MSGA semifinal thriller stole thunder from final


The annual spring team matches of the Maryland State Golf Association always create interest among the competing clubs, and in past years the Baltimore-Washington rivalry only served to heighten the excitement.

Although the teams from the two geographic areas were mixed together this year, the semifinal pairings turned out to be familiar: old rivals Congressional Country Club and Columbia CC in Washington and more recent rivals Chantilly Manor CC and Nassawango CC in the Baltimore area.

Although it sounds funny to say a championship match was anticlimactic, certainly this year's final -- Columbia defeated Nassawango, 11-7 -- paled in comparison to the Columbia-Congressional semifinal. The teams tied 9-9 in the semifinal and the ensuing playoff went five extra holes before assistant professional Jack Skilling made a 12-foot birdie putt for the victory.

The five extra holes constituted a playoff record and is believed to be a record for the matches, a series that dates to 1925.

With the No. 1 teams matched, it was Skilling-Geoff Robertson against Kent Cayce-Pat Tallent. Cayce birdied the second hole at Columbia with a 40-foot putt, only to have Robertson knock in an eight-footer for a half. They halved the next two holes (a Cayce chip shot hit the flagstick at No. 4, and he had to make a six-foot putt to stay in contention) before Skilling finally ended it. The Congressional pair missed their 30- to 40-foot birdie putts ahead of him.

"We played so much better in the playoff than we did in the regular match," Skilling, 32, and in his sixth year at the club in Chevy Chase, said in recalling the situation. "They beat us badly in getting three points, so we wanted to redeem ourselves.

"However, the only other place I remember more pressure was in taking my playing ability test [one of the steps required in attaining membership in the PGA]. In the team matches, though, you are representing your club, and I was more nervous than I've been in a long time."

The set of circumstances that had to come together to even get to a playoff were amazing. Everything that had to happen for Columbia to get the tie did. Except for Skilling-Robertson, the other five matches were not decided until the 18th greens (three pairings at Congressional, three at Columbia).

* In the last two matches at Congressional, the Columbia teams had to birdie the 18th hole to get necessary points. Marty West III made a 40-foot putt and Dan McAndrews made one considerably shorter.

* At Columbia, member Bill Scott had to get up-and-down from behind the 16th green -- no easy task with a green that slopes away -- to keep the match going; partner Glenn Mitchell had to make an eight-foot putt on the last green for a half; and another Columbia member, Ken Foster, needed to hole a seven-foot putt on 18 to guarantee the side two points. "There were all kinds of heroics and everybody had a story to tell," Skilling said.


Michael Sanger of Green Spring will be the defending champion when the annual Poor Robert's golf tournament is held tomorrow (shotgun start at noon) at Bretton Woods Recreation Center in Potomac. . . . The first outing of the year for the Washington chapter of the Executive Women's Golf League will be held Tuesday at Queenstown Harbor Golf Links. Weekly clinics will be offered Tuesdays through June 22. Information is available from Chris McDaniel in Annapolis (410) 269-7551 from Baltimore; (410) 261-2144 from Washington; or (410) 263-2340. . . . Charles Harris-Jack Rites head a full field of 80 teams entered in the annual two-man team championship of the Maryland State )) Golf Association, scheduled for Friday at WestWinds CC. Such is the popularity of the event that officials ceased taking entries two weeks ahead of the deadline. . . . Clifton, Gunderson & Co., a Towson accounting firm, will hold a tournament to benefit Richcroft, Inc., a non-profit organization that helps the mentally retarded. The event will be held May 21 at Geneva Farm GC. Information is available from (410) 785-3274.

This week's schedule

Tomorrow -- Middle Atlantic PGA pro-am, Evergreen CC, Haymarket, Va., 8 a.m.; Poor Robert's tournament, Bretton Woods Recreation Center, noon.

Tuesday -- Women's Golf Association at Chartwell CC, 9 a.m.

Friday -- Middle Atlantic PGA pro-am, Wakefield Valley CC, 8 a.m.; Maryland State Golf Association two-man team

championship, West-Winds CC, Frederick, 8 a.m.

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