Tilley Is Triumphant At Fenway
SCARSDALE, N.Y. (August 7, 2022) – Nineteen years after reaching the semifinals of the Met Amateur for the first time, Brad Tilley of Sleepy Hollow went the distance, winning the 120th Met Amateur Championship at Fenway Golf Club, 6 and 5 over Robbie Herzig of Old Oaks. Tilley was 1-up after the morning 18 holes, but used wins on Nos. 22, 25 and 27 of the championship matches to take a commanding lead into the final nine holes and eventually close out the match on the 31st of the day.
“I don’t know if I can put it into words,” said Tilley after the victory. “To be able to add my name to a trophy with so many great names is an incredible feeling. To be the Met Amateur champion has got to be one of the greatest honors.”
Steady play from Tilley coming down the stretch, including a few impressive up and downs, led to a victory on the 13th green.
“Usually, I feel more nerves over a putt to win the tournament, but like I said I felt calm this afternoon,” said Tilley. “When it came off the putter it just felt great. I knew when I hit it it was going to go in the middle so it was great.”
On a course that demands precision around the greens, Tilley showed poise and creativity throughout the week. During the final, his putting inside ten feet was one of the big differences.
“I played a lot of great golf, but I think my mental game and ability to stay confident was kind of what pushed me through,” said Tilley. “I made a lot of big putts to force someone to halve the hole or for me to halve the hole and that’s what you need in match play, but I think that came from my demeanor.”
The top-seed after stroke play, Tilley showed why he earned the position as he played stellar golf throughout the match play rounds.
“I’ve had a lot of experience in match play and learned that when you’re up you really have to keep the pedal down,” said Tilley. “If you don’t keep the pressure on when you’re playing a good opponent they can come back. I felt comfortable up three and four but I wanted to stay aggressive and keep the pressure on.”
The win for Tilley adds to an already impressive MGA resume, which boasts wins in the 2003 Ike Championship and the 2019 MGA Mid-Am. The 2022 season has already been an incredibly successful year for Tilley, with a win in the 100th Westchester Open at his home club and in the Mittelmark Invitational, held annually at Fenway.
“It’s been a great year,” said Tilley. “Somehow at 39 I feel like I’m still getting better and I’m confident in my game. Winning the Mittelmark here was huge. It’s just a tough course to win on because so much can happen so to come out on top is a great feeling.”
The 39-year-old Tilley made the semifinals of the Met Am in both 2003 and 2004, both times losing to the eventual champion. He says that despite how much time has passed, he still remembers those events vividly.
“I remember a lot of those matches,” said Tilley. “In 2003 I think I was a little too young, I wasn’t ready for that match. In 2004 it was a beatdown against Andy Svoboda. It’s tough to get to the semis, it’s even tough to get to match play. I’m just happy when I got to the finals I could take advantage of it.”
Herzig’s run to the finals started with a disappointing start to stroke play. After a duck hook off the first tee, the rising sophomore at Colgate was 5-over through seven holes. However, he righted the ship and earned the No. 7 seed in match play.
From there, Herzig defeated 100th Westchester Open runner-up Christian Cavaliere of Mahopac in the Round of 16, then took down Lukas Clark of Galloway National in 20 holes in the Quarterfinals. In the Semifinals he defeated Tyler Gerbavsits of Huntington Crescent 5 and 4.
“He’s a great player and to make the finals is a really nice accomplishment,” said Tilley of the 19-year-old Herzig. “I’m 39 and this is my first finals, so he has a bit of a head start. I think he’s going to do a lot of great things for years to come.”
For Tilley, his path included a win over Erik Stauderman of Casperkill, a victory over Matt Lowe of Bethpage and a semifinal triumph over Mark Costanza of Hamilton Farm.
“There’s no easy path in match play,” said Tilley. “The quality of golf around here is so good. I played a lot of tough matches but I think no matter where you look in this bracket there were plenty of tough matches.”
With the win, Tilley now owns victories in two of the three MGA Majors, having won the Ike in 2003. He will have a chance to notch the career MGA Grand Slam when the Met Open heads to Bethpage’s Black Course from August 23-25. Only three golfers have accomplished the feat.
Fenway was hosting the fifth MGA major in its history, previously welcoming the Met Amateur in 1953, while also hosting the Met Open in 1955 and 1969, and last welcoming the Ike in 2007. The course's challenging A.W. Tillinghast greens serve as it's prime defense, placing a premium on the short game and putting, while also demanding players attack the holes from the right portion of the fairway. The Club stands among nineteen MGA member clubs to have hosted all three MGA Majors in its history.
The MGA’s final major of the season will be contested on the famed and fearsome Black Course, as the top golfers in the Met Area compete for the largest purse in Met Open history.