Brett Williams knew that 7-under-par would be the number to hit at the Men's Mid-Amateur Championship at Blue Mash Golf Course. But as he easily two-putted for birdie on the short, par-5 18th to close with a 66, 6-under looked pretty darn good.
“I figured that would give me a chance,” said Williams, a member at Baltimore Country Club.
He entered the clubhouse with a two shot advantage over the field with just one group left to come in. Only problem was, that group included Ray Sheedy, a bomber from Mount Airy.
Sheedy knew he needed eagle, and after keeping his driver in the bag for the majority of the day, he finally unsheathed it and uncorked one into the neighboring 10th fairway, which was oddly enough a better angle into the pin than had he kept it in his own fairway.
Daniel Walker (College Park), the former leader who had been on cruise control for the first 12 holes, struggled and needed to pick up two shots to force a playoff with Williams. He ripped a drive to put himself in position to reach the green in under regulation, but he yanked his wood into the left greenside bunker, significantly dropping his chances.
Sheedy, far off to the right in the parallel fairway, hit a high, cutting 6-iron to 12 feet. Williams didn't even need to watch the putt.
“I figured I got to expect someone is going to make it,” he said afterwards.
There was never any doubt about it. Sheedy, whose had trouble with his putts all day, rolled it in the heart of the cup for his second eagle of the side to force a sudden-death playoff back to the first hole.
And again, he put himself in striking distance, flipping a wedge to 15 feet while Williams had an outside chance at a 25-footer. And again, he buried it, chasing it in with a fist pump and a charged up yell.
“I play a lot of break on my putts and they weren't going in,” Sheedy said afterwards with the silver Mid-Am trophy in hand. “I tightened up the lines and just hit 'em a little harder, a little firmer.”
Sheedy thought he hit a perfect putt on the par-3 17th but missed by a good four inches. His birdie try on the 14th didn't slide quite enough either and his putt on the 16th burned the edge. But the combined 27 feet he had on the 18th and first playoff hole were true every inch.
“I've been really, really wanting to win something,” he said. “It's been a long time coming, man. I haven't won in forever.”
The 26th Mid-Am champion was in the final group last year but scraped together an 80 to put himself well out of contention. With Williams and Walker in the field, an 80 wouldn't do. Williams missed just two greens all weekend and finished on 21 consecutive bogey-free holes.
“I did what I could,” he said. “I mean, eagle-birdie to finish. What are you going to do? It's great stuff, great stuff.”