Matthew Sughrue snags Jones Cup Senior Invitational in a playoff
Matthew Sughrue made a 20-foot putt for birdie on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff Wednesday afternoon to capture the victory at the Jones Cup Senior Invitational held on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in Georgia.

Sughrue, who is from Arlington, Va., defeated Allen Peake from Macon, Ga., in the playoff. The two players finished the three-round championship at 4-under-par to send the event to extra holes to determine the winner.

“In terms of wins, it’s right up there,” Sughrue said following the trophy presentation on the 10th green where the playoff ended.

This was the 11th edition of the tournament which began in 2012. It was played just weeks after the prestigious Jones Cup Invitational at Sea Island’s Ocean Forest Golf Club. The Jones Cup is considered one of the major tournaments in amateur golf.

Like its predecessor, the Jones Cup Senior attracts a deep field with some of the top golfers in the country ages 55 and over competing. It includes several highly-ranked players and also champions from national tournaments.

John Armstrong
The tourney also features a Super Senior Division for players aged 65 and older. This week’s Super Senior champion was John Armstrong from Frostburg, Md., who won by two strokes with a 4-over 220 total over the three rounds. Armstrong carded an even-par 72 in Wednesday’s final round after posting a pair of 74 scores to overtake Jack Kearney of Peachtree City, Ga., who struggled to an 82 over the final round and was forced to settle for a tie for second with John Dennis of Greenville, S.C., at 6-over for the three days.

“I just love it down here. This is one of my favorite stops,” Armstrong said.

The regular tournament came down to Sughrue and Peake who are both ranked among the top 20 in the AmateurGolf.Com senior rankings. Peake actually entered this week ranked third while Sughrue came down to the Georgia coast ranked 19th.

Sughrue forged the tie at the top of the leaderboard after 54 holes of stroke play with the second-best score of the day and the second-lowest in any round as he closed with a 4-under 68 after starting the final round at even-par and four shots off the lead. He shot 73 in the opening round on Monday and 71 in round two.

Peake began the last 18 at 4-under and posted a 72 to find himself tied for the top spot with Sughrue after regulation play. He shot 71 on day one to sit a stroke back of the co-leaders going into Tuesday’s second round when he carded a 69 to grab the overnight lead.

The first-round leaders were Rusty Strawn and Eddie Hargett who shot 2-under 70 to take the early lead. Strawn finished tied for fifth at 1-under with Jack Hall while Hargett ended up tied for ninth at 1-over for the three rounds. Strawn is currently ranked No. 2 while Hall is seventh. Hargett is also ranked among the top 30.

Sughrue, who climbed to No. 10 in the rankings after his Jones Cup Senior triumph, started fast in the final round with four birdies on his outward nine including three in a row to close out the opening stretch. He made a bogey and a birdie in his first six holes on his back nine and was tied for the lead when he stepped on the tee at the short par-4 17th that has an elevated green. He would make birdie there from inside 12 feet to take the lead over Peake who was playing in the last group behind him.

But after the par-5 finishing hole, Sughrue found himself tied for the lead again. That’s because he settled for a bogey after hitting his tee shot into the water hazard along the left side of the fairway which also encircles the green. Sughrue nearly saved par after getting on the green in four shots. He would have won the tournament in regulation had his six-foot putt for a five not lipped out. He raised his front leg, as if he were trying to help the ball in the hole, as he watched the slippery downhill putt come out of the cup.

“That’s golf,” Sughrue said of his last hole. “I’m not a professional. I make bad swings once in awhile. I put one in the water there, but I’m really proud that I recovered and got it to six feet. I figured that was gonna be to win it. I hit a great putt, but it lipped out.

“But I just got my mind right for the playoff and played solid in the playoff.”

He waited in the scoring area while Peake finished out with par after reaching the large 18th green in three and two-putting for his par. He made a four-footer for his par to secure a spot in the playoff.

Miles McConnell from Tampa, Fla., also came to the last with a chance to reach 4-under with a birdie and get into the playoff, but he settled for a par and shot 71 to finish third at 3-under. The playoff started on 18. Sughrue hit first and ripped a drive down the middle of the 517-yard hole. He hit his second shot into a greenside bunker while Peake laid up to about 125 yards. Peake flew the flagstick with his third shot which landed in light rough just off the back of the green. Sughrue would hit his third shot from the sand to about 20 feet from the pin.

Peake elected to putt on his fourth shot and rolled one close to assure his par. Sughrue, who had just missed a possible winning putt on the last on his final hole in regulation, saw his birdie putt hang on the lip of the cup before walking up and tapping in for his five.

On the second playoff hole, both players found the fairway. Peake again had about 125 yards to the stick on the short par-4 10th and would come up short of the green. Sughrue’s tee shot was just shy of the fairway bunkers in the middle of the fairway, leaving him an 85-yard approach which he pulled slightly left of the hole.

Peake putted from the fringe from about 70 feet and knocked his ball well past the hole. He would have faced a testy par-putt, but Sughrue rolled his up a slight incline and found the middle of the cup for the victory. He pumped his fist in the air as he walked to take his ball out of the bottom of the cup.

“I felt great with the putter all day. Everything was makeable for me today,” Sughrue noted.

He came to Sea Island playing well with two second-place finishes in his only other starts of the new year. He finished second last week at the Society of Seniors Spring Classic, coming in a stroke behind the winner at 216 after shooting 80-70-66.

“I was very calm. I played solid in all facets of my game,” Sughrue said after Wednesday’s round. “My putter was excellent, especially on the long two-putts and I made some 3- and 4-foot putts to save par. I’m really proud of this round. The pins were tucked and difficult, and I knew if I shot a good round like this I’d have a shot at winning.”

Peake also came into the week on a good run. He tied for fifth at the Society of Seniors event and also had won the Plantation Senior Invitational in January. He opened the 2022 season by tying for 11th at the Golfweek POY Classic.

“This would have been a huge win for me, but even just getting in a playoff is a huge deal for me. It’s a validation that I’m almost there,” Peake said. “I’m headed in the right direction. With this strong of a field, just being at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the day, I take that as a positive.”

Results: Jones Cup Senior
1VAMatt SughrueArlington, VA120073-71-68=212
2GAAllen PeakeMacon, GA90071-69-72=212
3FLMiles McConnellTampa, FL70073-69-71=213
4NYKevin VandenbergPulaski, NY70074-70-70=214
T5GARusty StrawnMcDonough, GA70070-72-73=215

View full results for Jones Cup Senior

ABOUT THE Jones Cup Senior

54-hole senior invitational event inaugurated in 2012, that follows in the footsteps of the Jones Cup, an event that unofficially kicks off the amateur circuit each year.

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