Match Play Tree | Day One – results | Day Two – results
FLOURTOWN, Pa.-Michael Tash of Tavistock CC is forthright and honest when speaking of his game and its current state. At anywhere and at any point, the 42-year-old Glassboro, N.J. resident isn’t afraid to offer a commentary on the good, bad and ugly of his golf game.
Four rounds into match play of the 2004 Amateur Championship and Tash’s state of the game address speaks for itself. The 2003 champion advanced into Saturday’s 36-hole final on Wednesday and will face Scott Ehrlich of Meadowlands CC. The championship match is set for Saturday at 8 a.m. at Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Militia Hill Course.
“Absolutely. Ecstatic is a good word,” said Tash, when asked about looking to be the first to defend an Amateur title since Chris Lange of Overbrook GC did so in 1993-94. “It would be the highlight of my golfing career. Especially, doing it at age 42.”
In the semifinals, Tash upended Frank McFadden of Overbrook GC, 3&2, and Scott Ehrlich of Meadowlands CC stopped Dan Walters of Philadelphia Publinks Golf Assoc., 1-up.
It’ll be Ehrlich’s first Amateur final.
“My goal was to make match play and make the Philadelphia Open,” said Ehrlich. “I did that. We’ll see what happens Saturday.”
Tash advanced into the championship draw on a similar game he sported a year ago – solid ball striking and clutch putting. It’s something Tash, who works in financial services, has been waiting to return ever since his exploits of a year ago. Although, he still said that game hasn’t fully returned.
“I made a good swing on the third shot of the sixth hole in the semifinal with a driver off the deck and my confidence kind of came back,” said Tash. “It was the best I felt in the tournament.”
Early on, Tash birdied No. 3 (par 5, 553 yards) and parred No. 4 (par 4, 400 yards) to take a 2-up advantage. A good up and down with that driver from the fairway on No. 6 (par 5, 600 yards) for a half and a run-of-the-mill two putt on No. 7 (par 4, 448 yards) coupled with a McFadden bogey – he failed to get up and down from the left greenside bunker – extended his lead to three. On the eighth hole, a devilish par 4 measuring 407 yards, McFadden and Tash eyed makeable birdie chances. Tash drained his left to right sweeping 12 footer. McFadden watched his slip to the low slide.
Tash made the turn 4-up.
“After [the front nine] I wanted to make a bunch of pars and force him to make birdies,” said Tash, the top seed by virtue of last year’s championship.
On the inward nine, Tash dropped No. 10 (par 4, 429 yards) with a poor chip, but recovered to win No. 12 (par 4, 394 yards) with a birdie three. He rifled a 9-iron from 142 yards to seven feet.
A resilient McFadden recorded back-to-back birdies on Nos. 14 (par 5, 535 yards) and 15 (par 3, 230 yards) to slice the deficit to 2-down, but a par by Tash on the 16th hole (par 4, 398 yards) secured the victory.
“This was my first time getting past the quarterfinals [He made the quarters three times prior without advancing]. It was something I really wanted to do,” said McFadden, 54, of Newtown Square, Pa. “I got a tip from [clubmate] Andy Thompson [on turning through the ball better] and I was starting to hit the ball good. For the most part I accomplished what I wanted to. It would have been nice to make the final.”
McFadden entered match play as the 28th seed.
In the other semifinal, Ehrlich was dialed in.
He hit his first eight greens in regulation, but Walters got up and down five straight times on the front side’s final five holes to stay alive.
Ehrlich, 24, of Blue Bell, Pa., made the turn 1-up.
“He was making a lot of saves, but I wasn’t capitalizing on my birdie opportunities,” said Ehrlich. “I had a ton of putts from 15 to 18 feet, but couldn’t get any to drop.”
Ehrlich moved two ahead with a par on No. 10. He registered a par from 20-feet away while Walters went long, left and failed to get up and down.
Walters started a comeback with a par on No. 13 and a birdie No. 14. A par on the long par 3 15th gave him a 1-up edge. In that stretch, Ehrlich registered three straight bogeys.
“My swing was getting tired,” said Ehrlich, who entered match play as the 23rd seed.
But Ehrlich regained his composure and took No. 17 with a par before the two entered the uphill, par 4 (426 yards) 18th All Square.
A bad swing on the tee by Walters, 20, of Lancaster, Pa., watched his drive go into the hazard.
Ehrlich’s approach shot landed short, but managed to record a bogey. Walter’s bogey chance lipped out.
Walters was the No. 3 seed.
1. Michael Tash, Tavistock CC, d. 9. Roc Irey, Cedarbrook CC, 1-up – Tash, the defending Amateur Champion, needed 17 holes before earning his first lead of the match and defeating Irey, 1-up. Tash was 3-down after six holes and squared the match at two other points with birdies on No. 11 (par 3, 165 yards) and No. 14 (par 5, 535 yards). A par on No. 17 (par 5, 581 yards) and an Irey bogey produced the end result.
8. Frank McFadden, Overbrook GC, d. 13. Sean Seese, Huntingdon Valley CC, 2&1 – McFadden’s shot making resulted in some easy birdies and a 2&1 victory over Seese. McFadden was 1-up after 13 holes, but recorded tap-in birdies on No. 14 (par 5, 535 yards) and the difficult 15th (par 3, 230 yards) to seal his fate. He clinched the match with a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 17 (par 5, 581 yards).
23. Scott Ehrlich, Meadowlands CC, d. 2. Mike Lebow, Spring Ford CC, 3&2 – Ehrlich netted a birdie on No. 3 (par 5, 553 yards) and a hole-clinching par on No. 5 (par 3, 196 yards) to take the lead for good. The highlight of the contest came on No. 13 (par 5, 480 yards). Lebow, 3-down at the time, knocked in a 60-yard chip for eagle. Ehrlich responded by holing out his bunker shot for a three and a half.
3. Dan Walters, Philadelphia Publinks, d. 27. Billy McCrossan, The Springhaven Club, 3&1 – Walters turned a close match his way with a pair of pars and birdies in the final four holes. Walters was 2-up after six holes, but McCrossan brought the match back to All Square on No. 9 (par 3, 240 yards). That where the match stood until the 14th hole.
1. Michael Tash, Tavistock CC, d. 28. Frank McFadden, Overbrook GC, 3&2
3. Scott Ehrlich, Meadowlands CC, d. 3. Dan Walters, Philadelphia Publinks, 1-up
1. Michael Tash, Tavistock CC, d. 9. Roc Irey, Cedarbrook CC, 1-up
28. Frank McFadden, Overbrook GC, d. 13. Sean Seese, Huntingdon Valley CC, 2&1
23. Scott Ehrlich, Meadowlands CC, d. 2. Mike Lebow, Spring Ford CC, 3&2
3. Dan Walters, Philadelphia Publinks, d. 27. Billy McCrossan, The Springhaven Club, 3&1