MANCHESTER — Matt Henry is never a bad choice when picking a favorite to win a York County Amateur Golf Association event.
The South Hills golfer, however, didn’t look like such a good bet entering Sunday's final round of the 2016 Quality D.O.T. York County Amateur at Royal Manchester Golf Links.
Trailing former West York High School star Josh Rinehart by four strokes entering Sunday's action, Henry started his round with a double bogey on the first hole. That sent the two-time York County Amateur champion to a six-stroke deficit with 17 holes to play.
A win at that point seemed out of the question, right?
Many of the YCAGA golfers carry a bit of an emotional side that might make a big comeback extremely difficult. The cool and steady Henry, however, shrugged off his slow start. He just got right to work doing what he’s best known for — hitting fairways and greens. Henry shot a remarkable 6-under over the next 16 holes to pull off a very memorable rally.
Despite a bogey on No. 18, Henry’s round of 3-under 69 was plenty good enough to capture his third Amateur title after shooting a combined 2-under-par 142 for the tournament. Henry had a 73 on Saturday. Rinehart, who shot a 3-under 69 Saturday, started Sunday 5 over after nine holes, but rebounded to finish second at 2-over 146 after finishing with a 5-over 77 on Sunday.
“I figured I had to play pretty well,” Henry said. “And I doubled the first hole and was like, ‘well, I’m six back … guess I better start playing some good golf.'”
That’s exactly what he did. After making par on No. 2, Henry made the first of his six birdies Sunday on No. 3. After another stretch of pars, he converted birdies on back-to-back holes (No. 8 and No. 9) to move 1-under for the round.
Henry continued his steady play, with pars sandwiching birdies on No. 12, No. 14 and No. 16.
Steve Goodley, who finished third with a 147 after a 76 on Sunday, had actually overtaken Rinehart through the first eight holes of his day. Back-to-back bogeys on No. 9 and No. 10, however, allowed Henry to move ahead.
At that point, it was clear to the field that Henry was the man to beat.
“We saw Matt at the tee on No. 17 and asked how he was doing,” said Bobby Stiffler, who finished in a three-way tie for fourth at 148. “And he said he birdied No. 14 and No. 16, so at that point I knew I was four behind.”
Henry would have loved to close out the event with no worse than a par on No. 18, but he got a little caught up in what makes Royal Manchester such a tough course — he missed the green.
“You have to hit fairways and greens here,” Henry said. “If you’re in the rough, it’s very hard to get up and down here.”
That bit of disappointment aside, Henry was clearly pleased to end his weekend on a high note.
“It was a bit of a struggle,” he said with a bit of a smile. “But I got ‘er done. It’s always nice to win one of these.”
Scott Dobak and Kevin Haag tied with Stiffler at 148, while John Howson finished seventh with a 149.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the complete York County Amateur results, click here.