Left to right: Matt Mattare, Gene Mattare, and Mark McGowan (Emmet Cup runner-up)
Even a wedding wasn't going to stand in the way of Matt Mattare
and the Walter J. Travis Invitational.
"I had a wedding I couldn't miss in Philly, so I had to play my quarterfinal match and then drive to Philly for it and then drive back for the semi-final," Mattare said. "It's the Travis Cup. It's the best event in amateur golf."
Mattare has had some close calls in the past at the Travis Invitational, including a runner-up finish in 2019, but this time he saw it out to the end.
"In the previous runs I’ve lost to great players who played a little better than me in the match I lost," Mattare said. "I think you just have to keep putting yourself in position, make sure the close calls grow your confidence instead of shaking it, and eventually moral victories will turn into the ones that matter."
The Travis Invitational uses an 18-hole qualifier in order to flight the field, and for the first time in its history an under-par round didn't guarantee a place in the Travis Cup flight. Garden City is a par 73, and there was a 9-for-10 playoff among those that shot 72. Mattare snuck into the top flight with a 71. Joe Deraney
was the medalist with a 67.
Mattare played some excellent golf in his four matches, with only one match reaching the 17th hole. He defeated Brett Cooper 5&4, John Hunter
2&1, Connor Casey 4&3, on the way to the final against Brandon Delinka
The match with John Hunter was the closest of the bunch. Mattare made a clutch birdie on the 17th hole from a greenside bunker while Hunter was sitting pretty on the green putting for eagle from 40 feet.
However, there were also some dicey moments in the final match, as Mattare fell behind early after a bogey on the second hole and a birdie by Dalinka on the fourth had him two down.
Mattare found himself needing a tough putt on the sixth hole.
"On six I made a really slippery 12-foot slider to save par and win the hole which got things going in the right direction," Mattare said.
However, a moment on the ninth hole could have derailed Mattare.
"The dumbest moment was on the ninth hole in the championship match when I had to two-putt from 12 feet to win the hole and somehow managed to putt it into a bunker," Mattare said. "I’ve putted into a bunker twice in my life—both times have been on the ninth at Garden City to the same pin. I will probably need a therapist on the bag if they stick the pin there again."
Mattare was able to bounce back on the 10th hole with a wedge to six feet; he converted the birdie to grab his first lead of the match en route to his 3&2 victory.
"Everyone you face in these events is elite and sometimes it just comes down to who makes a couple putts at key times. Thankfully this week the ones that I needed fell," Mattare said.
With appearances in multiple U.S. Mid-Amateurs, Crump Cups, Porter Cups, and Coleman Cups, Mattare is used to competing with the best on some of the greatest, most challenging golf courses in the country. Garden City Golf Club is no different.
"Garden City is an incredibly special place. All it takes is one time on the property to understand the history and camaraderie that defines it," Mattare said. "To have your name on the wall in that clubhouse is a huge deal and I couldn’t be more proud or honored to be a part of it."
In the Devereux Emmet bracket, Mark Costanza
, the US Mid-Am finalist on Nantucket in 2021, defeated Mark McGowan 5&4. Costanza, like Mattare, never needed to play the 18th hole in any of his matches.
In the senior bracket, Dave Scialabba
beat T.J. Brudzinski
1 up to take home the Dwight D. Eisenhower Cup.
Other flight winners were: Paul Tucker
(Charles B MacDonald), Mike McBride, Jr.
(Robert T Jones), and Griffin McQuilling
(William H Taft).
ABOUT THE Walter J. Travis Invitational
Tournament honors Walter Travis, three
Amateur champ and the first American to
British Amateur. Travis reworked the
Devereaux Emmet design. 18 hole qualifier
establishes match play flights.
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