COHASSET, Mass. (May 11, 2011) -- The first year they shared the title, the second year they ran away with it and the third year they had to win it in a playoff.
The love affair between the team of Ryan Riley (Norton CC) and Herbie Aikens (Pinehills GC) and the Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship continued today as the dynamic duo made birdie on the first playoff hole to claim an unprecedented three titles in three years.
"This the sweetest victory I have ever had," said Riley, "I have been fortunate to win tournaments, but to beat the caliber of players in this field three years in a row is amazing. It hasn't been done because it's so hard to do. It is so emotionally and physically draining."
As a result of their performance, they also became only the second team in event history to capture three titles. Only Jon Fasick (New England CC) and Carter Fasick (Indian Meadows GC) have won more titles (4) since 1981.
In the end, Aikens drained a 10-foot birdie putt on the 347-yard, par 4 1st playoff hole to seal the victory over Alex Stimpson (Woods Hole GC) and James Kroeger (CC of New Bedford) and Cato Anderson (Concord CC), who was playing without partner Mike Dunham (Concord CC).
"That was exactly where we wanted to be," said Aikens of the playoff. "We felt behind heading into today and we came out hot and it was great. It feels good to win in a playoff. It is extra special because we had to win it in the clutch."
In order to get to that magical moment, however, the duo had to come up with a sensational round two after posting a 1-under par 69 on Tuesday which was five strokes off the pace.
And on the front nine, they did just that. With improving weather on their side (the sun made its first appearance during the afternoon hours), the duo came through with a front-nine performance to remember. After making par on the first two holes, Riley and Aikens played 6-under par golf through their next seven holes to make the turn at 6-under par 30. Included in that stretch was a string of three birdies through four holes and an eagle chip-in on the 405-yard, par 4 9th hole by Aikens. Riley added the team's first birdie of the day on the 430-yard, par 4 3rd hole.
"When Herbie chipped in there was a rush of adrenoline," said Riley. "We were thinking 'look at that front nine. People are going to see it and hear about it and know that we are in it and that we have a chance'."
Although they could not continue the magic during the back nine, they stepped onto the 18th green with a one stroke lead over the field but could not convert on their par putts to seal the victory through 36 holes. As a result, they forced a playoff showdown with Stimpson and Kroeger and Anderson.
"On the back nine, the wind picked up and it got colder," said Aikens. "Those are not easy holes in good conditions let alone what we were playing in. We were fighting for pars. And [Hole] 18 was a monster. Both of us missed putts but they were hard putts. People were saying that Ryan's was only three feet but we were all looking at it and didn't know which way it was going."
Stimpson and Kroeger played in the final group this afternoon and carded a 2-under par 68 for a two-round total of 6-under par 134. Catto, meanwhile, had to make the drive back to Cohasset from his home in Concord for the second time that day. Earlier that morning, Anderson and Dunham carded a 1-under par 69 for a two-day total of 6-under par 134. The one problem was that Dunham was on a plane flying out west for a work trip. That left Anderson alone to vie for the title against Aikens and Riley.
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