Merriott wins first major EDGA title with match play victory
Jon Merriott seized two valuables at Lawrence Park Golf Club on Sunday.
The first was Anna Merriott. The 3-year-old snuggled into his father’s arms moments after the conclusion of the 49th annual Erie Marquette Savings Bank District Golf Association match-up tournament.
The second was the crystal trophy that EDGA President Dave Hewett traditionally presents to the last tournament champion.
That winner was Merriott. The 2003 cathedral readiness graduate never followed Alex Weir on the last 11 holes of the match play final against Alex Weir, but had yet to complete the 18 for his victory to 1 over Father’s Day.
Merriott’s immediate family, including his wife Amy, and some other members of Lawrence Park were among the first to congratulate the first champion of an EDGA major.
“I couldn’t ask for a better Father’s Day,” Merriott said. “I have to watch Mickey Mouse with my daughter, hit some putts in my basement, then relax. Then I came here and did it.
Merriott, 36, was victorious as the tournament’s third seed. He denied Weir, 31, the chance to become the lowest seed (17th) to win a match play since Rob Nicotra (27th) in 2006.
Weir, a former Kahkwa Club assistant who briefly competed on the West New York PGA Tour, and Merriott shared a golfing history before Sunday. They teamed up on a quest to qualify for the 2020 USGA Four-Ball tournament.
Weir admitted playing his golf friend in a one-on-one format was difficult.
What got worse, however, was seeing Merriott consistently and precisely outdo him throughout the final.
“It’s tough mentally when your competitor hits as well as him,” Weir said. “Jon just played awesome. He’s a good guy and he deserved to have one.
The turn was the decisive stretch in Merriott’s victory. He won the eighth, ninth and 10th holes at Lawrence Park with birdies, then the 11th when he registered a par four on Weir’s bogey.
The ninth par three hole is what both golfers, as well as those fortunate enough to watch from the club’s outdoor patio, will always remember.
Merriott was on the green in one, but had to convert an extremely tricky downhill left-to-right putt of about 25 feet for a birdie.
He did, much to the gallery’s delight.
This PGA Tour quality putt would have left Merriott at two in the last nine.
Except Weir counter-cut with his own long birdie.
The Rochester, New York native watched his 20-foot first-cut foot break from right to left, then drop sideways into the cut.
“I actually felt pretty good in mine because it was uphill,” Weir said. “It’s more fun to do when you know there are a lot of people watching it.”
Merriott followed his winning four-hole run with bogeys on 12, 13 and 14. Weir, who trailed by three, struggled to come back a quarter of the game before the 18th par four at Lawrence Park.
Weir, however, conceded the game after missing a birdie opportunity uphill from the front of the green.
“I had other chances at the end of the round, but I didn’t take advantage of them,” Weir said. “That’s when Jon closed the door for me.”
Merriott said he experienced an unusual calm before such a high-profile event.
This serenity was called into question at the end of the round.
“I got a little nervous on the home stretch, and I think my game showed it there,” said Merriott. “But it’s a match play. You just have to grind it. “
Merriott has said he will certainly try to do a sweep of the EDGA 2021 majors. He plans to compete in the Marquette Savings Bank Amateur Championship, scheduled for August 13-15 at the Lake View Country Club in North East.
Contact Mike Copper at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ETNcopper.