By Joseph Nieporte for AmateurGolf.com - see his special connection to Winged Foot below.
Champions Stewart Hagestad and Mike McBride
Senior Champs Chip Lutz and Chris Lange (AG photo)
After two days of laid back play, there was a different feeling in the atmosphere Saturday at Winged Foot.
And it wasn’t Hurricane Henri lurking in the Atlantic. Players were dialed in and focused on bringing home the Anderson Memorial Four-Ball trophy, as the hurricane revised the format to 54-holes of medal play.
With two teams tied at the top of the Mid-Am division at 13 under, the tournament came down to a three-hole playoff between the teams of Stewart Hagestad & Mike McBride and Bobby Wyatt & Lee Knox.
The first key playoff moment came when Stewart Hagestad had to drain a tricky 4-foot par save on the 10th after he and his partner Mike McBride both missed the green. On the 11th hole no one was able to put a shot close from the fairway. Three of the four had birdie chances from outside 30 feet and Wyatt missed the green short in the green side bunker. (Wyatt had no way of getting his bunker shot close which put the pressure on Knox to secure a lengthy two-putt.)
On the 18th hole Wyatt found the first cut, McBride missed right into deep rough and Hagestad and Knox were in the left rough. Hagestad took an aggressive play off the tee -- playing his drive up the 11th fairway of the East.
The play backfired.
Hagestad left himself completely blocked out, putting pressure on McBride. Neither he or his two opponents could find the putting surface, as Hagestad chipped out sideways. Knox and McBride went long over the green and Wyatt missed right. Both would have more than 20 feet for par, and when neither holed it was up to McBride.
As if pulling a page from the history books (key pars on No. 18 has often won U.S. Opens) he drained a 15 footer to win the tournament for his team. (And that wasn't his only great shot on the hole -- just getting to that spot required an amazing flop shot.)
For McBride, the win and the day were doubly special.
He and his wife were celebrating their 11th wedding anniversary this weekend. Rather than wait for the phone call at home, she surprised him by showing up at the tournament.
Over 100 members filled the tee box and back of the club house as they started and finished the playoff. The theme of the whole week was "this is the best event of the year" because as a player you are made to feel like a member. Besides the golf everyone here is so nice and inviting -- Winged Foot members love to host tournament golf.
Chip Lutz and Chris Lange entered the final round with a three shot lead and kept that margin intact, over Jeff Knox and Peter Persons plus Jack Larkin and Michael Brown. They are now two-time winners of The Anderson.
“The members encourage events like this and they get excited, Winged Foot was built to host Championship golf” - Steve Close (WF member and MGA staff)
“Best test of golf, all the pins were in challenging spots” - Chip Lutz
“Best 36 holes in America” - Chris Lange
“When you get through 14 holes it feels like 18, if we had to go against Bobby and Lee in Match play over the gauntlet I don’t know if we would have gotten them” - Stewart Hagestad (when asked about the tournament being shortened)
“Love Winged Foot and the people who run it. This has been very very special” - Mike McBride (when asked how it was playing front of his wife and Dad with whom he played in his first Anderson)
“This is the best golf I've ever seen, I’ve learned so much watching these two. The detail the routine. No stone is left unturned” - Stuart Houghton (The champions' caddie, who has looped at Winged Foot for 7 years)
OUR CORRESPONDENT - JOSEPH NIEPORTE
AmateurGolf.com's newest team member put himself right in front of one of the biggest events of the year for his first working tournament. He wanted to walk the fairways of the club where his grandfather, Tom Nieporte, was the head professional from 1978 to 2006.
"Interesting story about my grandfather," explained Nieporte. "The course was tipped out using two new tee boxes. The first one is on 17 which shares real estate with the 13th tee of the East course. The second is on 10 -- stretching the hole out to 220 yards. This tee box is named “Tom's Tee” -- it was my grandpa's idea to put it there and a plaque has been installed at the location in his honor. "
Both tee boxes debuted at the US Open.
ABOUT THE Anderson Memorial
Perhaps the most coveted best-ball
invitation in all of amateur golf. Created in 1933 to
honor Winged Foot founding member and two time
Amateur runner-up John G. Anderson, the event
consists of a 36 hole qualifier followed by two days
match play competition in both Championship and
View Complete Tournament Information