Story by Pat Payton | St.Marys Independent Newspaper
Old Guys’ Merlin Malinowski admitted that he didn’t know if he’d ever drink from the Ryder Cup again after last year’s convincing loss to the Young Guys.
But Malinowski and his teammates regrouped this year and took back the Cup with an 18-and-a-half points to 13-and-a-half points victory this past weekend at St. Marys Golf and Country Club.
“Sometimes you wonder if you’re ever going to get that win again,” Malinsowski said as he celebrated with teammates Sunday. “It just makes it that much sweeter to feel it again.”
A couple of key additions to the Old Guys’ team this year were Steph MacNeil and Dan Murrell. The Young Guys squad, meanwhile, had five players competing for the first time in the Ryder Cup competition. But captain Kenny Hutton wasn’t using that as an excuse.
“It was tied after the first day, which was pretty good,” Hutton said. “We lost a few Young Guys to the Old Guys this year, which probably hurt a little bit. Everybody played decent, but the Old Guys played just a little bit better this year.
“As for strategy, we tried to go handicap for handicap; we tried to match up the singles that way. We had five new members on our team, guys who had never played in this before, so it was a good introduction for them. Next year, they’ll have a year’s experience under their belts and they’ll know what it’s all about. But we'll be ready next year,” he added.
This annual event had 16 golfers competing on each team this year. Last year, when the Young Guys won 23-17, there were 20 players on each side – the biggest field ever in the history of the long-running competition.
All square going into singles matches
In the opening round Saturday morning, the Old Guys jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the Better Ball format. However, the Young Guys rallied to tie it 4-4 with four straight wins of their own. A couple of matches were decided on the 18th hole.
“I was a little worried when I saw that we had lost the first four, but the boys grinded back for the last four matches,” captain Hutton said. “It was a good comeback for us.”
In the True Alternate Shots format Saturday afternoon, the two teams again earned four points apiece – leaving the competition deadlocked 8-8 going into Sunday’s all-important singles matches.
In the head-to-head singles, the Old Guys jumped out to an early lead and maintained it – winning the final event 10-and-a-half points to five-and-a-half points. Five matches finished all square, meaning players gained half a point for their respective side.
Winning singles matches for the Old Guys were: Malinowski, MacNeil, Troy Carter, Jimmy Craigmile, Marty Rutledge, Rick Fifield, Bob Hearn and Rich Parsons. Winning singles matches for the Young Guys were: Hutton, Kellen Fifield and Mike Glover.
“The teams were so evenly-matched, with it 8-8 going into the singles matches,” Old Guys' captain Stew Grant pointed out. “I just wanted to give us a chance in all 16 matches, and hope that our veteran experience would pay off in the end.
“Both captains had a spirit of putting together close matches, and that’s what we tried to do today. We didn’t necessarily put our big guns out early, it was just about keeping it even among the pairings.”
The two captains squared off against each other on Sunday. Grant said it felt good to be back on the winning team.
“I was a losing captain for the Young Guys about 18 years ago,” he recalled. “So it feels good to be on the other side of it as captain, and it feels good to get one back for the Old Guys. We didn't want to let the Young Guys get two in a row,” Grant added with a smile.
Ryder Cup notebook:
–Old Guys veterans Bob Hearn and Rich Parsons both went 3-0, and were named co-MVPs of the 2022 event.
–Old Guys’ veteran Jimmy Craigmile praised the condition of the golf course both days. “With the weather we’ve been having, you hit the fairway and you get lots of roll,” he said. “The greens were fast, especially in the morning . . . first rounds. And the pin placements were more than fair. But we’re all human; we hit good shots and bad shots.”
–Next year’s Ryder Cup captains will be Andy Cunningham (Old Guys) and Kyle Heinbuch (Young Guys).
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