May holds on to win 58th Annual Northeast Amateur Invitational

Becomes first Baylor golfer to take title after losing five-shot lead

Story by Dalton Balthaser; Photos by Rich Dionne
Posted 6/24/19

EAST PROVIDENCE — Once Garrett May reached the fifth tee, the five-shot lead he worked so hard to build was gone.Not because someone caught him, but because he had made more mistakes in those …

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May holds on to win 58th Annual Northeast Amateur Invitational

Becomes first Baylor golfer to take title after losing five-shot lead

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — Once Garrett May reached the fifth tee, the five-shot lead he worked so hard to build was gone.
Not because someone caught him, but because he had made more mistakes in those first four holes than he had in the previous 56 holes combined.
A double bogey at No. 3 (par 3, 136 yards) and a triple bogey on No. 4 (par 4, 432 yards), after hitting his tee shot out of bounds, reduced his lead to only a share instead of the commanding one he had held all week.
“After I lost the five-shot lead, I was reeling,” said May. Then I thought to myself that I was still tied for the lead and they hadn’t given the trophy to anyone else yet. I just dug in and said ‘we are going to be patient and we are going to do this.’ My lead was gone and I needed to move forward.”
Despite a final-round 74, May used his tremendous grit, willpower and determination to claim a wire-to-wire victory in the 58th Northeast Amateur Invitational, June 22, at Wannamoisett Country Club (par 69, 6,760 yards). He’s the first golfer from Baylor University to win the Northeast Amateur.
His 72-hole total of 269 (7 under) was good enough for a two-shot victory over 28-year-old Stewart Hagestad of Newport Beach, Calif,. and 22-year-old Scott Stevens of Chattanooga, Tenn.
Disheveled and angry, May was looking for almost anything to help him get back on track. He was 5-over through eight and lost. But then a loud horn blew.
Players were escorted off the course due to lightning in the areas surrounding Wannamoisett. Play was halted at 2 p.m. and delayed for two hours.
“When officials first sounded the horn I was really upset because I didn’t want to come off the course because I was agitated,” said May, 22, of Texarkana, Texas. “But when I got around some of the guys and chilled out a little bit, I realized it was exactly what I needed. It allowed me to reset.”
That time proved invaluable for May who regained control of the lead after an unlikely birdie at No. 11 (par 4, 402 yards). He canned a 30-footer that put him back in front.
“The turn of the round was when I made my putt on No. 11,” said May. “It was a terrible lie on the fringe and was up against a clump of grass. I had to chop down on the putt and all I wanted to do was get the speed right. That turned the corner for me because Scott [Stevens] missed his birdie. All of a sudden I had a lead again and that gave me the confidence I needed to get away from thinking I was behind the 8-ball.”
He regained a four-shot lead after a birdie on No. 14 (par 4, 374 yards). He hit a 9-iron from 160 yards to two feet to get to 9-under-par.
After a nifty up-and-down on No. 16 (par 4, 447 yards) from the thick rough short and left of the green, May had a four-shot lead going to the par 5, 17th (519 yards).
After losing a five-shot lead, there was no way he was going to make it close again, right?
Wrong.
After hitting his tee shot into the left rough, the prudent play would be to lay up and eliminate disaster. But he stayed aggressive, maybe too much so, and hit his 4-iron out of bounds.
“I was thinking I needed to push that 4-iron up to the front of the green to make an easy par or birdie,” said May. “I did the one thing you couldn’t which was let the club turn over. It was so uncalled for and stupid. I was steaming afterward.”
Luckily for May, the best score in the clubhouse was Hagestad at 5 under but his playing competitor Stevens had just birdied No. 17 to get to 6 under, one shot back.
“Once Garrett hit it out of bounds, I knew I could have a chance if I made birdie,” said Stevens. “I had a chance to win at the end of the day when it might have looked like I might not have.”
After finding the fairway on No. 18 with his drive, he hit a pitching wedge from 144 yards to 25 feet and two-putted for the win because of Stevens’ bogey at the last.
Relieved and ecstatic, May reflected on the week that was and how this week was life changing in a number of ways.
“I am so humbled by winning this event,” said May. “It makes me wonder if I belong with this great group of champions. I am extremely grateful and proud. I am so stoked about it. This is the biggest win of my career for sure.”
May’s high school golf coach at Texas High, Jay Brewer, passed away a couple of weeks ago due to a pulmonary embolism. This week turned out to be a great way for May to honor one of his idols in the game.
“He would have been really proud of how I played,” said May. “He always did a great job of simplifying the game for me. If he were out here watching in-person today, he would have told me to chill, hit the ball and find the ball. He would have been proud of my attitude and how I kept my mind in it. I am proud to win for him.”
Tourney notes
The cutline fell at 7-over-214. A total of 64 players made the cut after the field was trimmed to low 60 and ties after the third round.
Patrick Welch, of Providence and entering his sophomore season at Oklahoma, was the low local at 4-over for the tournament. Former state amatuer champ Bobby Leopold was 5-over and Davis Chatfield, like Leopold who plays out of Wannamoisett and junior at Notre Dame in the fall, finished at 7-over. Locals Jeff Giguere, Tyler Cooke and Chris Roloff failed to make the cut.
Northeast Amateur Chairman Ben Tuthill issued a release to clarify circumstances surrounding the withdrawal of former NFL quarterback and NFL on CBS lead commentator Tony Romo from the tournament after the 15th hole in third round, noting it had to do with a serious back injury that has been troubling Romo for some time.
“Tony Romo has been battling back issues and tried his hardest just to finish today but could not. I know first hand how much pain he was in. We greatly appreciate his participation and for being a true gentleman. We look forward to welcoming him back in the future,” said Tuthill.
Hagestad won the Joseph Sprague Award for low Mid-Am for the third consecutive year. Hagestad came to Wannamoisett fresh off playing in his third consecutive U.S. Open at Pebble Beach where he missed the cut.
“I love this tournament and everything about it,” said Hagestad. “This is a very East Coast, old-school, golf course. While pars may not win you the tournament, they are still a good score. For a shorter golf course, it has a lot of teeth.”

— East Providence Post and eastbayri.com staff photographer Rich Dionne shot the accompanying gallery of photos.

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