After 102 storied and distinguished years, the Met Open still is open to surprises. To wit: Josh Rackley was the caddie for the champion last year and this year he won the championship himself.
“I don’t think anyone had done that before,” said Rackley, a second-year assistant pro at Tam O’Shanter Club in Brookville and an accomplished player in the Philadelphia section before that.
He held off a strong field, led by Matt Dobyns of Fresh Meadow, and won the venerable tournament, at 6 under through 54 holes, at Hollywood Country Club in Deal, N.J. Rackley credited the way he was able to hit his driver, and the experienced he gained while he was on the bag last August for his boss, Mark Brown, when the Met Open was at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury.
Rackley missed the cut in 2016, when the metropolitan area’s top local event doubled as dress rehearsal for the current Northern Trust PGA Tour stop. So he finished the week carrying for Tam O’Shanter’s head pro, who was the only one who broke par on the tough layout.
“I saw how it was done. I learned how to play without fear,” Rackley said. Two years ago, he won the Haverford Philadelphia PGA Classic but still had motivation to relocate on Long Island: “The Met Section — it has the greatest players in the country. And I wanted to work for Mark Brown.”
It might not be a long stay, though. He has the game to aim big and is in the field for the Web.Com qualifying tournament next month, the first step in trying to reach the PGA Tour. Rackley will carry confidence from having won a tournament that lists Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson and Walter Hagen among previous winners. Plus, he shot 66 last month at Bethpage Black on the way to finishing third at 7 under in the New York State Open. He said, “That made me feel like I can play anywhere.”
For the ninth year in a row, roles were happily reversed at Cherry Valley Club as The Keith, the annual tournament for caddies, was held Monday. The event allows area caddies to feel like members, and be waited on by members and the club pro.
One-hundred seven caddies, ranging in age from 14 to 73, played this year. Kyle Ritchie of Garden City Country Club shot 69, followed by a 72 from Dan Gehrig of Garden City Golf Club and 73 by Kevin Steakin of Deepdale. This year, each of the participants also was issued a pair of special glasses so they could view the eclipse.
The event is held in memory of Keith Cerrato, the Cherry Valley caddie who was fatally hit by a car as he crossed Hempstead Turnpike. Caddies are sponsored by their members and the proceeds raise scholarships for needy students at Chaminade High and Hofstra, Cerrato’s schools. This year, there also was a ceremony honoring the late Richie Mason, a Cherry Valley caddie and starter for 20 years. His son Sean hit the ceremonial first tee shot.
The Seventh Annual KEF Tee-Off for Education Tournament, which supports high school students in Kenya (where schooling is not free), will be Sept. 11 at Muttontown Club in East Norwich. Visit kenyaeducationfund.org . . . The Roger Metcalf Memorial Golf Classic, held by Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk, will be Sept. 25 at Southward Ho Country Club in Bay Shore. Visit habitatgolf.eventbrite.com.
Joseph Hart, Long Island National GC, ninth hole, 167 yards, 6-iron
Sashi Patel, Old Westbury G&CC Overlook, eighth hole, 168 yards, 3-wood
David Gary, Tam O’Shanter Club, second hole, 123 yards, 9-iron
Carol Kanarek, Tam O’Shanter Club, second hole, 139 yards, driver
Neal Berman, Bethpage Blue, 17th hole, 175 yards, 4-hybrid
Jerry Dondero, Hempstead CC, 10th hole, 140 yards, 7-iron
Alan Golus, Lake Success GC, 17th hole, 171 yards, driver
Ian Miller, Lake Success GC, sixth hole, 135 yards, 7-iron
Alan Kane (of Commack), Atlantis (Fla.) CC, 10th hole, 123 yards, 7-iron
Madge Chase, WindWatch G&CC, 12th hole, 113 yards, 5-iron