Baltimore, MD – Winning both the Middle Atlantic PGA Section Championship and the MAPGA Senior Championship is no small feat. It requires great play for many years in a game that can come and go like the ocean’s tide. There have only been 14 MAPGA Professionals that have done it previously.
This year’s event was hosted at The Elkridge Club. The 6,400-yard Par-71 was a tough test with greens that were rolling like glass. After the first round, it seemed like Jim Estes (Jim Estes Golf) would run away with it. But, these major championships always seem to tighten up at the end.
Jim Estes was by far and away the best player in the first round. His first birdie of the day came at the Par-5 3rd hole but was quickly wiped out by a bogey at the downhill Par-3 4th. Estes didn’t let that slow him down. He made three birdies in a row on 7, 8, and 9 to go out in 3-under 33. He played steady through 15, making all pars. His birdie on the Par-4 16th got him to four under. When he got to the tee at the Par-5 18th, he was looking to add to his 2-shot advantage. His second shot finished 20 feet behind the hole, setting him up with a slick eagle putt. He walked it with dying speed and finished the day at 6-under and four shots ahead of the closest competitors.
There were four players that shot 2-under 69 in round one and had a shot at Estes: David Hutsell (Pine Ridge Golf Course), Ricky Touma (Burning Tree Club), Dick Mast (PGA Life Member), and Brendan McGrath (Hidden Creek Country Club). They knew they would have to play mistake-free golf in the final round to have a chance at catching Estes.
McGrath and Mast made the early move, each making two birdies in their first five holes to get to 4-under par. With Estes making bogey on the Par-4 2nd hole, the lead was quickly down to one shot. Estes bounced back at the Par-5 3rd, after almost holing out for double eagle he made an easy two-putt birdie to get back to where he started.
Mast struggled to keep pace from there, making three double bogies on holes 6, 10, and 13. In the end, he finished strong by birdieing four of the last five to qualify for the Senior PGA Professional Championship.
Hutsell, playing in the final group with Estes, also got his name in the mix with birdies on 5 and 7. Estes made three straight bogies on 6, 7, and 8. McGrath, playing in the second to last group, took advantage and took the lead with a birdie on the Par-3 8th. From there, it was a two-man race between Hutsell and McGrath to see who would win their first MAPGA Senior Championship.
Hutsell joined McGrath at 5-under par when he hit his approach shot to tap in range on the 10th hole. He took the lead for the first time at the 11th with a stellar approach out of the rough to 6 feet that he converted for birdie. A bogey for Hutsell on the 14th hole had them tied again at the top. McGrath drove his ball into the left rough on the long Par-4 15th. His approach left him a tricky chip that he was not able to get on the green. Another chip and two putts added up to a double bogey. Hutsell also struggled on the 15th, hitting his approach shot short. He was not able to get up and down and also gave one back, although he now had a one-shot lead. Hutsell made par on the 16th but three-putted on 17 to bring McGrath back into a tie. McGrath was unable to make birdie at the par-5 last hole, so Hutsell knew he needed a birdie to win. He hit the fairway with his drive and laid up to the perfect number. His third shot hit 20 feet short of the hole, took one big bounce, and checked about 3 feet from the hole. He made the birdie putt to become the 14th MAPGA Member to win both the Senior and Section Championships.
In the 60-69 Division and Quarter Century 60+, John Metzger (PGA Life Member) birdied the last 3 holes of regulation as well as the first playoff hole to beat Glenn McCloskey (Loudoun Golf & Country Club) in a playoff after both tied at +3 after 36 holes.
Brendan McGrath won the Quarter Century 50+ and Roger Hatcher won the 70+ division.
We had 6 players qualify for the Senior PGA Professional Championship that will take place at Twin Warriors & Santa Anna Golf Clubs on October 13-16: David Hutsell, Brendan McGrath, Jeff Combe (Woodmont Country Club), Dick Mast, Rick Schuller (Stonehenge Golf & Country Club) and Jim Estes.
Thank you to Joe Franz and his staff at The Elkridge Club for hosting!