FLOURTOWN, Pa.-Scott Ehrlich of Meadowlands CC quit his job this summer, hoping to gauge the status of his game. If he had a positive year, the 24-year-old resident of Blue Bell most likely would head to the professional touring ranks on some level.
Match Play Tree | Day One – results | Day Two – results | Day Three – results | Final stats
In the 104th Amateur Championship final on Saturday at Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Militia Hill Course, Ehrlich’s game may have decided his fate. Ehrlich, who graduated from the University of Maryland last May, defeated Michael Tash of Tavistock CC, the defending champion and top seed, 5&4.
“It’s what I was shooting for,” said Ehrlich, who was seeded 23rd after qualifying. “[The J. Wood Platt Championship Trophy] is the best trophy. It’s so big with so many good players on it. I’m just glad my name is going to be on it.”
Tash’s watched his bid to become the 10th ever champion to defend his Amateur title fall short.
“Coming into the tournament I didn’t have a lot of expectations,” said Tash, 42, of Glassboro, N.J. “But the board started going in my direction [as the tournament wore on.] I hit it perfectly on the range this morning and thought I had a real good shot at it. But I struggled when I got out there. That’s what it’s been like this year.”
Ehrlich never trailed in the 36-hole final.
He finished the morning 18 holes 3-up.
In the afternoon, an early Tash surge brought the match back to All Square after four holes. However, two spectacular Ehrlich short game shots in the next two holes proved decisive.
On No. 5 (par 3, 196 yards) Ehrlich’s tee shot buried in the left greenside bunker and Tash’s drive landed 20 yards short. Demonstrating a fearless touch, Ehrlich blasted a lob wedge to inches. Tash’s chip ran through the green and into the back fringe.
“I didn’t even think I could get it out,” said Ehrlich of the bunker shot. “I swung at it as hard as I could.”
On the ensuing hole, No. 6 (par 5, 604 yards), Ehrlich checked his approach from 20 yards out to a foot for a birdie and a 2-up edge.
“I finally got the heat on him at the fifth tee and then he makes that bunker shot,” said Tash. “Then he makes birdie on the next hole. That was a huge momentum swing.”
Ehrlich made the final turn 2-up.
He recorded pars, and victories, on holes Nos. 10 (par 4, 429 yards) and 12 (par 4, 394 yards). On both occasions, Tash three putted.
On the uphill par 5, 14th hole (par 5, 535 yards), Tash’s second shot landed in the hazard.
Tash conceded the match with Ehrlich looking at a birdie.
“I pride myself on not making mistakes and today I made a lot mistakes,” said Tash. “I gave two holes away with those three putts and when a guy is playing solid like he was, you can’t do that.”
Tash seemingly turned the final match around in the blink of an eye early in the afternoon round.
An up-and-down par on No. 2 (par 4, 412 yards) from just short of the green cut his deficit to two holes when Ehrlich knocked his approach shot left, leaving a small finger tree behind himself and the flagstick. He failed to get up and down.
On No. 3 (par 5, 550 yards), Tash found himself with a delicate chip shot 25 yards right of the green in a collection area. Ehrlich’s ball was just short and in the fringe about 25 feet below the hole. Tash, using some creativity, rolled a lofted iron to eight feet and made birdie.
The Tash push continued on the short fourth hole (par 4, 402 yards) with some Ehrlich assistance. A poor drive by a frustrated Ehrlich forced him to chip out of the fescue. Tash found the center of the fairway and green for a par and another win.
However, the match flip-flopped for good on the next hole from the greenside bunker.
Play was ragged for both Ehrlich and Tash in the morning round.
Ehrlich hit only seven fairways and Tash recorded only seven greens in regulation.
“That’s being nice,” said Tash when told of the term ragged to describe his game.
Added Ehrlich, “I never play well early in rounds.”
Ehrlich parred the second (par 4, 412 yards) and fourth (par 4, 402 yards) holes to open the match 2-up. An errant drive on No. 6 (par 5, 604 yards) by Ehrlich coupled with a stellar greenside bunker shot by Tash cut the edge to 1-up. Ehrlich immediately responded, however, with a 2-putt par on the long and difficult 7th (par 4, 462 yards). The hole was playing almost 500 yards into a stiff wind. Tash failed to get-and-down from short right of the green while Ehrlich launched a 19-degree rescue wood to 45 feet.
Ehrlich remained 2-up until No. 12 (par 4, 394 yards), where he made a fantastic par save after his approach shot landed long and right of the flag in the rough. Tash 3-putted from 40 feet. His second putt rimming the hole.
Ehrlich extended his edge to 4-up on the lengthy 15th hole (par 3, 232 yards) but finished the initial 18 holes of the final 3-up after dumping his drive into the right hazard.
Ehrlich is the first Amateur Champion based at Meadowlands CC.
23. Scott Ehrlich, Meadowlands CC, d. 1. Michael Tash, Tavistock CC, 5&4