SVCC’s Matt Mattare wins Middle-Amateur in playoff
PAOLI, Pa.–Matthew Mattare’s quest for a Major trophy finally ended at the pot of gold the Notre Dame alum has longingly sought. Mattare, of Saucon Valley Country Club, outlasted Michael R. Brown, Jr. of Philadelphia Publinks GA and Matt Finger of DuPont Country Club in a four-hole aggregate playoff for the 33rd Middle-Amateur Championship presented by Callaway Golf on Thursday at Waynesborough Country Club (par 71, 6,859 yards). Mattare finished the playoff with 14 strokes; Brown had 15 and Finger had 16.
Matthew Mattare interview | Michael R. Brown, Jr. interview | Matt Finger interview |
“Finally. As excited as I am, I am more relieved than anything,” said Mattare, 30, of Jersey City, N.J. “It’s been eight years since the Patterson [Cup] where I came close and Glenn [Smeraglio] edged me out in the end. It’s been a long trip to get here. And I’m glad I arrived.”
Mattare finished second to Smeraglio in the 2008 Joseph H. Patterson Cup when the 36-hole event was split between St. Davids Golf Club and Waynesborough. Mattare fired a first-round 67 at Waynesborough that year.
“It was good to be back here,” said Mattare, who works in wealth management for Morgan Stanley.
The leaderboard was a revolving door all day, but looked closed with Finger holding a one-stroke edge standing on the reachable 18th (par 5, 527 yards) tee. Brown and Mattare had already posted their 1-over-par 143 totals for the two days and Finger, the co-first-round leader, needed just a par to secure the win. His drive caught the right rough though, and his third shot, an 8-iron from 151 yards, landed 60 feet short and right of the hole.
“I didn’t really know where I stood going to 18 but I thought I had a one-shot lead,” said Finger, 38, of Woolwich Township, N.J. “I took 3-wood off the tee and put it in the right rough. I hit a 5-iron out. And then I hit an 8-iron into the green, which I thought was good, but it kind of shot up and just got stuck in the wind. I had four feet left. I played it a left edge putt and pulled it. I didn’t finish. I don’t know what else to say. That one is going to hurt.”
The playoff rotation was Nos. 1-4-8-9.
All three players parred No. 1 (par 4, 367 yards) in good order before Finger resuscitated his shocked system with a birdie on No. 4 (par 3, 189 yards). He ripped a 6-iron to 12 feet and drained the putt. His two opponents made par to fall a shot back.
On No. 8 (par 4, 371 yards), Finger, who placed a premium on driving accuracy all week, strayed into trouble off the tee similar to the closing hole. His 2-iron tee shot found the left rough, obscured from the green by a tree. His second shot then rolled into a greenside bunker. He eventually made five. Mattare, on the other hand, stated his title intentions loudly. His 108-yard lob wedge cozied up to three feet.
“As soon as it left the club I knew it was perfect,” said Mattare.
Brown, 43, of Maple Shade, N.J., made a miraculous up-and-down after missing the green left, draining a 30-foot putt for par. Mattare sank his short birdie and now headed to No. 9 (par 4, 438 yards) one stroke clear.
Needing one more timely swing, Mattare rocketed a drive center-cut.
“On every shot I was saying ‘Be decisive. Don’t be tentative.’ Yesterday, on the first nine it was just tentative strokes. I kept trying to steer it with my irons. Steer it with the driver. I got up on No. 2, which was my 11th hole, and I had a five-footer for birdie and just waved at it. I said ‘Start being decisive,’” said Mattare. “From that point forward before every single shot I said ‘Be decisive.’ And that’s exactly what I did.”
Mattare, left with 138 yards to the hole, launched a pitching wedge to the green that rolled out to 25 feet. Brown, in the right rough, smacked a fantastic 9-iron from 151 yards to 30 feet on the same line as Mattare. Finger missed his approach left and then chipped long. Brown’s birdie scooted by leaving Mattare needing only a two-putt for the win, which he did.
“Philly is my home. These are the most important tournaments of the year to me,” said Mattare, who was the medalist in the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. “I have a great group of friends down here. It means everything. You look at all the guys who have won over the last couple of years, a bunch of friends like Jeff Osberg, Michael McDermott and John Brennan, it’s great to join their little club.”
It is Mattare’s first Golf Association of Philadelphia Major victory.
“I had no expectations there would be a playoff,” said Brown. “I was pretty confident the number would be even. I needed three or four things to happen for 1 over to be the number and they did. I backed into that playoff for sure. I was happy to have another chance.”
Defending champion Scott McNeil of Bala Golf Club carded rounds of 78 and 77 to tie for 44th place.
At various points throughout the day, seven different players held the lead. A bit of a breeze and championship greens kept the field compact.
Golf Association of Philadelphia