RUMSON, N.J. (August 12, 2011) – Two of the top 15-year-olds in the Met Area staged a close and exciting final match at the 43rd MGA/MetLife Boys Championship, with Theo Humphrey of Greenwich, Conn., emerging as a 2 & 1 winner over Christopher Gabriele of Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. On a picture-perfect day at Rumson Country Club, neither competitor held more than a 1-up lead until the very end as both players showed the games that had allowed them to reach the finals of this two-day, match play championship.
Humphrey, who led after the first round of the Carter Cup at Baltusrol on August 3 following a round of 69 on the Upper Course, was pleased that he played well enough down the stretch to win his first MGA title.
“I scored and managed my game well today,” said Humphrey, who will be a sophomore at Rye Country Day School in Rye, N.Y. “I hit some loose shots but I was able to recover, and I didn’t make too many bogeys.”
Humphrey actually got off to a rocky start. Although he won the second hole with a par, he then lost the fourth and fifth holes to go 1-down. He squared the match with a birdie on the eighth hole in which he took a bit of a risk.
“In match play you can usually take more chances,” explained Humphrey, “and on the eighth I had a small window between two branches and I hit a perfect 8-iron that ended up three feet away for birdie. That really turned the match around for me.”
After taking a 1-up lead on the ninth hole following a bogey by Gabriele, Humphrey arrived at the short par-four 10th hole and displayed the power that allowed him to score on the fast, firm, par-71 layout at Rumson. His drive on the 350-yard hole rolled up to the greenChris Gabriele birdied the par-three 14th hole. (Photo by Joe Valentine)side rough, and though he ended up halving the hole with par, he seemed to get a jump in his step and stay sharp for the remainder of the match.
Gabriele, who will be a sophomore at Cold Spring Harbor High School on Long Island, would not bow down, however. After the players halved holes 11 through 13, the youngster rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-three 14th hole to square the match with four holes to play.
The par-four 15th hole at Rumson is a fairly straight par four that is notable for its difficult, sloping green. Gabriele fell victim to it, taking three putts from the front-left fringe to make bogey and fall back in a 1-down hole to Humphrey. The two then hit their approaches to within five feet on the par-four 16th hole and conceded birdies, preserving Humphrey’s 1-up edge.
The match came to an end on the 17th green when Gabriele, who pushed his tee shot to the right rough, came up short on his flop shot and made a bogey, while Humphrey lagged his birdie effort to three feet for a conceded par.
“Short putts were the difference for me today,” lamented Gabriele. “I missed a short one for par on the first hole that would have given me a 1-up edge. But still, I take something positive out of making it to the final.”
By virtue of making the finals of the MGA/MetLife Boys Championship, Humphrey and Gabriele are exempt into the 2012 Met Junior Championship at Nissequogue Golf Club on Long Island, as well as the 2012 Carter Cup at Baltusrol.
Rumson was hosting the MGA/MetLife Boys Championship for a record 10th time. Next year, the championship returns to Gardiner’s Bay Country Club on Shelter Island, N.Y..
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