HUNTSVILLE— The Ontario Men’s Match Play Championship came to a close on June 10 from the Grandview Golf Club in Huntsville. It is one of the most difficult titles to win as by the time the final two players had finished the final round, they had each played a total of six rounds of golf.
Heading into the final match the title came down to Port Perry’s Jake McNulty and Woodbridge’s Phil Arci. Both players had battled through a tough field and put on a good match in the final.
Arci, 25-years-old from Caledon Woods Golf Club, got out to an early lead in the match but McNulty, 21, answered thanks to a nice recovery shot out of the sand on the fifth, which led to a birdie. Arci would regain his lead on the sixth hole but it was short lived as McNulty drained a long birdie putt on the seventh to even the match. McNulty’s putter continued to be the difference as he sunk another birdie putt on the eighth hole to go 1up. Then, after Arci’s chip shot went long on the ninth, McNulty was able to hit another putt to take a 2up lead heading to the back nine.
Things kept to go McNulty’s way on the back nine. He moved 3up after Arci double bogeyed the 10th and then McNulty birdied the 12th to go 4up. A bogey on the 13th by Arci put him in a huge hole, as McNulty was 5up with five to play. However, Arci wouldn’t go down without a fight. He pared the next two holes while McNulty bogeyed both and was still in the match. However his comeback would end on the 16th as both players made par to split the hole, giving McNulty the 3&2 win for the championship.
“I was pretty darn nervous heading to 16!” said McNulty after the match. “But being 5up, with five to play, it gave me a little room and meant I could have two bogeys.”
McNulty also spoke about the grind that winning the championship was. “It is a good win. It is a gruel going through six matches. I felt like my game was pretty good throughout the tournament even though I was down at one point in five of my six matches. It feels good to win because I haven’t played particularly well in the last couple years. It is nice to get one early in the year and be able to look forward to more tournaments.”
For McNulty, his road to the final began with win over Waterloo’s Aaron Jenkins 4&3. McNulty had a tighter match in the second round but escaped with a 1up win over Burlington’s Kristopher Kowalchuk. He moved on to defeat Markham’s Colton Wyllie 3&1 in the third round. He knocked out London’s Jeff Crowe in the quarter-finals 3&1 to advance to the semis. In the semi-finals, McNulty defeated Waterloo’s Matt LeMay 3&1 to punch his ticket in the final.
Arci’s road to the finals began with a 6&4 win over Burlington’s Jason Fitzgerald. He moved on to defeat Kleinburg’s Justin Longo by a score of 4&3 in the second round. Round three saw perhaps one of the biggest upsets in the event as Arci knocked out two-time defending champion Woodbridge’s Dave Bunker 3&2. Arci took care of Aurora’s Marc Casullo in the quarter-finals 2&1, moving him to the semi-finals. Arci matched up with Oakville’s Scott Banks and defeated him by a score of 3&1 to book his spot in the final.
For full tournament information, including round by round results, see the tournament page at: https://gao.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/gao16/event/gao1624/index.htm
The Golf Ontario would like to thank Clublink and Grandview Golf Club for hosting the Ontario Men’s Match Play Championship. Thanks also to the Golf Ontario volunteers who make these events possible.
About the Ontario Men’s Match Play Championship
Established in 1986, the Ontario Men’s Match Play Championship is contested annually and features 64 of Ontario’s best amateur golfers that have qualified through one of five qualifying tournaments held earlier this season, or who have gained an exemption into the event. Notable former champions include Ontario Golf Hall of Fame member Ian Leggatt, David Hearn, David Byrne and Dave Bunker.