NORWICH – Tom Ryan and his nephew Matt were hiding far down on the leaderboard Saturday at the Canasawacta Country Club member-guest tournament. They came out seeking on Saturday...seeking birdies.
The Ryans, buried near the bottom of the 12-team Masters Flight, completed the greatest comeback victory since the inception of stroke play to capture the 48th annual event.
“We were thinking about new blood winning this tournament, and these two were not a part of that new blood we were thinking about,” admitted C.C.C. head professional David Branham. “This was about as popular win as any team in this tournament.”
Languishing at even par after two rounds and tied for eighth out of championship dozen, all eyes were fixed on leaders Mike Branham and Bob Branham, who were bidding for a second title in three years. Also, the pairing of Tim Carson and Scott Seiler appeared a strong favorite just one shot behind the Branhams, while 2004 champions Doug Wilson-Joe Gutosky, and up-and-comers Tom Muserilli-Mike Conklin had realistic shots at a title with only three strokes to make up.
None of the aforementioned teams made a real dent in their scorecards, and only Wilson-Gutosky managed to hold at even par through the first nine holes.
Meanwhile, several groups ahead, the Ryans were collecting birdies like a squirrel collects nuts. After scrambling for par on the first hole, Matt stuck his wedge to 30 inches on the par-three second for the first of the team’s nine birdies on the day. Birdies followed on the third, fifth, and six holes until a slip-up bogey on seven. Still, the team regrouped quickly as Tom birdied the eighth hole. It was the type of beginning to the final round they could only have dreamed about.
“We’re were talking the night before with Kenny Stewart, and said, ‘what do we have to lose?’ Let’s go out and shoot a low number; you never know what will happen.” Tom Ryan said.
The progress this pairing made in just three years together is startling to say the least. The first season the duo fell short of the Masters flight. Last year, after an opening-round 66, the two shared the first-round lead and went on to finish fifth. Saturday completed the upswing.