Monday, December 9, 2013
By TRAVIS LAZARCZYK Morning Sentinel
VASSALBORO - On the first day of the Match Play Invitational, nobody played more golf than Joe Alvarez.
Jack Wyman, left, is congratulated by Ryan Gay, the defending champion, after winning their Match Play Invitational match on the first extra hole Wednesday.
Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal
Ryan Gay blasts out of a trap Wednesday during his first-round loss to Jack Wyman on an extra hole at the Match Play Invitational. Wyman will play Jason Gall in a quarterfinal.
Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal
Alvarez, of Penobscot Valley Country Club, needed 24 holes to beat Mike Doran in the first round Wednesday. In the second round, Alvarez needed 21 holes to defeat top-seeded Ricky Jones. In all, Alvarez played 2 1/2 rounds of golf, 45 holes, on the Natanis Golf Course's Tomahawk course, and he'll be back at it at 7 a.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals.
"I'm exhausted. My legs were cramping at the end," said Alvarez, who walked both of his marathon rounds. "I was just trying to hang on."
Alvarez will face Curt Jordan (Woodlands Club) in the quarterfinals. The other three quarterfinals are Joe Walp (Falmouth Country Club) vs. Mike O'Brien (Sable Oaks Country Club), Jack Wyman (Portland Country Club) vs. Jason Gall (Augusta Country Club) and Johnny Hayes IV (Prouts Neck Country Club) vs. Tobey Buteau (Willowdale Golf Club).
In his first-round match against Doran, Alvarez birdied holes 17 and 18 to force the playoff.
"We just battled for the next six holes," said Alvarez, who won the inaugural Match Play Invitational at the Augusta Country Club in 2010.
Alvarez was 1 up on Jones after 17 holes, but Jones birdied the 18th to force the playoff. It looked like Jones was in command on the second playoff hole when Alvarez pulled his tee shot into the sand to the left of the fairway. Alvarez shot out of the trap and landed approximately 30 yards short of the green, where he chipped to within a few feet of the hole and the par putt that extended the match another hole.
"That up and down was probably the key for me. That was not an easy up and down. Everything was sloping hard to the right," Alvarez said.
"You just have to play one hole at a time. One shot at a time. That's all I was focusing on. I expected those guys to make everything they made, so that makes it easy because you're just ready to go."
On the third playoff hole, Alvarez's second shot landed in a grass bunker to the front left of the green. After Jones chipped from 30 yards to 3 feet from the pin, Alvarez's shot from the bunker also landed 3 feet from the pin.
"I was on the upslope so it made the shot for me a little easier because I could get it up in the air. I just wanted to fly it over the ridge and give myself a putt at it at least," Alvarez said.
Jones missed the short putt, setting Alvarez up for the win.
"I'm not even thinking of the next hole," Alvarez said. "I'm just thinking about that putt."
Gall had two strong matches, beating Erik Fitch 2 and 1 in the opening round before beating Len Cole, 5 and 4.
"I was really consistent this afternoon. I didn't miss a shot, except for maybe one or two," Gall said.
Gall's match against Cole began with some trouble. Gall sent his tee shot on the first hole into the woods to the left of the fairway. But Gall found the ball and made a nice shot to the middle of the fairway to recover.
"I thought it was going to be a long day after that, but I hit it where I was looking and I was really happy," Gall said.
Ryan Gay of Pittston, the defending champion, lost in the first round, losing a playoff hole to Wyman. Winslow natives Matthew Loubier and Kevin Byrne also each lost in the first round, Loubier 7 and 6 to Jones and Byrne to Matt Greenleaf, last year's runner-up, 1 up.
Augusta's Mark Plummer, runner-up to Alvarez two years ago and winner of 13 Maine Amateur titles, lost in the first round to Ashley Fifield, 5 and 3. Chris Hamel of Waterville fell to Hayes in the first round, 2 and 1.