Melan Dhaubhadel (Metropolitan Golf Association photo)
Thirty-six holes wasn’t enough to decide a champion, Tuesday, in the 68th Ike MGA Stroke Play Championship at Brooklawn Country Club, as MGA eClub – New Jersey member Melan Dhaubhadel outlasted Christian Cavaliere of Hudson National in a three-hole aggregate playoff to win the title. Both players finished the championship at 7-under 203.
Dhaubhadel made a trio of pars on Nos. 14-15-16 at Brooklawn, defeating Cavaliere by one shot, 10-11, as Cavaliere made a lone bogey with a three-putt on the par-3 15th. Dhaubhadel sealed the deal with an up and down from behind the challenging green on the par-4 16th, making his chip land in the rough and slowly trundle down to a couple feet. After Cavaliere’s birdie bid slid by, Dhaubhadel finished the work to etch his name in MGA history.
“The up and down on the last was a good up and down to seal it,” said the 22-year-old, who also got up and down from the same spot in regulation. “To get up and down from there twice today was special.”
Dhaubhadel, a native of Berkshire, England, was playing in the Ike for just the second time, having finished in the top-10 last year. He played his first year of college golf at Farleigh Dickinson University before transferring to University of Louisiana Monroe, but he still returns to the area during the summer and caddies at Alpine Country Club.
“I was really nervous throughout the whole tournament,” said Dhaubhadel. “It’s good to see a lot of hard work pay off, so I’m really happy.”
Dhaubhadel opened the championship with a 4-under 66 on Monday, his round highlighted by an eagle-two on the par-4 13th, his second hole of the championship.
“I didn’t have my best stuff off the tee, but kept it in play and my process was pretty good tee to green and then a few puts fell, and I found my way a few under par,” he said of his opening round.
He continued the solid play Tuesday morning, firing a 1-under 69 to enter the final round in a five-way tie for first at 5-under par. Dhaubhadel opened with four consecutive pars and made the first jump with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 5 and 6. Though he added a bogey on the par-4 eighth, a birdie on the par-5 11th once again earned him the solo lead.
Dhaubhadel parred his way in to card a 2-under 68 in the final round. While Dhaubhadel carried his own bag for the majority of the championship, he had a Brooklawn caddie from the crowd join him for the final five holes of the final round and in the playoff.
While fellow second-round co-leaders Brad Tilley of host Brooklawn and Colin Summers of Plainfield barely fell off the pace with rounds of 72 and 71, respectively. Cavaliere posted a 2-under 68 to force the playoff, while Charlie Berridge of Wykagyl lipped out a birdie look on the final hole to just miss the playoff and shoot 1-under 69 for solo third.
“I had no idea about any of my competitors throughout the whole tournament,” said Dhaubhadel. “I was just focusing on myself and just controlling my own game. I was just picking good targets the whole week. The putter was pretty hot today, so it was a good day.”
For Dhaubhadel, the win not only means a lot for the status of his game, but also on a personal level after facing some off-the-course difficulties.
“It’s been a really long time since I’ve won,” he said. “I’ve been struggling with a couple things – personal things – and it’s really good to keep pushing through the storm and come out with a win after it all.”
Summers finished solo fifth, while Nathan Han of Salem and Tilley shared fifth at 3-under for the championship. Sam Weiss of Century and Shane Bacon of Brooklawn tied seventh, with Bacon firing the low score of the final round with a 4-under 66.
Tilley and Bacon combined to win the Ike Team Championship, which is conducted concurrently with the Ike Championship. The title is awarded to the two individuals from the same club with the lowest combined score for 54 holes.
The last host club to claim the Team title was in 2016, with Ryan Souffer and Kieran Purcell claiming the win for Essex County Country Club. That was also the last year with a playoff for the title, as Cameron Young outdueled Peter Kim.
Adam Friedman of Sterling Farms finished solo ninth at 1-under, while Charles Schrohe of Burning Tree, Pat Wilson of Hamilton Farm, Matt Ferrari of Metropolis, and Will O’Neill of Spring Brook all tied for 10th at even-par. The top-10 finishers all earn exemptions into the 121st Met Amateur Championship at Friar’s Head in August, in addition to next year’s Ike at Nassau Country Club.
Brooklawn and its historic A.W. Tillinghast layout was welcoming the Ike for the first time, continuing a streak of five consecutive first-time Ike hosts in recent years. The Club of course is no stranger to championship golf, having previously hosted five USGA championships in addition to four past MGA championships, including the 1919 Met Amateur.
The layout and its famed Tillinghast greens tested players, with just nine competitors finishing under-par for the 54-hole championship. Dhaubhadel joins players such as Oswald Kirkby, Andy Svoboda and Mark Costanza as winners of MGA championships at the club.
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ABOUT THE The Ike
The Ike tournament was founded in 1953 by Daily
News sportswriter Dana Mozley and nurtured
the years by Mozley and former MGA President
Sands. Although always immensely popular, the
suffered during the late 1970s and early ‘80s after
Daily News dropped its sponsorship. In 1986, the
(with the financial support of MetLife) purchased the
rights to the Ike. With the MGA’s involvement, the
event regained its stature and quickly became the
area’s premier stroke-play amateur event. The Ike
today attracts more entries than any other MGA
championship for individuals. The Ike is Open to
golfers who are members of an MGA member club.
54-hole stroke play championship with a cut after
the first round.
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