Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hyland wins Philadelphia Amateur

Little Mill's Mike Hyland could feel Stephen Hudacek III breathing down the back of his neck; it was as constant as the warm sun darting in and out of the clouds.

Hyland wins Philadelphia Amateur


Little Mill’s Mike Hyland could feel Stephen Hudacek III breathing down the back of his neck; it was as constant as the warm sun darting in and out of the clouds.
“I’m playing like \[expletive\],” the 32-year-old Hyland made sure to tell his caddie after the 28th hole of the 111th annual Philadelphia Amateur Championship at Manufacturers Golf and Country Club in Fort Washington.
He reminded his caddie with the same statement after he bogeyed the next hole and let Hudacek, of Glenmaura National, reduce his lead in the 36-hole match play to just 1-up.
Hyland’s 5-up lead that morning during the first 18 holes was a distant memory.
“I had my victory speech already prepared \[at that point\],” Hyland later joked.
But down the stretch it was Hyland’s experience — including a win in the amateur championship in 2000 — that carried him past Hudacek, as Hyland prevailed 1-up, becoming the 17th player in the history of the amateur championship to have won it twice.
“As you can tell, it means a lot \[to me\], because I started thinking about it when I got 5-up through 14, figured it was my time again and I never thought it would happen again,” Hyland said.
In the morning, Hyland’s 5-up lead entering the 15th hole seemed like a sure thing with the way he was putting. But he three-putted 15, barely avoiding losing that hole, then lost holes 16 and 18, with a three-putt on 18 as well.
His afternoon didn’t look brighter, as Hudacek took advantage of a shaky Hyland to pull within one by the fifth hole — he had won four of the previous seven holes.
“I didn’t think he could play as well as he did all day,” Hudacek said.
Hudacek, a 2009 St.<TH>Joseph’s University grad, made his move just as it seemed Hyland was reaching his breaking point at the 13th hole. Hudacek sank two birdie putts — a 25-footer and a 17-footer — to draw even with four holes to play. The comeback was complete.
For now.
“I kind of thought the whole time, ‘He’s the one who gave up a five-hole lead,’<TH>” Hudacek said. “So even when I got it back to square, I thought, ‘Man, it’s still his match.’<TH>”
The par-5 15th was pivotal. And on the approach, Hudacek ended up left of the green. Hyland was on it.
Hyland birdied that hole and the next to take a 2-up lead.
“That was the one thing that got me through with these college kids all week, was just staying calm and letting them get upset, putting the pressure on them the whole time,” Hyland said.
Walking down the fairway on the 35th hole, Hyland told his caddie he didn’t want to blow the big lead again, as he had done so many times before, and had to watch another person give a speech.
This time, Hyland gave his.
It just came later than he originally thought.

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