There was a time, midway through Sunday morning, when York War of the Roses captain Bob Meckley didn't feel very good about his team's chances at Regents' Glen Country Club.
In six of the 12 individual matches, the Yorkers were trailing rival Lancaster at the halfway point. In a few of those matches, such as Bill Brenner's, Jeff Poet's and Gary Stewart Jr.'s, the home team golfer was behind by two or more holes. But, as Meckley pointed out, golf has a way of allowing things to turn around very fast. And it did.
Stewart rallied from a 4-down deficit after eight holes against Lancaster's Gregg Hostetter to earn a 2&1 triumph, while Poet and Brenner each battled back to earn half points. Those two points proved pivotal in helping the York team downed the Red Rose team, 71/2-41/2, in Sunday's singles action. That enabled the White Rose team to an overall 14-10 victory in the Ryder Cup-style format.
"Golf is a funny game," Meckley said. "You have nine to go and you never give up. And that's what happened. I was out there watching on the 13th hole and every match that came through, the first seven we were losing. And I said, 'oh, my gosh.' But we were close in some of them and I knew we had a chance."
Stewart's comeback was perhaps the turning point of the morning. All signs pointed toward a quick and decisive victory for Hostetter when that duo approached the final 10 holes.
"When I went down four after eight, I was thinking 'this was going to be a 7&6 or a 6&5," he said. "I was thinking, 'how can I keep it going?'"
When the lead grows to be as large as the one Hostetter had against Stewart, the pressure is strangely applied back on the leader to put away the match. Sometimes that happens, as in the cases of York's Steve Goodley (3&2) and Bobby Stiffler (5&4), but on a handful of occasions Sunday, the pressure caused trouble, according to York's Jeff Poet.
"The thing about match play is that for the guy that is leading, it's hard to finish it off," Poet said. "There's more pressure on the player trying to win the match than on the guy who's playing from behind. If you're behind, you're probably thinking, 'hey, I already probably lost the match.' And the guy that is ahead is probably thinking, 'ah, I don't want to screw this up and lose it.' Then, all of a sudden, he does it."
Stewart, who shot 6-under par over the final 10 holes, started to feel things shift in his favor on No. 13, when he hit the pin with his approach.
"All of a sudden I started to build some momentum and he started to level out," Stewart said. "I hit the flag on 13 and I think that really changed the match. I hit the flag and ended up really close and ended up winning the hole."
Poet found a way to come up with an even more remarkable comeback against Ken Phillips, who was 3-up with three to go. Poet won all of the remaining holes to get back to all-square.
"In my case, my opponent made a couple of bad shots and gave me a chance to get back into the match," Poet said.
Poet, who won the York County Amateur Golf Association Senior Championship a few months ago, didn't hold out much hope of turning his match around.
"I'm three down with three to go," he said. "I'm basically (at the point) where I just want to go in, have two beers, and come back out to watch. I mean (I was thinking) that I already lost. And I'm upset at myself because, it's my home course and I should be able to get York a point on my home course."
In a matchup of legends from each side of the Susquehanna River, Brenner trailed King Knox by three after 14 holes. Much like Poet, Brenner pulled off a stirring comeback by claiming the final three holes to get to all-square.
Meckley has a very good relationship with Brenner -- the two have found themselves to be frequent opponents over the years. And he was happy that one of his captain's picks didn't let him down.
"Bill and I go back a long ways and I wanted him on the team at least one more time and it worked out," Meckley said.
The contest was finally decided on No. 17 when York's T.J. Ostrom halved the hole against Corey Wenger to claim a 2-up victory. That earned York, which needed six points Sunday to claim the overall victory, the clinching point.
Perhaps the biggest standouts for York over the weekend were Stiffler and Goodley. That duo played together on Saturday to earn full points in the better-ball and alternate-shot formats before each earned resounding triumphs in singles matches Sunday.
"It was the first time that they ever played together," Poet said. "But they play good together."
Stewart wrapped up the day by summarizing the emotion for the Yorkers, who earned the team's third victory over the past four years.
"It was exciting," he said. "I'm proud of our team and we did really well. (Lancaster), for the most part, is a lot younger than we are and they're really talented. So I'm really proud of how we all played this weekend."
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.
WAR OF THE ROSES
At Regents' Glen Coun try Club
Craig Kliewer (L) def. Ed Knoll, 4&3.
Jeff Poet (Y) vs. Ken Phillips, halved.
Bill Brenner (Y) vs. King Knox, halved.
Cary Walton (Y) vs. John Barry, halved.
Mike Burkhart (L) def. Dan Wolfe, 1-up.
Chris Fieger Sr. (L) def. Bob Ruby, 5&4.
Brad Markey (Y) def. Rick Wise, 3&2.
Gary Stewart Jr. (Y) def. Gregg Hostetter, 2&1.
Steve Goodley (Y) def. Andy Zook, 3&2.
Bobby Stiffler (Y) def. Bixton Albert, 5&4.
Matt Henry (Y) def. Craig Hornberger, 1-up.
T.J. Ostrom (Y) def. Corey Wenger, 2&1.
Saturday's partner results: York 61/2, Lancaster 51/2.
Sunday's individual results: York 71/2, Lancaster 41/2.
Overall: York 14, Lancaster 10.