Ben Polland Wins Centennial Met Open in Nerve-Shattering Tie-Breaker

A three-hole aggregate last-man-standing playoff marked the 100th anniversary of the Metropolitan Open, Thursday at Winged Foot GC in Mamaroneck. Deepdale assistant pro Ben Polland lofted the Walter L. Trammell trophy. His bogey on the last playoff hole was enough to edge 2011 Met Open winner Tyler Hall by one stroke.

Polland’s win came on top of three even-par rounds of 70 on Winged Foot’s East Course, where he started the final round three stokes out of the lead. Hall, director of instruction at Upper Montclair CC, launched his bid on the first day with a stellar 67, two strokes behind Ryan Snouffer, this year’s Met Am runner-up. Hall jumped to a two-stroke lead over 17-year-old Dawson Jones, also of New Jersey, on the second day, then bogeyed the 480-yard 18th hole to put himself into the tie with Polland.

The playoff was held on holes 11, 17, and 18. Both players missed the fairway on the first hole, but Polland managed to get up and down to take a one stroke lead. He lost that on the brutal 17th hole when Hall made par with a bullet to the back pin location, while Polland’s tee shot landed short of the green and he missed his par putt. All square going into the 480-yard par four 18th hole, both players hit adrenaline-fueled approach shots over the green. Polland’s short game won the day.

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“This means a lot,” Polland said while looking at the trophy. “There are a lot of special names on there—I feel good to be on it.” Polland’s win came just a few days after he returned from competing in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, a berth he’d won by placing second in the PGA National Championship at Philadelphia’s Cricket Club. The young pro is having quite a season.

Third place went to Andrew Gai of Longshore Country Club with a 212. Defending champion Grant Sturgeon of Winged Foot took fourth with 213. Sleepy Hollow’s Cameron Young tied for fifth at 214 with Burning Tree’s Danny Balin, who won the Met Open in 2012.

Winged Foot’s newly renovated East Course, with its testy par threes and demanding green complexes, held its own in the face of repeated onslaughts by the best golfers in the metropolitan area. While there were seven rounds under the par of 70 the first day, only one was posted on the second—by St. Andrew’s head pro Greg Bisconti. Perfect conditions didn’t ameliorate the final-round pressure as only three players posted red numbers for the day. In other words, no one blew away the course or the field. 

The toughest hole on the course was the brutal par-three 17th hole, which played to a stroke average of 3.7. Interestingly, it’s the only hole on the course without a bunker, although many players wish it had one, since sand would be an easier up and down than from the massive grass depression left of the tiny green. Ike champion Cameron Young was three under for the day and in third place when he stepped to that tee in the final round. A double bogey pushed the young amateur out of contention.

This edition of the Met Open marked the centennial of the event, which was known as a “major” in the early days of professional golf and still commands respect as the leading regional tournament in the game. The trophy carries the names of the greats of the game like Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, and Byron Nelson, as well as Westchester stars including Bobbie Heins of Old Oaks; Mike Gilmore, the current Winged Foot head pro; Pelham’s Mike Diffley; Century’s Frank Bensel; and the 2014 champion, Grant Sturgeon, assistant pro at Winged Foot.  

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