twice, in 2000 and 2011. His New Jersey State Golf Association victories came in 2015 at the Mid-Amateur and in 1998 at the Amateur.

Thursday, that Championship mettle Hyland displayed in his previous conquests shined bright, especially down the stretch.

Playing in the final group of the day, he sealed the victory with a spectacular pitching wedge on No. 17 (par 3, 148 yards) that kicked off the left bank next to the green and stopped six feet from the cup. He drained the birdie putt to move three shots clear of the field with one hole remaining.

On the three holes prior, holes his foes struggled to navigate, Hyland registered three solid pars. McDermott and Johnson failed to gain any ground during the stretch, and Finger, who was tied with Hyland, dropped three shots.

“Obviously I’m pleased I came back [after an opening-round 75]. It wasn’t quite enough,” said McDermott, 43, of Bryn Mawr, Pa. “Kudos to Mike for getting it done down the end.

“My thought coming into the day was if I could shoot 1 under on the front, the back nine could give you some birdies. [I was thinking] maybe 3 under on the back. That would give me a 67 and that might be the right number. I shot my 1 under on the front but on the back [nine] I made some hard to describe mistakes. It set me back to a place where I needed a bit of a miracle coming in.”

McDermott cited Nos. 10 (par 4, 446 yards) and 11 (par 4, 457 yards) as the difference makers.

On No. 10, his lob wedge from 90 yards just missed its mark and rolled back down the front hill guarding the green resulting in a bogey. On No. 11, McDermott knocked a 7-iron from 190 yards to 20 feet of the cup but three putted.

Ironically, it was No. 10 that exercised some Hyland early game jitters. His wedge approach bounced off a sprinkler long and left over the green, which slopes severely back to front. The hole location was only a few yards onto the front portion. A bogey would be a great score from there. Anything less a miracle. He flopped his chip shot onto the green, watched it trickle ever so slowly toward the hole and converted the six-foot par try. Incredible.

“The first couple of holes I was nervous. I’ll admit it. I couldn’t get the ball in the hole,” said Hyland, 39, of Medford, N.J. “It was tough to get a yardage with my range finder. I was shaking so much.”

Those nerves and emotions resulted in bogeys on Nos. 1 (par 4, 403 yards), 5 (par 5, 552 yards) and 7 (par 4, 391 yards).

He finished even par on his final nine.

Back issues, a job change and family – he has two young children – Logan and Mackenzie – leave the immediate future in question.

Though he did mention trying to conquer the Patterson Cup for a first time after some near misses.

On this day, the affable Hyland couldn’t help but wonder what just happened.

“I never dreamed I’d be back in this position,” he said with a crackling voice. “I’ve literally given up on competitive golf.”

NOTES: Co-first-round leader Tom Grady of Radley Run Country Club posted a second-round 81 to finish in a tie for 12th place … The 2019 Middle-Amateur Championship is tentatively set for May 22-23 at Rolling Green Golf Club.

ABOUT THE Philadelphia Mid-Amateur

Format: Thirty-Six hole individual gross stroke play, two day event. With a cut after the first day to the low 70 and ties.

Eligibility: Open to Member Club golfers who are 25 years of age and over with a USGA Handicap. Nonexempt players must prequalify. Index of 7.0 or lower.

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