Handley Wins MGA Mid-Amateur
WEST CALDWELL, N.J. (October 8, 2014) – The 8th MGA Mid-Amateur Championship at Mountain Ridge Country Club came down to the final few holes between Fairleigh Dickinson college roommates Niall Handley of Essex Fells and Brian Komline of Black Oak. In the end, thanks to a spectacular up-and-down on the 18th hole, Handley won his second MGA Mid-Amateur, joining Dennis Lynch as the only two-time winners in the event’s history.
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Komline was the first round leader after recording the only under par round on day one. Handley was able to catch up to him in the final round, though. A double bogey on the 17th and a bogey on the 18th for Komline left Handley with a one stroke victory, but that by no means meant it was given to him. The wind was so strong that Handley’s steady final round score of 1-over 72 was the low round of the day, giving him the winning 36-hole total of 3-over 145.
“I kind of knew around par would win,” Handley said. “It was a really tough day, the wind was blowing 30, 40 miles an hour and the greens were very fast and very difficult.”
Handley told his caddie all day they had to be patient. His score reflected that, making just one birdie, two bogeys, and 15 pars.
“I knew I was in the mix, normally I want to know where I am in the tournament, but I didn’t want to know [today],” he said. “I didn’t want to start chasing pins and making bogeys.”
After a bogey on 15, Handley then knew where he stood and remained calm, making pars on 17 and 18 that included that miraculous up-and-down.
“I didn’t know Brian made double at that point and thought he still had a two shot lead, so I figured I had to get that up-and-down,” Handley said. “Brian’s a very good friend of mine and I know he had an unfortunate finish, so I’m very fortunate to win.”
The par on 18 gave him his second MGA Mid-Am win, putting him in elite company.
“It means a lot, I know Dennis Lynch won it twice and the first time I won it was very special,” he said. “The MGA is a great organization and I’m very honored to win this event twice.”
After Komline’s double on the 17th, he still only needed par on the difficult par 4 18th. He hit a phenomenal iron shot from 140 yards out that landed four feet short of the pin and spun back off the green. That forced him to have to get up-and-down to send it into a playoff. He chipped it to about seven feet, but a tough sliding left to right putt just missed the cup.
“I hit a bunch of good shots but unfortunately didn’t get rewarded for them. That’s golf, it happens,” Komline said. “It is what it is, everybody has to play the same holes under the same conditions and I didn’t get it done. I’m happy for Niall, he’s a good friend and he earned it.”
While Komline couldn’t pull out the victory, he has had a great season. He recorded two victories this year at the Brae Burn Invitational and Eagle Oaks Invitational. The runner-up finish is something to build on for next year, but he is ready for a break.
“After today’s finish, I’m really looking forward to a few months off,” he said.
Finishing alone in third was reigning Rockland County Amateur Champion Ryan Chin of Arcola, who carded a 36-hole total of 5-over 147.
Just a stroke behind at 7-over 149 was 2013 Met Am runner-up and member of this year’s French-American Challenge team Trevor Randolph of Arcola. Matching that score and tying with Randolph for fourth was Bryan Pendrick of Mill River.
Jay Sessa of Cherry Valley finished in sixth with a 9-over 151, and tied for seventh were Jon Doppelt of Fresh Meadow and Dennis Lynch of Nassau Players with scores of 11-over 153. Mountain Ridge’s own Jay Blumenfeld and 2014 MGA Senior-Amateur winner was near the top of the leaderboard throughout the event and finished with a 13-over 155.
Through windy conditions, Mountain Ridge was a beautiful backdrop for the championship. The site of the 2012 U.S. Senior Amateur will host the 2020 Met Open Championship.