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Middle Atlantic (MAGA) Amateur Champioship

Reported from River Bend by John Stewart

GREAT FALLS, VA (October 2, 2005) -- As the years moved along, Richard Holland, the 1990 champion, could see his chances for a second MAGA Amateur championship slipping away. However, as it developed, he made the most of his latest opportunity.

Holland, a Columbia CC member from Bethesda, stared disaster in the face for a second straight day, but had enough left to hold off his closest challengers, two members from the host club, in the windup of the 99th event at River Bend Golf & CC, October 2.

The winner finished with a 4-over-par 74, but, after starting the round with a one-stroke lead, his 72-hole total of 291 (11 over par) was good enough to thwart Richard Southwick, 75-293, and Jason Pool, 76-294.

A back-nine 36, highlighted by a birdie at the 13th, won it for Holland, at 45 one of a series of winners in their 40's in recent years. Southwick and Pool started the round one shot behind; Pool tied Holland at the turn, with Southwick one back, and then Southwick closed with a 37 to 39 for Pool.

"I'm humbled," Holland said. "I never thought I'd have a chance to win [this title] again. Actually, the course won. It beat us to death." Among the 61 players making the cut (58 returned scores the last day), there were 17 80's in the third round and 16 in the closer.

When Holland started bogey-double bogey, par, bogey; Pool, with two early birdies, moved into the lead. The Dunn Loring resident led by three after three holes, by two after six, and was tied by Holland after nine. For that stretch, Pool had only one par.

For the second straight day, Holland had a shaky start, but as he declared, "I stayed calm after a bad start. Once past that, I felt more comfortable." Still, he called it, "a lot more emotional than the first one," when he won with 10 over par at Woodholme CC.

"I knew how I stood after nine, and I just tried to do the best I could on the back nine," Southwick, 37, from McLean, Va., said

Pool, 30, a qualifier for the recent U.S. Mid-Amateur championship, said, "I was surprised by the start [the three were in the last group], and I guess I wasn't mentally prepared for it. Overall, I've been struggling with the putter, and this time it let me down."

A three-hole stretch of bogeys on the front nine proved critical. The outcome, though, was still in doubt as late as the 16th green. Holland missed a short birdie putt and wound up making bogey. "I was shocked when he missed," Pool said. Pool had a makeable birdie putt, left it short and then missed his par, negating what might have been a one or two-shot swing.

Terry Reilly, of Lovettsville, Va., birdied three of the last six holes for the low round of 71-302, where he was later tied by Tyler McKeever, 71-295.

The River Bend golf course emerged from the event as an even more fully accredited first-rate championship test. The tight fairways, speedy and sloping greens as well as the Committee’s demanding, some said “fiendish,” set-up required the full focus of every player on every shot. Holland passed the examination most effectively with an unrelenting focus on the task at hand.

For complete results, click on the tournament link above (amateurgolf.com Premium membership requested).

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