LITTLESTOWN — As Ray Sheedy was being awarded the York County Amateur trophy on Sunday, he couldn't help but get some goosebumps after being told the long history behind it.
The New Park man hasn't played in many York County Amateur Golf Association events in his life, with this past weekend being just the second time he's played in the organization's most prestigious tournament of the year, which dates back to 1930.
Much like the trophy, however, Sheedy has quite the backstory to his own amateur career. A former NCAA Division I collegiate player at North Carolina-Charlotte, Sheedy has won his fair share of college events, qualified for the match-play portion in three United States Golf Association tournaments, won the Maryland Mid-Am and is a seven-time Carroll County (Maryland) Amateur champion.
Now, he can add the Quality Digital Office Technologies York County Amateur trophy to his collection, after holding off reigning champion Matt Henry and Bob Ruby for the 2017 title at Quail Valley Golf Club, winning with a two-day score of 1-over-par 145. Henry and Ruby both tied for second with 4-over 148s over the two days.
"It means a lot because golf is a game where you don't win a lot," Sheedy said. "...I don't get to play and practice like I used to, so to go out there and get the nerves going, it was just a lot of fun."
Making his move: After shooting a 2-over 74 in Saturday's first round, Sheedy found himself just three strokes behind the leader, Jay Kostenbauder. That was good enough to put Sheedy in the final group of Sunday's round, along with Henry and Kostenbauder.
It didn't take him long to make his move on his playing partners and jump into the lead. By the 12th hole, after Henry and Kostenbauder each bogeyed, a par for Sheedy gave him a two-stroke lead over Henry and four-shot cushion over Kostenbauder.
When Henry birdied the par-4 14th to pull to within two of Sheedy, the turning point of the tournament came on the long par-5 15th. Stretched out to more than 600 yards and with a creek short and right of the green, Sheedy faced about 270 yards for his second shot. Instead of laying up and playing it safe, however, he went for it in two, sticking his 3-wood on the left side of the green. He proceeded to two putt for birdie and regain his three-shot lead.
"It was a little bit of a gamble and I seriously considered laying up," Sheedy said about 15. "But, with how the ball was lying in the fairway, and it was a little bit downwind, it was just, I had to hit it. Matt had just birdied 14, so he got to within two of me at that point and I didn't want him to get any more momentum."
Once Sheedy birdied the 15th and built a three-stroke lead with three to play, it didn't look like anyone was really going to give him a fight for the trophy. He was playing very steady golf and, except for a short par miss on 17 to move his lead back to only two shots, it was smooth sailing much of the afternoon.
Sheedy capped his 1-under-71 round and victory with a birdie on the par-5 18th, although, he had a chance to be a shot better, had it not been for his eagle attempt lipping out.
Other contenders: Kostenbauder ran out of gas down the stretch, bogeying his final four holes to shoot an 11-over 83 for the day and finish at plus-10 overall, tied for 12th.
Ruby fired a 3-under 69, which was the best round of the tournament, to work his way into the tie for second with Henry, who had his second straight 74.
Steve Goodley shot a 2-over 74 to go with his 75 from Saturday to finish solo fourth with a plus-5 score, while Brett Berkheimer rounded out the top five with a plus-6 number.
Recent York Catholic graduate Andrew Forjan finished in a tie for sixth at plus-7, a nice improvement from his first appearance last year, when he finished in a tie for 12th with the same 7-over score.
Looking for more: At 32 years old and the father of two young children, ages 3 and 1, Sheedy doesn't play in YCAGA events often. His only prior start in a YCAGA tournament this year was the Spring Better Ball, so this weekend's event was his first individual tournament of the year.
After enjoying success like he did at Quail Valley over the last two days, however, it would come as a surprise if Sunday was the last time he hoists the York County Amateur trophy.
"I'm probably going to be a York County resident for the next 10-15 years, so I'd like to get a few more," Sheedy said.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com