CHEVY CHASE, MD (June 11, 2017) - Ben Warnquist won the first three holes of the morning round and was not headed, as he defeated Bart Mease, 6 and 5, for the 96th Amateur Championship of the Maryland State Golf Association at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, June 11. The final round matched Manor CC members and produced Warnquist’s second title in the last three years.
Once past the opening hole, the margin did not dip below two, as Warnquist padded his lead to 4-up after a 1-under-par 69 for the morning tour of a wonderfully conditioned 6,615-yard course that featured fast and firm greens.
“Those opening holes set the tone,” Mease declared. “I talked with my coach [PGA professional] Steve Bosdosh, last night and he said, ‘Don’t give it away.’ So what do I do? I go out there and give it away.”
The caliber of play (an eagle and seven birdies combined) was much better in the morning, as there was just one birdie between them in the afternoon. For the most part, errant swings, especially with the driver, held sway. Mease had the edge there, hitting seven of 10 fairways on the driving holes, while Warnquist reached just four.
“It’s so easy to make bogeys on this course,” Warnquist pointed out. “We both gave each other chances, but it was more of a grind just to make pars.” However, he had to be thrilled with the shot of the day, as he nearly holed a bunker shot at the 191-yard 13th hole and wound up with a winning par that sealed the verdict.
“I put myself in a bad spot there, but that green slopes down [back to front], so I aimed for a spot about 15 feet above the hole and used it as a backboard. The shot did not come off exactly as planned, but the ball rolled up to the spot, paused, then trickled down the slope, stopping six inches from the cup.”
Warnquist was complimentary of his opponent, saying that when he saw the bracket, he thought Mease had a good chance of doing well. “Actually, I was lucky to get past the second round with Bennett Buch (22 holes) and I’m more surprised I made it this far. And with Bart, nothing surprises me.
To which Mease, 40, who works in software sales, said in summation, “The best man won.”
Saturday Match Play – Quarterfinals and Semifinals
For the first time since 1971 and the fourth time overall in the 96-year history of the Maryland State Golf Association’s Amateur championship, two members from the same club will play a scheduled 36-hole match for the title, June 11, at Columbia Country Club.
This was assured on June 10, when Manor CC members Ben Warnquist and Bart Mease each won two matches for the second day in a row, as the 32-man draw was reduced to just these two. After the qualifying round June 8, it seemed a most unlikely final. Certainly Warnquist, 24, the medalist (5-under 65) and 2015 champion was a logical pick, but Mease, 40, working his way back into competitive golf after an extended absence, had recorded 35-39–74, good for No. 29 in the draw.
Yet here they are, best friends poised to put that aside in favor of their best shot at a coveted crown. “We’ve played a ton of golf together so it should be fun,” Warnquist said, noting the attraction should attract a sizeable gathering of friends and Manor members. Mease knows he’ll need blinders to avoid the same obstacle — a small group of followers — that presented a distraction during Saturday’s play.
The last “member” final saw Dave King defeat Mike Nesbitt in an all-Bethesda CC match, for which Columbia CC was also the host. Among the earlier ones, there is irony in the 1962 pairing when Ralph Bogart defeated Bobby Brownell, a Chevy Chase clubmate and his insurance partner. Warnquist is currently employed by their successors, who retained the company name. As he said, “Seeing their names on the trophy inspires me.” Bogart won a record 10 titles and Brownell, one.
As might have been expected, Warnquist had the easier task in reaching the final. He beat Columbia member Colin St. Maxens in the morning, 5 and 3, and Ben Shields, from Pine Ridge GC, in the afternoon, 3 and 2. Shields, a No. 3 seed, who had crushed Wake Forest junior Lee Detmer, from Chevy Chase, in the quarters, 6 and 5. Mease went 18 holes twice, stopping Nick Barrett, Turf Valley CC, and defending champion Ty Herriott, Old South CC.
Against Shields, they halved the first four holes, but after Warnquist’s eagle-3 was conceded at the 535-yard fifth, he was not headed the rest of the way. He won 11 with a par, 12 with a birdie and ran in an 18-foot birdie putt at the 15th to go dormie. “I hit it very well against tough opponents,” the wiry, 6-foot-3 Warnquist said. “I’ve played the back nine especially well all week, so when I get there I have more confidence. I just need to play the middle holes better and eliminate the errors. Of his morning loss, St. Maxens shook his head over several early mistakes that enabled Warnquist to get ahead.
Shields won four holes with pars and one with a birdie in jumping to a 5-up lead on Detmer through nine holes to essentially end it.
In what had been a see-saw match with Herriott, Mease got the upper hand with a par at the 16th, then won the 17th with a bogey, as Herriott drove into some trees and could not recover. At the 18th, Mease won with a conceded birdie after Herriott three-putted . Mease said, “My best swing of the day was an 8-iron shot to four feet at 18. I was a little more comfortable today. . .and I stayed patient. Ty’s really good,” so it was a good experience. “I’m getting more comfortable every round. I’m learning the greens because they are so fast.”
Earlier, against Nick Barrett, 24, a Carroll County Community College student who works at Turf Valley, Mease went 2 up for the first time at 16 and they halved 17. Barrett had not been beyond the qualifying round in the past, and here, he said his driving was fine but his wedges were a problem as he could not keep the ball below the hole. That’s a necessity with the surfaces rolling 13 1/2 on the stimpmeter.
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