The 2020 WMGA A-Team final was contested today between Argyle CC and Manor CC. Argyle went into extra holes for the second time in the Final Eight and came out on top, beating Manor in a thrilling final.
The matches are played by teams of 12 players, including a club pro. 6 players stay home and 6 go on the road. The pro/amateur teams are designated Match 1 and play at the home course. Each match is worth 3 points, Nassau style – 1 for the front, 1 for the back, and 1 for the 18. Every 1/2 point matters, and a halve or loss of a hole can change the balance sheet very quickly.
At Argyle CC, in Match 1, Argyle Head Pro Kevin Taylor, PGA and Patrick McCormick turned with a 3 up lead over Alex Hoffman, PGA and John Ohly, the front men for Manor. In Match 2, Brandon Cigna and Christian Elliott edged Ryan McCarthy and Terrence Schmutz 1 up at the turn. Cigna, not shy about hitting it long and straight, eagled the 317 yard par 4 fourth when he flew his drive onto the putting green. It landed 3 feet under the hole and came to rest about 5 feet above it. Later in the round he would drive it into the front bunker on the 320 yard 11th and drive it on the green on the 310 yard 14th. Match 3 saw Jack Bonifant and Taso Scilaris go 1 up after nine over Bart Mease and Jim ‘Jumbo’ Castagna. Castagna, 70 years young, while likely the oldest player in the A-Team Matches, may be the most wily, as he is almost never out of a hole.
At Manor, Argyle’s Luke Schaap and Oliver Whitely took a 2 up lead into the turn in Match 4 over Vincenso-Salina-Amorini and Alex Taylor. In Match 5, Brian Simpson and Mark Albus took a 4 uplead into the tenth for Manor over Mike Barillo and Joey Burkinshaw. Match 6, was going Manor’s way until Matt Malits, partnered with Matt Barnes, eagled the 9th to split a point with Dan Falls and David Tachetti.
After 9 holes – Argyle 3 1/2 – Manor 2 1/2
The second nine was a roller coaster for both teams. At Argyle, Hoffman and Ohly battled back against Taylor and McCormick, winning the back 3 up on 17 and squaring the 18 when Ohly birdied. They lost the momentum when they lost the par 3 17th to a par. One down going up 18, they gained a 1 1/2 to 1 1/2 split when they won the final hole with a par. Cigna and Elliott, 1 up at the turn, held onto that narrow margin through the 18th, taking 2 1/2 points for Manor. Cigna made a super par save when he hit his 3rd, from about 90 yards, to 2 1/2 feet. As it turned out, he needed to make it when Schmutz rolled in a five footer to save par from short of the green. In Match 3 Bonifant and Scilaris held off Mease and Castagna by a narrow margin to take 3 points for Argyle.
With text messages, calls, and even some ‘FaceTiming’ going back and forth between the clubs, everyone knew was going on and what was needed for either club to win. Salina-Amorini and Taylor tied the back with Schaap and Whatley to gain a badly needed 1/2 point. With Simpson and Albus in with 3 more points for Manor, taken from Barillo and Burkinshaw in Match 5, the point total stood at 7 1/2 to 7 1/2, with one match left. Match 6, Malits and Barnes from Argyle vs Falls and Tacchetti from Manor, which was tied after nine, was in the hands of the Manor team, which was 1 up with two to go. Seventeen was tied with pars. 1 up with one to go. A tie on 18 and Manor gains 2 1/2 points and the win. Seemingly all over when the Argyle duo could not make a birdie, it came down to 2 feet – 2 feet which the Manor team could not negotiate. A rare and shocking miss, Manor loses the hole and Match 6 and the team total ends up tied, 9 – 9. At Argyle no one could believe it. Fortune once again smiled on their squad as it had a week earlier when they scratched out the points needed to gain a tie on the final hole vs The Cannon Club when Matt Malits sank a 6 foot eagle putt on the last.
After regulation – Argyle 9 – Manor 9
The play-off went off right away. In the A-Team Matches the number one teams, Match 1, comprised of the pro and his amateur partner, play-off. Three of the four tee shots were in the right trees. Ohly and Taylor made bogeys. McCormick, over the green in two, made an excellent up and down to save par and match Hoffman.
Off to the second. An uphill par 5 of 488 yards, the second was easily reachable by the young guns, Hoffman and McCormick. Taylor drove just left of center and placed his second about 90 yards out. Ohly drove left, partially blocked by trees, and hit his second into the trees on the right, about 70 yards out. McCormick, after hitting a lack-luster (for him) slider up the right side, hit what appeared to be a punch hybrid second, which landed just short of the green and rolled up to about 22 feet under the hole. Hoffman, well left, but with an opening, hit a towering iron between two Oak trees. He had hit too far, however, the ball flying the right bunker and coming to rest well over the green. Taylor missed the green with his third and handed off to McCormick, who was now measuring an eagle putt. Ohly’s third came up just short and right of the green and his chip for four ran well past. It was up to Hoffman, but he really had very little chance. The hole, cut close to the back, gave Hoffman almost no margin for anything short of perfection and a lot of luck. He hit a brilliant, soft pitch which landed just shy of the putting surface. But, with the green running away from him, the ball never had a chance to stop, running all the way to the front of the green. His birdie effort was just a bit short and touch off line, leaving the door open for McCormick, who walked through it with a routine two putt for birdie and the win.
It was an exciting finish to a well played A-Team Match season for Argyle CC. This year 22 teams participated where normally closer to 32 play. With COVID-19 guest restrictions in place at many area clubs, a number of teams passed this year. The smaller field, eager to play, played some outstanding matches and it was as competitive as ever. The WMGA thanks the clubs who were able to participate for their support. Even if just for a few weekends, a semblance of normalcy returned to the competitive scene with the playing of the team matches. Congratulations to Argyle CC and all the competing teams!
Final A-Team Results ⇒ HERE
At Argyle CC (Argyle players listed on left)
Kevin Taylor, PGA – Pat McCormick – 1 1/2 – vs – 1 1/2 – Alex Hoffmand, PGA – John Ohly
Ryan McCarthy – Terrnece Scmutz – 1/2 – vs – 2 1/2 – Brandon Cigna – Christian Ellliot
Jack Bonifant – Taso Scilaris – 3 – vs – 0 – Bart Mease – Jim Castagna
Luke Schaap – Oliver Whatley – 2 1/2 – vs – 1/2 – Vincenso Salina-Amorini – Alex Taylor
Mike Barillo – Joey Burkinshaw – 0 – vs – Brian Simpson – Mark Albus
Matthew Malits – Matthew Barnes – 1 1/2 – vs – 1 1/2 – Dan Falls – David Taschetti