Neal Barfield wins 2024 Friendship Cup
Jerry McMullen (left), John Armstrong, Neal Barfield (Friendship Cup Photo)
Jerry McMullen (left), John Armstrong, Neal Barfield (Friendship Cup Photo)

The 2024 Friendship Cup concluded in Canada at the Legends on the Niagara Golf Complex in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The annual event brought American and Canadian seniors, super seniors, and legends to Niagara Falls for individual and team play. The United States won each of the divisions, with Neal Barfield, Jerry McMullen, and John Armstrong receiving medalist honors in their respective divisions. 

Neal Barfield of Dallas, Tex., took home the victory in the Senior division at 4-under with rounds of 69-73-70  to win by three strokes. Bryan Hancock of Hoschton, Ga., was runner-up 1-under with rounds of 71-7-74, the only other player in the division under par.

Finishing in solo third place was Auburn, Ala., native Michael Arason at 3-under, who finished with rounds of 75-74-70. Chad Branton of Cartersville, Ga., finished at 5-over, and Canadian Rob Cowan, who finished at 6-over, rounded out the top five in the senior division. 

"The course was great. The greens were in great shape. Ushers Creek was a good mix of tighter, windier holes and some scoreable par 5's," said Barfield. "... I had never been to Niagara Falls but wanted to check it out...The tournament ran really well, and the hospitality from Rick Janes, Don Edwards, and the staff was incredible."

Indeed, Barfield took advantage of the par 5's--making seven birdies on 12 attempts to lead the field.

Barfield started the final round one shot behind Bryan Hancock, who hung around after a couple of early bogeys. After turning with a 4-under 32, Barfield shot a 2-over 38 on the back nine to shoot 2-under 70 and hold off Hancock. 

"Bryan (Hancock) played great coming in. Stuffed some wedges within the leather, kept it interesting."

The 2024 Friendship Cup marks the first win of Barfield's senior amateur career. 

In the Super Senior Division, Carmel, Ind., native Jerry McMullen took home the championship at 8-over with rounds of 71-77-76 to win by one stroke over Ed Turner of Richardson, Tex., who finished 9-over and fired rounds of 70-76-79. In third place was Don Edwards of Bonita Springs, Fla., who shot 14-over with rounds of 79-77-74. 

In the Legends Division, the senior-most division, John Armstrong of Frostburg, Md., beat the field by 15 strokes over 54 holes. Armstrong shot 11-under and fired rounds of 69-68-68, the only player in any division with three rounds in the 60s. Bev Hargraves of Helena, Ark., carded rounds of 70-75-75 to in solo second place. In third place was Marc Fried of Solon, Ohio, who shot rounds of 73-75-74 to finish 6-over. 

1TXNeal BarfieldDallas, TX50069-73-70=212
2GABryan HancockHoschton, GA30071-70-74=215
3ALMichael ArasonAuburn, AL20075-74-70=219
4GAChad BrantonCartersville, GA20076-73-72=221
T5CanadaRob CowanCanada20075-71-76=222

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Started in 2019, and hosted by the Niagara Parks Commission which was established in 1885 to preserve and protect the vast Niagara River corridor. 54-hole scratch event for senior amateurs will have four age divisions: Senior (55-64), Super Senior (65-69), Legends (70-74), and Super Legends (75 plus years). Following 3 days of competition, an individual champion and awards will be presented in each division.

In addition to individual stroke play, competitors from the United States and Canada will each have the opportunity to represent their country and contribute to the Friendship Cup team competition. At the conclusion of play each day, based on the size of the field, the top 6 scores in each division will represent the score for the U.S. and Canadian teams.

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