ELMSFORD, N.Y. (APRIL 29, 2013) – It took the Metropolitan Golf Association 21 years and six attempts but history was finally made on Monday as the MGA team claimed victory on Irish soil for the first time in Governor Hugh L. Carey Challenge Cup history.
Playing in the penultimate singles match, Max Buckley of Westchester mounted a remarkable comeback and won three of his final four holes, including a par on the 18th, to defeat Alex Gleeson 1-up and guarantee the MGA would carry the coveted Cup back to America for at least another two years. Shortly after Buckley’s heroics, two-time reigning MGA Player of the Year Mike Miller of Knollwood drilled an 18-footer for par to halve his match against Eddie McCormack and earn a half point, clinching a 6.5 – 5.5 triumph for the MGA over the Golfing Union of Ireland at The European Club in Wicklow, Ireland. It’s the second consecutive victory for the MGA and third-ever in the biennial event’s 11-match history.
“This is awesome!” an ecstatic Miller said afterward. “We came to the best links course in Ireland and won. It was tough and very difficult with the wind but the group of guys that came over proved we could handle it. We were very fortunate to come out on top.”
Miller never led in his match, quickly falling three down after eight holes. But he fought back to be trailing only one heading into the par-4 18th, where he drained his dramatic putt from just off the green.
Also coming through in a pivotal moment was Buckley, who found himself two down with four holes to play but managed to win holes 14 and 16 before parring the last to notch a full point the MGA desperately needed to secure at least a tie.
“It’s a great win, we just happened to get an extra point today, but it could have gone either way,” said MGA President and team captain Jeff Holzschuh. “We wanted both Max and Mike, who really had performed quite well yesterday, to be the last two in the lineup. The whole team played really well as it turned out.”
Captains from both sides look on during Monday's action (Photo/Pat Cashman)With the score even at 3 – 3 after Sunday’s foursome and fourball matches, Jim Liu of Stonebridge Golf Links stirred momentum for the MGA when he defeated Brian Casey 2 and 1 in the opening match. But the GUI quickly leveled the score at 4 aside when Simon Ward (who tallied 2.5 points, the most of any player on either side) beat Brian Komline of Black Oak 3 and 2.
Cameron Young of Sleepy Hollow, the youngest player of the matches at 15-years-old, again gave the MGA the upper hand when he defeated Nicky Grant 3 and 2. Young, Liu and Buckley each notched two total points to lead the MGA.
Nine-time MGA International Match competitor Joe Saladino of Huntington clawed back from four down to one down entering the final hole, but an unplayable lie off the tee gave Geoff Lenehan the 1-up victory.
That’s when Buckley and Miller worked their late-day magic to ensure the second consecutive victory for the MGA, the last taking place at Bethpage Black in 2011.
Recognized as a “true links” by the Links Association, The European Club provided a brilliant test of golf for both teams. Designed by Pat Ruddy, the course is ranked among the Top 100 Courses in the World by Golf Magazine.
The Carey Cup Match will return to American soil in 2015 and will be held at Metedeconk National Golf Club in Jackson, N.J.