James Farrah had an easy run through the 83rd annual Maryland State Golf Association men's amateur until Saturday. Farrah, a 22-year-old Georgetown graduate, was eliminated in the afternoon semifinals, losing 1 up to Tom Winegardner at Towson Golf and Country Club.
Winegardner, a 43-year-old from Old South, will play Billy Wingerd, a 21-year-old who plays on the Towson golf team, in Sunday's 36-hole final. Wingerd, of Mount Pleasant, won the other semifinal match, 5 and 4, against Phil Fairbanks of Hobbit's Glen.
Playing in his first Maryland men's amateur, Farrah, a Potomac resident who plays out of Bethesda Country Club, easily won his quarterfinal match this morning against Andy Williams of Congressional, 6 and 5. He won his first- and second-round matches, 7 and 5 then 5 and 4. It wasn't until he met Winegardner, a 25-year veteran of this tournament, in the semifinals that Farrah was challenged.
"I didn't hit the ball as well this afternoon as I did this morning," Farrah said. "This morning I felt like my game was good enough to win it; then this afternoon I just kind of hit a couple bad shots. For the most part, I played well. There were just a few points where I hit an awful shot and it cost me."
Farrah was 1 up after nine holes, but then lost No. 10 when he three-putted and fell 1 down on the next hole after Winegardner made a 40-foot birdie putt from the fringe. After both players missed the green on the par-3 14th, Winegardner got up and down for par to go 2 up. Farrah birdied the next hole and then put the match at all square with a par on No. 17. He lost the final hole when his chip shot sailed eight feet past the hole, leaving him with a difficult putt.
Winegardner, who defeated 18-year-old Jarrod Page, 2 and 1, in Saturday morning's quarterfinals, was surprised to have beaten Farrah.
"I think the better golfer lost today," Winegardner said. "I don't know how I got 2 up [in the match] because I felt like he was striking the ball a little bit better, keeping it in play, knocking it a little closer."
Winegardner has not played against Wingerd, who defeated Greg Rodgers, 1 up, in 19 holes in the quarterfinals. His experience may have given him the edge against the younger players he faced today, but Winegardner, who has never advanced this far in this tournament, said staying calm isn't as easy as it used to be.
"When I was 18, 20, 21, you're fearless on every shot," Winegardner said. "As I get older, I get more worried. I seem to have more trouble handling [nerves] as I get older."
In the other quarterfinal match, Fairbanks defeated Chris Connolly of Chevy Chase, 2 and 1.