Team MAGA Rallies, But Falls on Sunday at the Mid-America Junior Cup
Basehor, KS - It was a hard fought fight in Kansas City for the 25th Mid-America Junior Cup at Falcon Lakes Golf Club. Team Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association (MAGA) took on Team Central Links Golf (CLG) - formerly Kansas City Golf Association - in what continues to be a tight competition for the title. Coming into the 25th playing of the Cup, MAGA leads with the most wins at 10, but Central Links is close behind with 9 wins. The two teams have halved the matches 5 times with MAGA retaining the cup twice and CLG retaining the cup three times. The championship consists of three rounds with everyone participating in Saturday Four-Ball, Saturday Foursomes, and Sunday Singles. Last year, after the teams remaining all square throughout Saturday, Team MAGA pulled out enough match points in the Sunday Singles matches to halve the Championship and keep the cup in St. Louis.
Coming off of the stiff competition last year, both teams came ready to take on the competition again. The teams consist of four boys and four girls. Two boys and two girls on each team are aged 15 or under, while two boys and two girls are aged 16 to 18.
Team MAGA: Harper Ackermann, Eva Brown*, Bubba Chapman, Eric Ewing*, Caden Fehr*, Sarah Hyten*, KC Lenox, Avery McLaughlin (to learn more about the team, click here)
Team CLG: Savannah Cagle*, Ty Lasley, Connor MacGee*, Hadley Neese, Lynn Powell*, Peyton Smith*, Claire Sullivan, Tyler Strong
*indicates 15 and under
Saturday kicked off the Cup with the morning Foursomes Matches. In this format, the players would play alternate shots with team pairing set alternating tee shots. Each side of the ball paired one boy and one girl from their team. The 16 and up kids would take the course first. KC Lenox and Harper Ackermann for Team MAGA would take on Claire Sullivan and Ty Lasley of Team CLG in the first match of the day. Both teams decided to have the girls tee off on the odd numbered holes, while the boys would tee off on each of the even numbered holes. Through the first three holes, the two sides were at a stalemate, but Lasley and Sullivan picked up a win on hole 4 to take the lead. Lenox and Ackermann tried to bring the match back to MAGA territory, and managed to bring the match to all square on Hole 12. Team MAGA took the match to the eighteenth green before falling 2 Down to Team CLG. The second match of the day saw Avery McLaughlin and Bubba Chapman of Team MAGA versus Hadley Neese and Tyler Strong of Team CLG. This match was a rollercoaster from start to finish with both sides being up and down. Chapman and McLaughlin took the lead on Hole 2, but Neese and Strong quickly responded back. They made the turn tied and continued that battle throughout the back nine. Tied after Hole 15, the two sides took the match through 18, where they would end the match all square.
The third match of the morning had Eva Brown and Eric Ewing for Team MAGA paired against Savannah Cagle and Connor MacGee of Team CLG to get the 15 and under kids on the course. From the first hole, Brown and Ewing found themselves up in the match. The pair were moving along to get to 5 Up through 6 holes. Unrelenting, Brown and Ewing got the first point on the board for Team MAGA, winning the match 6 & 5. In the final morning match Team MAGA paired Sarah Hyten and Caden Fehr to battle Team CLG’s Lynn Powell and Peyton Smith. Powell and Smith won the first hole, but Hyten and Fehr continued to push and brought the match back to square on Hole 3. Making the turn 2 Down and finding themselves three down through 12, Team MAGA did not give up. Hyten and Fehr took their match to the 18th Hole before falling 1 Down to Team CLG. After the Morning Foursomes, Match 1 finished - Team CLG 2 Up, Match 2 - TIED, Match 3 - Team MAGA 6 & 5, and Match 4 - Team CLG 1 Up. The Leaderboard would have 1.5 points to MAGA and 2.5 points to CLG.
After a quick lunch break, the kids were back on the course for the Afternoon Four-Ball Matches. Now, each side paired the boys and the girls from each age group together, where all kids would play their own ball. To get the afternoon rolling, Chapman and Ackermann for Team MAGA would take on Lasley and Strong of Team CLG. Chapman and Ackermann went 1 Up in the match on Hole 2, but Lasley and Strong won at the third to tie the match. They would make the turn with Team CLG 1 Up, but twice on the back nine Team MAGA would tie the match. Chapman and Ackermann would never fall more than 1 Down throughout the match, and took it to the 18th green before falling 1 Down to Team CLG. In the second match of the afternoon, Lenox and McLaughlin for Team MAGA would face Neese and Sullivan for Team CLG. Neese and Sullivan would take the early lead for their side on Hole 1, but Lenox and McLaughlin would fight throughout the match to bring it back to all square. Unable to pull the match into Team MAGA’s corner, the pair would fall 2 & 1 after taking the match to the 17th hole.
