WESTPORT — Hometown golfer Chris Meinke won his first LMGA Club Championship defeating 2003 Champion Mike Durkin in the 36-hole Championship Flight final by the score of 3&2.
For 2016 LMGA Player of the Year Meinke, one of the top players at Longshore having won many LMGA events and faring well in both amateur and professional Metropolitan Golf Association (MGA) and Connecticut State Golf Association (CSGA) events, the Club Championship represented a white whale of sorts, having never made it to the event finals, let alone win the title.
But the 2017 tournament represented a change for the former Staples Wrecker soccer player who still competes on a regional travel team.
Meinke got off to a fast start in the Final, shooting a three-over-par 72 to Durkin’s un-Durkin-like opening 83, which gave Meinke an 8-up lead after the opening 18 holes.
Noticing the softer, damper course conditions due to Saturday’s heavy rain, Meinke made consistent use of the ‘Texas wedge’, using putter to get the ball close to the hole from off the green numerous times.
After 18 holes and facing an 8-down deficit, the veteran Durkin regrouped at the turn by blasting three hard 7-irons on the range and abandoning his golf cart to walk the back 18. The change loosened him up, helping him find his rhythm and win the first and third holes, while nearly winning holes 2 and 4 as well.
Durkin would continue the fight, down six holes with six to play, he’d go on to win holes 13, 14 and 15, getting him to just three-down with three to play.
But ultimately Meinke’s early lead coupled with his consistent drives of 270 yards down the middle of the fairway would take their toll.
He rarely missed, leaving himself short irons into most of the greens and finally closed out the scrappy Durkin for good with a par on 16—the 34th hole of the day—and secure his first Club Championship.
“Chris is a great champion,” said Durkin, ever the sportsman, before joining the entire Meinke family for celebratory champagne on the patio at the Pearl at Longshore.
With his parents and wife Carolyn walking nearby in the gallery all day and there to join in on the win afterwards, Meinke called the it the “greatest moment in my golf life.”
Ahab finally caught his white whale.
Additional Tournament Flight Results
First Flight: Brent Biederman defeated Chris Eydenberg
Second Flight: John Leo defeated Mike Clear
Third Flight: Vijay Popat defeated Russell Polin
Fourth Flight: Scott Bennewitz defeated Jeff Schon
The Longshore Men's Golf Association (LMGA) is a non-profit, voluntary association whose members participate in golf leagues, tournaments and other activities throughout the season. LGMA membership is open to all male golfers. Westport residency is not required. For more information visit www.LMGA.org.