With a makeable birdie putt on the 20th hole of match play Wednesday, Slattery hit the ball and vowed not to let his eyes follow it to the hole. Temptation and the stakes were just too great.
“I told myself, ‘Don’t look up, don’t look up, don’t look up,’ and then the first thing you do is look up and watch it go the whole way,” Slattery said. “It might have hit a little bit of a bump but it stayed straight and had enough on it to get there.”
It proved to be a putt worth watching. The birdie on the 20th hole, Slattery’s 38th hole of the day, lifted the Martindale golfer to a semifinal win over Falmouth’s Joe Walp in the Maine Match Play Championship on Wednesday. Slattery advances to Thursday’s championship match against Jeff Cole.
“I had a good look,” Slattery said of his winning putt. “I had a pretty easy putt earlier. I don’t know if it was the same match or if it was against John (Hayes IV) earlier. I had the same putt earlier. So I knew exactly what it did. I just had to hit it.”
Slattery had never reached the second day of the Match Play Championship before this week. After a water-soaked Tuesday, he advanced to the quarterfinals and semifinals. He first had to beat defending Maine Amateur champ Hayes, and then had to outlast Walp, who Slattery edged for the Maine Amateur title in 2014 by a stroke.
“Playing John and Joe in the same day, they’re both excellent players,” Slattery said. “Either one could win any golf tournament they’re in. So it was a long and hard day.”
Against Walp, it was a tight match the entire way. Slattery didn’t have a lead until he sank his 10-foot birdie putt on the 20th hole to win. Walp went 1-up twice, but Slattery managed to even up both times. When Walp bogeyed 14 and Slattery tied, the two were in a stalemate the rest of the way.
“We didn’t miss many shots,” Slattery said. “Neither one of us made many putts. That’s the way it was through 18 holes. Then on 19, we both made birdie finally. We both hit good shots and good approaches and just couldn’t make putts the whole way around.”
The only birdie scored prior to the 19th hole came on the seventh hole. That evened things up for Slattery.
“Throughout the whole day, we had good looks,” Walp said. “Neither one of us made anything until the end. That’s kind of how it happens.”
Walp had a chance to win on the 18th green. His birdie putt stopped on the lip of the cup. He settled for par and the two moved on to the 19th hole.
“That was a little frustrating,” Walp said. “I didn’t hit a really good (approach) shot. I left myself in an awful spot and got away with it. I hit it right in the heart of it. It happens.”
The two matched birdies on the first extra hole. Then Slattery had his 10-foot try at birdie while Walp was about 30 feet away. Walp said he knew Slattery was going to sink the putt.
“We both played steady,” Walp said. “We knew it was going to be a fun match. He’s been playing pretty well, and I’m starting to get it together. It was close the whole way through.”
Walp had advanced with a morning win over Sam Grindle, 5&3. Slattery beat Hayes 3&2.
“Luckily, I made a couple of birdies on the front and got a nice lead,” Slattery said.
In the other morning quarterfinals, Cole beat his Sable Oaks teammate Matt Greenleaf 4-and-2. Luke Ruffin beat Brian Angis 6-and-4.
Cole and Greenleaf were on the Sable Oaks team that won a Club Championship.
“I’ve been swinging really well,” Cole said. “I’ve been hitting the ball well. I felt confident coming in. I know Matty, and I know Matty’s game. You can’t make mistakes against him. You can’t make mistakes against anybody in this field, not in match play.”
In the semifinals, Cole beat Ruffin 6-and-4. He won the second and third holes and was 3-up after the first five. Then he added to the lead with wins on three straight holes on the back.
“I got a lead pretty early,” Cole said. “I almost made two on the second hole. That got me going. My swing felt pretty good all day after that. I was just trying to keep it in front of me from there.”
Cole reached the championship match last year but lost to Ricky Jones. Cole has gone 8-1 over the past two years in the tourney.
“I love match play,” Cole said. “I’ve always felt that I’m a better match play player. I definitely learned a lot playing Ricky last year in the finals — in regards to what to expect. I’m definitely in a better state of mind going into tomorrow than I was last year.”