Getting the 15 and under kids back on course, Ewing and Fehr of Team MAGA were ready to face MacGee and Smith of Team CLG. Both sides of the ball were fighting hard throughout this match. Through nine holes, the match remained Tied with no one having taken a lead. Keeping the tied streak going, neither team had pulled ahead through Hole 12, but Team CLG won Hole 13 to take the first lead of the match. Ewing and Fehr were not a fan of that idea, so the pair rallied back to win the next hole and then push on to win the next three. Ewing and Fehr would win Team MAGA their first afternoon point, 3 & 1. The final match of the day was between Brown and Hyten of Team MAGA versus Cagle and Powell of Team CLG. Hyten and Brown took the early lead of the match on Hole 1, until Team CLG pulled the match back to even on Hole 5. Team CLG would pull ahead on Hole 9 and win again on Hole 10. Hyten and Brown did not give up by rallying back on Holes 13 and 14 to bring the match back to all square. The pair would get the match to Hole 17 before falling 2 & 1 to Team CLG. Following the conclusion of the Afternoon Four-Ball, the Match 1 finished - Team CLG 1 Up, Match 2 - CLG 2 & 1, Match 3 - Team MAGA 3 & 1, and Match 4 - Team CLG 2 & 1. The Leaderboard would have 2.5 points to MAGA and 5.5 points to CLG.
After a disappointing afternoon for Team MAGA, the team went to dinner and then got a much needed night’s rest. Waking up refreshed and ready to go to battle, Team MAGA arrived at the course for the Sunday Singles Matches. Starting off the day for Team MAGA was Sarah Hyten, taking on Lynn Powell of Team CLG. Hyten found the lead on Hole 3 and kept it until Hole 6 where Powell tied it up. This did not deter Hyten, as she won Hole 8 to go 1 Up. On Hole 11, Powell tried to change the momentum again by tying the match, but Hyten took back over on Hole 12. The pair fought through the 18th green, where Hyten would win the match 1 Up and earn MAGA its first singles match point. The second match of the day saw Team MAGA’s Eva Brown versus Team CLG’s Savannah Cagle. Brown found the lead on Hole 2 and won again on Hole 3. Cagle then responded by bringing the match to square on Hole 5. Brown tried hard to regain control of the match, but would end the day falling to CLG 4 & 3. Going off as the third match of the day was Caden Fehr of Team MAGA against Peyton Smith of Team CLG. It was a tough day for Fehr, though he fought hard to stay in the game and turn the match around. Twice on the front nine, Fehr held the match to all square, but would find himself 3 Down at the turn. Smith kept his momentum going to defeat Fehr 4 & 3. Rounding out the 15 and under group, Eric Ewing of Team MAGA faced Connor MacGee of Team CLG. Ewing was 1 Up after the third hole before MacGee tied the match on Hole 5. Ewing wanted to make the turn up on his opponent, so he won Holes 6 and 7 to head to the back nine 2 Up. MacGee tried to shake Ewing, even getting the match back to all square on Hole 15, but Ewing would shut him out to win the next two holes to earn a second point for Team MAGA, 2 & 1.
Half way through the tee times, KC Lenox of Team MAGA would take on Claire Sullivan of Team CLG. Lenox found the lead on Hole 3 and was ready to hold on to it. Lenox would make the turn 2 Up against CLG. Sullivan tried to find some momentum on the back nine, winning Holes 11 and 14 to get the match square, but Lenox was not willing to lose the match. The pair would take the match through Hole 18, where Lenox would sink a putt to win the hole and win the match 1 Up. Sixth in the lineup was Team MAGA’s Avery McLaughlin versus Team CLG’s Hadley Neese. McLaughlin fought to the very end of her match. After losing the first hole, Mclaughlin won the second to tie the match. On Hole 5, Neese picked up some momentum and made the turn 2 Up against McLaughlin. McLaughlin tried hard to break into that lead, but would end the day losing her match 3 & 2. Ready to end his Mid-America Junior Cup career on a high note, Bubba Chapman of Team MAGA took on Tyler Strong of Team CLG. The pair would get through Hole 4 all square before Chapman would find a win on Hole 5 to take the lead. Strong would win Hole 8 to tie the match and then make the turn all square. After a moment to refocus at the turn, Chapman turned on the jets to win Holes 10, 11, and 13. Despite Strong’s effort to come back by winning on Hole 14, Chapman would close out the match on Hole 16 to win another MAGA point, 3 & 2. The closer for Team MAGA was Harper Ackermann versus Team CLG’s Ty Lasley. Ackermann took an early lead, winning Holes 1 and 2 to set the tone for the match. Lasley tried throughout the round to shut Ackermann down, but was just unable to shake him. Even after a wayward tee shot on Hole 8 by Ackermann gave Lasley the hole, Ackermann regrouped while walking to the next tee box and never looked back. Ackermann would close out his match on the 15th green to win his match 3 & 2.
Team MAGA raked in 5 out the 8 points in the Singles matches, having won Match 1 - 1 Up, Match 4 - 2 & 1, Match 5 - 1 Up, Match 7 - 3 & 2, and Match 8 - 3 & 2. Team CLG only needed three points to win the Cup, and managed to do so. Team MAGA would fall with the Final Leaderboard reading Team MAGA 7.5 points and Team CLG 8.5 points. It was a hard fought battle across the two days for both sides, and Team MAGA rallied together on Sunday to put the pressure on the opponents. Despite the outcome and having to leave the trophy in Kansas City, these eight kids represented Team MAGA well and made the association proud. Next year, Team MAGA will be ready for battle to win the Cup back when the two sides meet again in St. Louis.