Clutch Finish Earns McRae MGA Senior Amateur Title
GREENWICH, Conn. (May 4, 2021) – A 2-under 34 over the closing nine at Round Hill Club propelled Roddy McRae of Baltusrol to victory in the 94th MGA Senior Amateur Championship on Tuesday. McRae overcame a four-shot deficit over the final nine, posting 3-over 145 to win by one stroke.
McRae began the day just one shot behind his fellow competitor Dennis Lynch of Baiting Hollow.
“I played really well yesterday, and I think I played smart,” said McRae, who was seeing the course for the very first time during the opening round. “I think keeping the ball in the right spot on the course was important. So, I was just going to go in and do the same kind of thing and see what happened. I was just trying to hit the shots I needed to hit.”
Despite an early birdie on the par-5 second hole, McRae registered five bogeys over the next seven holes and fell four behind Lynch as they made the turn toward the challenging home stretch.
“On the front nine—not that I felt things slipping away—I was hitting the ball well, I was playing well,” said McRae, who just turned 55 on Saturday. “I just was missing a green here or there.”
McRae tidied up his game on the inward nine, sparked perhaps by a two on the par-3 11th. “I hit a ball to about two feet on the 11th hole for birdie, which got me under par on the back nine which got me excited,” he said. “After making bogeys on the front, I just wanted to play a good back nine and have a good round.”
Meanwhile, Lynch had continued his overall steady play with an even-par front, but a trio of bogeys on Nos. 10, 13 and 14 opened the door. McRae took advantage, making pars on Nos. 12-15 and adding a birdie on the par-5 16th to grab a one-shot lead on Lynch.
On the 18th, McRae’s approach to the elevated green just hopped over, but a clutch chip and four-foot putt wrapped up an impressive closing nine and secured the one-shot victory.
“One thing about the back nine, and I felt I did it yesterday too, is you really have to play strategic,” said McRae. “I didn’t challenge it. I sort of just hit the ball in the big spots and I got two birdies out of it. That was my strategy on the back. The holes aren’t necessary as long, but there’s a lot out there, so to keep the ball short of trouble really helped me out.”
McRae’s strategy certainly worked, as he only made one bogey on the inward nine over the two days of competition.
As McRae signed his scorecard, he couldn’t believe that he had won the championship.
“To win an MGA event is not something I really have contemplated,” he admitted. “These are the best players in this area. Everybody knows New Jersey, Connecticut, Long Island, New York. how many great players there are and the accomplished seniors. I hope I’m not a one-hit wonder, but it’s a real honor and humbling to have played with these guys and to have won. It’s going to take a while for this to set in.”
Lynch finished solo second at 4-over 146. Don Enga of Cherry Valley, Roger Hoit of Baltusrol and Bart Weissman of Sterling Farms all tallied 5-over 147s to tie third. Stephen Boyd of Baltusrol, Cyrus Whitney of Hackensack, Dave Scialabba of Meadow Brook and Marc Coleman of Nassau Players all tied sixth behind 6-over 148s. Alan Specht of Port Jefferson and John Capra of Stanton Ridge rounded out the top-10 with 7-over 149s.
This was Round Hill’s first time hosting the MGA Senior Amateur Championship and the field enjoyed competing on the historic Walter Travis layout. The course placed a high demand on accuracy from tee to green as players took on its rolling fairways and undulating greens. Competitors complemented the balance between the challenge and fairness of the course, which certainly produced an entertaining start to the 2021 season.
The 95th MGA Senior Amateur Championship will take place at Haworth Country Club in Haworth, N.J.