Humphrey Wins MGA/MetLife Boys Championship at Rumson

RUMSON, N.J. (August 12, 2011) – Two of the top 15-year-olds in the Met Area staged a close and exciting final match at the 43rd MGA/MetLife Boys Championship, with Theo Humphrey of Greenwich, Conn., emerging as a 2 & 1 winner over Christopher Gabriele of Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. On a picture-perfect day at Rumson Country Club, neither competitor held more than a 1-up lead until the very end as both players showed the games that had allowed them to reach the finals of this two-day, match play championship.

Humphrey, who led after the first round of the Carter Cup at Baltusrol on August 3 following a round of 69 on the Upper Course, was pleased that he played well enough down the stretch to win his first MGA title.

“I scored and managed my game well today,” said Humphrey, who will be a sophomore at Rye Country Day School in Rye, N.Y. “I hit some loose shots but I was able to recover, and I didn’t make too many bogeys.”

Humphrey actually got off to a rocky start. Although he won the second hole with a par, he then lost the fourth and fifth holes to go 1-down. He squared the match with a birdie on the eighth hole in which he took a bit of a risk.

“In match play you can usually take more chances,” explained Humphrey, “and on the eighth I had a small window between two branches and I hit a perfect 8-iron that ended up three feet away for birdie. That really turned the match around for me.”

After taking a 1-up lead on the ninth hole following a bogey by Gabriele, Humphrey arrived at the short par-four 10th hole and displayed the power that allowed him to score on the fast, firm, par-71 layout at Rumson. His drive on the 350-yard hole rolled up to the greenside rough, and though he ended up halving the hole with par, he seemed to get a jump in his step and stay sharp for the remainder of the match.

Gabriele, who will be a sophomore at Cold Spring Harbor High School on Long Island, would not bow down, however. After the players halved holes 11 through 13, the youngster rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-three 14th hole to square the match with four holes to play.

The par-four 15th hole at Rumson is a fairly straight par four that is notable for its difficult, sloping green. Gabriele fell victim to it, taking three putts from the front-left fringe to make bogey and fall back in a 1-down hole to Humphrey. The two then hit their approaches to within five feet on the par-four 16th hole and conceded birdies, preserving Humphrey’s 1-up edge.

The match came to an end on the 17th green when Gabriele, who pushed his tee shot to the right rough, came up short on his flop shot and made a bogey, while Humphrey lagged his birdie effort to three feet for a conceded par.

“Short putts were the difference for me today,” lamented Gabriele. “I missed a short one for par on the first hole that would have given me a 1-up edge. But still, I take something positive out of making it to the final.”

By virtue of making the finals of the MGA/MetLife Boys Championship, Humphrey and Gabriele are exempt into the 2012 Met Junior Championship at Nissequogue Golf Club on Long Island, as well as the 2012 Carter Cup at Baltusrol.

Rumson was hosting the MGA/MetLife Boys Championship for a record 10th time. Next year, the championship returns to Gardiner’s Bay Country Club on Shelter Island, N.Y.

--------------------------------------------Semifinals Recap-----------------------------------------

On a comfortable, sunny morning at Rumson Country Club, two 15-year-old competitors emerged as finalists at the 43rd MGA/MetLife Boys Championship. Theo Humphrey of Greenwich, Conn., and Christopher Gabriele of Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., play each other for the right to be crowned an MGA champion for the first time in their career.

The semifinal matches on Friday morning were closely fought and featured some exceptional shotmaking on the 6,745-yard, par-71 layout. Humphrey, who finished tied for fifth at the Carter Cup at Baltusrol on August 3, was 1-down through six holes in his semifinal against Jeremy Wall of Brielle, N.J., before going on a mid-round run that proved to be the difference. Humphrey won the seventh hole with a par to square the match and then rolled in three birdies in a row on the ninth, 10th, and 11th holes to take a 3-up lead and put Wall in a position where he had to play aggressively to come back.

Wall did just that, and received some good fortune in the form of a chip-in on the par-three 14th hole to give himself some life and cut Humphrey's lead to 2-up. However, he then missed a par putt that would have halved the 15th hole, allowing Humphrey ito regain the 3-up lead and close out the match on the next hole, 3 & 2.

The second semifinal pitted Gabriele against a fellow Long Islander, Kyle Brey of Farmingdale, N.Y. Brey was coming off a successful appearance playing for the MGA on the victorious Williamson Cup team, and he handily won his two matches on Thursday to put himself in the semifinals. However, he wasn't quite as sharp today and endured a six-hole stretch of four bogeys and one double that derailed his chances against Gabriele. It is the farthest Gabriele has advanced in an MGA championship.

The final match began at 12:00 PM on Friday, August 12, and live scoring is available by clicking here.