Keegan Plays Lights Out to Capture Mid-Am Title
New Hartford, N.Y. – Patrick Keegan played lights out through the final forty-five holes of competition with one of the best performances the NYS Men’s Mid-Amateur has seen in 34 years of running the championship.
33-year-old Keegan, began the tournament with five bogeys on his first nine holes (he started on #10), but found something special in his game and was 10-under throughout the rest of the championship, with only one bogey in each of the final two rounds.
“I felt very comfortable on the greens the last two days which I did not feel in the opening round,” said Keegan.
He walked up to the first tee this morning and joined Kyle Downey and Darin Goldstein in the final pairing. He began with a two-stroke lead, with the others tied at 2-under, and never gave it up during his march to victory, finishing at 6-under 207.
Nobody else even posed a threat during the final round. “I knew that nobody was within five shots of me that wasn’t in my group,” he said about the advantage.
He set the tone early with a birdie on the par-4 second hole and extended his lead to three strokes. By the sixth hole, he was four strokes ahead of Downey and six over Goldstein.
Keegan went for the green in two from the fairway on the 504-yard par 5, and a fortuitous hop helped Keegan avoid a potential slide. “It was definitely a fortunate second shot there. I had what I thought was a good yardage,” he said about his ball skipping across the pond and landing safely on the other side. “I was almost at cruise control at that point. I hit every green and wasn’t putting any stress on myself. That was my wake-up call.”
On the same hole, Goldstein placed a gorgeous second shot only a few feet from the flagstick and knocked down a much-needed eagle to push him back into contention. Downey, initiated a three-hole birdie run and pressed to within a stroke heading to the ninth tee.
“My eyes started to open wide, especially knowing the next two were par 5s. “I had a good drive on nine, but didn’t get up and down for birdie. Then hit it in the trees on ten. It was an opportunity that was lost…it happens,” Downey mentioned.
On the eleventh, something magical happened. “I chipped in again on eleven. I could not have hit it any better, it was actually a harder shot than yesterday,” referring to his chip-in on the same hole yesterday afternoon, a 224-yard downhill par-3 with a Biarritz green (a green that features a deep gully bisecting its middle, running from side-to-side).
“That’s when he sort of buried us,” said Goldstein, as Keegan’s lead rose again to three shots over Downey and Goldstein with seven to play.
Keegan had one minor slip down the stretch on the downhill, par-3 #12, but continued his steady play through the finish with only pars the rest of the way to secure the title.
“It was a little overwhelming. I was still kind of in shock,” said Keegan about his emotions after sinking his final putt on the 18th. “I’m just glad I could get it done. I’ve never been anywhere close to this kind of position in a big tournament before. To have my one chance and get it done is pretty satisfying.”
Goldstein, of Noyac Golf Club, finished even with par at 213 to claim runner-up honors. He battled with third place finisher, Devlin Walsh of the NYSGA eClub – Mid Hudson, to capture the second spot.
“Once he had a solid lead I was looking at where second would fall,” Goldstein said referring to Keegan’s score down the stretch. “I’m very happy where I finished. It was a great week and I’m looking forward to next year.”
Walsh bogeyed the eighteenth hole to finish one stroke behind Goldstein at 214 and take third. “This is some of the best golf I’ve played in a long time. I’ve never really been in contention in something at this level. It was a new experience and a great experience,” he said about the week.
Downey, of Locust Hill Country Club, who’s good friends with Keegan, put together a string of bogeys from thirteen through eighteen to finish in the fourth spot (215). “I had to take some chances at the end but it was a tough fit for my eye,” he said referring to Nos. 13, 14 and 15. “I’m really happy for him, he played phenomenally this weekend. It was really great to see.”
The two were, by coincidence, paired together in the second and third rounds and it gave them both some probably much-needed comfort, but also sparked some competition. “We’re 100 percent competitive in anything we do,” Downey said about their friendship.
Keegan will bring a third and final state title home to Locust Hill Country Club for the 2017 season. In July, fellow club member Jude Cummings captured the NYS Boys’ Junior Amateur at Seven Oaks Golf Club in an enthralling four-hole playoff. In August, Adam Condello won a historic title in the 95th NYS Men’s Amateur Championship in its first return to Long Island in half a century, at the formidable Bethpage Black Course. Now, in September, Keegan makes it a trifecta, with an impressive victory at the founding site of the NYSGA, Yahnundasis Golf Club, while tying a Championship record in the process. His second-round 66 (tied with Condello for lowest single round score in Mid-Am).
“I already heard from our head pro and assistant pro, they’re thrilled and want to put my trophy in the pro shop next to Adam’s trophy. It’s pretty awesome. I’ve never gotten out of the semifinals in the club championship at Locust Hill, so that should tell you the quality of players we have out there,” he said while mentioning fellow member Stu Harris’s runner-up finish in last week’s Men’s Senior Amateur at Crag Burn GC and Downey’s play this week at the championship.
The top-20 players and ties earned exemptions into next year’s championship which will be held at Buffalo area’s Wanakah Country Club from September 28-30, 2018.
The top-5 and ties earned exemptions into the 96th NYS Men’s Amateur Championship at Irondequoit in Rochester, scheduled from August 7-9, 2018.