Jun 16, 2010

Daniels, Mattare make Saucon Valley proud in Round of 16 match

 Saucon Valley clubmates 36 years apart in age went head-to-head on Tuesday in the second round of the 110th Amateur Championship with a berth in the quarterfinals at their home club on the line. 

  “Good swing Gar,” was the first thing Matthew Mattare, 24, said to his opponent, Gary Daniels, 60, after the elder’s initial drive.

  The home course seemed to ease any Round of 16 tensions either may have felt in the Association’s most prestigious tournament.

  “It was a definite advantage for me,” Daniels said. 

  Added Mattare, “I absolutely benefited from playing here. I know where to hit it and where not to. I grew up playing golf here, it’s my home.”

  “It’s a classic example of experience versus youth, I had no trouble keeping up,” Daniels said. “I don’t think too much about age.”

  The pair had their own throng of paparazzi. Mattare’s family, including his father Gene Mattare, Director of Golf and General Manager of Saucon Valley Country Club, was alongside him during his endeavor.

  “It was a great amount of pressure at the beginning but once I got comfortable and settled down on about No. 16 yesterday, I’ve been doing well and it’s been money.” Matt Mattare said.

  Starting on the back nine, Mattare made two birdies in the first three holes to go 2-up standing on No. 15 (par 5, 600 yards). Daniels came back, however, winning holes No. 15 (par 5, 600 yards) and No. 17 (par 4, 417 yards) with a birdie and par, respectively, and the two found themselves All Square. Four consecutive pars and a birdie on No. 4 (par 3, 157 yards) followed before a late Mattare surge. 

  “Mattare’s ball was so close to the flag that I thought it was stuck between the hole and the pin,” Robin McCool, executive committee member and a longtime Saucon Valley CC member, said of No. 4. 

  Mattare then won No. 5 (par 4, 475 yards) with a par while Daniels three-putted for bogey. On No. 6 (par 5, 554 yards), Mattare carded another birdie as Daniels could only manage a par, pushing the advantage to 2-up with three to play. Mattare closed Daniels out on No. 7 (par 4, 459 yards) with a two putt for par, from 30 feet. Daniels, meanwhile, failed to get up-and-down from the right greenside bunker. 

  “I only missed three or four greens overall. I just kept the pressure on him all afternoon and kept my foot on the gas,” Mattare said. “It really came down to who blinked first.”

  “I had no trouble keeping up and take pride in being able to somewhat compete against these younger guys,” Daniels, the oldest competitor to make match play this year, said.

  Despite his loss, Daniels still felt satisfied and proud of the way he played.

  “It was a lot of fun and a great experience. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t meet up in a later bracket, but we definitely enjoyed each other’s company,” Daniels said.

  Mattare will be playing tomorrow with someone more his age, 19-year-old Michael Kania of Overbrook GC. They will begin their quarterfinal matchup at 8:07 a.m.

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