Stephen Behr, Jr. eyes an iron shot at Pine Valley (Sean Melia/AmateurGolf.com photo)
A pair of first-time champions emerged from a turbulent final day of the 97th George A. Crump Memorial Tournament. Two weather delays stretched out the proceedings at Pine Valley Golf Club and forced the postponement of the awards ceremony as players raced to the airport immediately after play. But for the winners, it was worth the wait.
In his first Crump Cup, Stephen Behr, Jr.
of Alpharetta, Ga. came away with the biggest win of his career, defeating Jimmy Ellis
of Venetia, Pa., 3 and 2 in the championship match. Meanwhile, longtime Crump Cup participant Tommy Brennan
of Covington, La. defeated Mike McCoy
of Norwalk, Iowa to win the senior title.
The two finalists didn't have easy paths to the finals.
Behr, Jr. was two down to Tug Maude
with five holes to play in the semifinals but managed to win the last four holes for a 2 and 1 victory, while Ellis defeated two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad
of Newport Beach, Calif. on the 19th hole to set up Sunday afternoon's championship match.
The 29-year-old Behr, Jr., who played collegiately at Clemson and was named AmateurGolf.com's Mid-Amateur Player of the Year
in 2020, navigated the treacherous layout with accurate driving and solid iron play to walk away with a 3 and 2 victory over Ellis, a former Ohio University standout who tasted victory at the Pittsburgh Classic at St. Clair Country Club in early August.
"It's definitely the biggest win of my career," said Behr, Jr., who had never played Pine Valley prior to this week. "It's such an honor to play in the Crump Cup and I had chill bumps and was pinching myself for just being here all week."
Behr, Jr. gained a 1-up lead over Ellis with a birdie on the monstrous, uphill 238-yard par-3 fifth hole.
Stephen Behr, Jr. (Sean Melia/AG photo)
His lead was still one when he hit his second shot into the greenside bunker on the par-4 13th hole, which Bobby Jones once referenced as being the greatest par four in the world.
With Behr, Jr. bunkered, rain set in once again at Pine Valley, forcing a delay of approximately 20 minutes.
When play resumed, Behr, Jr. left his third shot in the bunker, then hit his fourth to 12 feet and managed to save bogey to half the hole.
"That was huge," said Behr, Jr. "It's not often when a bogey works in your favor in match play but it sure did there."
Behr extended his lead to 2 up on the 14th before closing out the match on the 16th.
"Pine Valley is one of the most exceptional clubs and courses in the world and to win here is something I'll always cherish."
defeated Drew Kittleson
, 2 and 1 in the second flight of the championship division while Michael Barbosa
downed Bobby Leopold
, 3 and 2 to win the third flight.
Tommy Brennan's last significant victory
as a senior amateur came at the 2016 Trans-Miss Senior Championship at Houston Country Club.
Mike McCoy (L) congratulates Tommy Brennan (Sean Melia/AG photo)
To win the Senior Crump Cup, he had the unenviable task of facing reigning British Senior Amateur champion and Walker Cup captain Mike McCoy in the championship final.
The 61-year-old Brennan was up to the challenge, as he claimed the championship on the first extra hole, the 425-yard first, considered the "finest 19th hole in golf."
Brennan found himself three down after he deemed his ball lost in a tree on the 636-yard, par-5 seventh hole, but eventually drew even with defending Senior Crump Cup champion.
Tommy Brennan's ball ended up in a tree on #7 (Sean Melia/AG photo)
On the first extra hole, McCoy hit his tee shot into the right fairway bunker and was forced to play out sideways back into the fairway. He then hit his third shot to eight feet.
Brennan's long birdie putt came up six feet short and after McCoy missed his par putt, Brennan closed out the match with a clutch par save.
In the second flight of the senior division, Michael Kelley
defeated John McClure
, 3 and 2.
Sean Melia of AmateurGolf.com contributed to this report.
ABOUT THE Crump Cup
The George A. Crump Memorial Tournament --
hotelier and course architect most famous for
Pine Valley -- is arguably the premier mid-
event in the United States. The invitational field
made of of top players from around the United
and the UK. The format for the four days is two
of stroke play qualifying, followed by four
match play. Players are flighted according to
qualifying position, and a separate Senior flight
includes three of those flights. Jay Sigel has won
event the most times, with nine victories
1975 and 1993.
Normally, the public is invited to attend the Sunday
final matches but that tradition has been suspended.
View Complete Tournament Information