The U.S. Mid-Am was decided by … a pair of roommates?!
Matthew McClean and Hugh Foley had plenty of time to dream together about competing in the final match of the U.S. Mid-Amateur, but they never thought it’d happen, well, together.
Perhaps the first thought appeared to them at the airport in Dublin, where they arrived for their seats on the same flight across the Atlantic. Or maybe it was later, after the two men arrived in Chicago, when they pulled from the rental car lot in the same sedan. Maybe it even came after that, when McClean and Foley left Erin Hills after successful opening matches and returned to home … to their shared rental.
But then suddenly it was Friday night in Wisconsin, and the two roommates were the last competitors standing at the U.S. Mid-Amateur. One of them would become the champ, alright, but it would have to come against the other.
On Saturday afternoon, McClean and Foley — who were close friends before this week — battled it out in the 36-hole match to determine which player would earn an invitation to the Masters (among others) as the U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion. After 35 holes, it was McClean, a 29-year-old optometrist from Belfast, who came out on top, besting Foley, a 25-year-old from Dublin, 3 and 1.
“Sort of probably hasn’t sunk in just yet,” McClean said of the final match. “It’s been a very long week, but I’m sure once we sort of sit down this evening, it’ll sort of sink in a wee bit more, but yeah, it’s unbelievable really.”
It was a slugfest between the two golfers, who combined to make 20 birdies over their 35 holes together on Saturday. Eventually, McClean pulled away, capitalizing on a few Foley mistakes to close out the victory on the 35th hole 3-up.
“It’s tough to sort of beat someone you’re very friendly with and share a lot of time with,” McClean said. “But we’re both obviously going into it with the same intention of we’re going to have a very friendly, good game, and thankfully we both played well, and it came down to two shots over 36 holes in the end, which is next to nothing, really.”
This, of course, came after the steak dinner that preceded their battle on Friday night, and the shared drive to the course on Saturday morning.
“We just chilled out, had some steak and saw that there was a little feature on the Golf Channel,” Foley said. “That was fun, and then it was business as usual. This morning, all good driving together.”
“I think first I’ll probably have to practice quite a bit over the next six months to have a good sort of show of myself there,” McClean said with a laugh. “I don’t think it will really kick in at all, probably not until I get to the event or maybe the practice rounds before.”