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Dramatic Finish Lands Tilley Mid-Am Sweep

Brad Tilley and Gene Westmoreland

Tilley and longtime MGA tournament director Gene Westmoreland, whose name is tied to the MGA Mid-Am trophy.

DARIEN, Conn. (October, 8, 2019) — Brad Tilley drained a 50-foot par-saving putt on the final hole at Wee Burn Country Club on Tuesday afternoon, creating a wild finish that resulted in his one-shot victory over Chester Patterson of Darlington and Jonathan Jeter of Nassau Players in the 13th MGA Mid-Amateur Championship.

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Tilley, 36, entered the final day one shot behind Patterson and MGA eClub - NYC member Matthew Rendell, who both opened with even-par 72s. Playing his first 16 holes in even-par, Tilley jumped in front of Patterson by a shot, but his tee shot on 17 found the left trees for the second straight day. From there, it took him several shots to get back into position.

"When I finally got it back out in play after hitting a bunch of trees, I told myself to focus on making the up-and-down for triple," said Tilley of his trouble on the hole. From 88 yards, he knocked it to a couple feet and made his seven. He headed to the finisher trailing Patterson by two shots, but the drama was just beginning.

"I knew I was down one or two after my mess on 17 and I just wanted to try to make an eagle," said Tilley of his thoughts heading to the uphill, par-5 18th. "I was trying to blast a drive and pulled it and it kicked OB just by a foot." Going back to the tee, Tilley piped his next drive down the middle and then, 252 yards away from the back hole location, smashed a 5-wood to the green's lower tier.

His long par bid dropped, while behind him Patterson's second shot on 18 went out of bounds. Patterson safely layed up his next shot, with his fifth shot finding the back of the green and leaving a downhill, curling 20-footer. His first attempt slid eight feet by, while his attempt at double-bogey caught the low edge and curled out, earning Tilley the title.

"I somehow made the 50-footer, which at the time I probably thought was for solo second and it turned out to be the winning putt, which is very wild and a fun way to finish for me," said Tilley, who has now won the New York State Mid-Amateur, Westchester Mid-Amateur and MGA Mid-Amateur titles in a span of 10 days. No other player has ever won all three in their career, let alone in such a short time span. Only Patrick Pierson (NYSGA & WGA) and Michael Karger (WGA & MGA) have won two of the three.

"It's unbelievable," remarked Tilley on the accomplishment, which has launched him to the seventh spot on the MGA's Player of the Year Honor Roll. "I would have been really happy to be in contention in any of them or win one."

Though his season didn't get off to a strong start, Tilley has pieced together the puzzle and returned his game to form.

"It was just kind of bunched up earlier in the year as far as tournaments, so I didn't really have time to work on anything," said Tilley, who after playing professionally for several years regained his amateur status in 2017. After getting some time to make some equipment changes and work on his swing with friend and European Tour player Hugo Leon, Tilley saw progress as he advanced to match play in the Met Amateur. Even more time leading to the NYSGA Mid-Amateur allowed him to further sharpen his game.

"It gave me a lot of time to think about things, work on things and slowly piece together my game and my confidence," said Tilley. "Going up to the Syracuse area and doing what I did up there was a huge catalyst and hopefully we can just keep riding this wave."

For Tilley, the victory also returns him to the MGA winner's circle. "It's an honor being an Ike champion from 2003. To be able to come pull it off for three in a row and to be an MGA champion again is a massive honor." With the win, Tilley takes possession of the Westmoreland Cup, named for longtime MGA tournament director Gene Westmoreland who led the way in establishing the MGA Mid-Amateur Championship.

One shot behind Tilley's 4-over 148, Patterson and Jeter tied for second while Ken Bakst of Friar's Head and Michael Auerbach of Nassau Players finished tied for fourth at 6-over 150. Hunter Semels of North Hempstead finished solo sixth, while James Arbes of Shackamaxon, Michael O'Connell of Arcola and Richard Hayes of Silver Spring tied for seventh. Robert Johnson of Trump National - Hudson Valley fired Tuesday's low score of 1-over 73, leading four players in a tie for 10th at 9-over 153.

Wee Burn, a three-time host of the U.S. Women's Amateur, served as an outstanding host of the MGA Mid-Amateur Championship, which in recent years has taken place at the Met Area's top clubs including Tamarack, Bayonne, and Maidstone. This was the sixth MGA event hosted by the club, the last being the Senior Amateur in 2008. The club was established in 1896 in Noroton and in 1923 relocated to Darien, opening its Devereux Emmet layout two years later. The course is characterized by small greens often surrounded by either mounds or dropoffs. 

Though both rounds were played in cool, damp conditions and rain fell overnight between rounds, players raved about the course's outstanding conditions from tee to green.

The 14th MGA Mid-Amateur Championship will take place at Somerset Hills Golf Club in Bernardsville, N.J.

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