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The ultimate in first-world problems: Amateur scheduled to play two prestigious tournaments on same day, forced to concede final of one

By Sam Weinman

What do you do when you're the defending champion in one amateur tournament and in the finals of another, and they're both held the same day?

Actually, don't let that happen. That was the lesson 21-year-old Max Christiana learned recently. The Boston College senior abruptly conceded the June 6 final of the Westchester (N.Y.) Golf Association Amateur midway through the match at his home course, Westchester Country Club in Harrison, because he was scheduled to play in the Anderson Memorial at Winged Foot Golf Club the same afternoon.

Christiana had played the morning 18 of the 36-hole Westchester Am final, and even held a 1-up lead over opponent Jonathan Renza. But with an afternoon tee time at the Anderson beckoning, he alerted tournament officials he was conceding the match. Although Christiana wrote a handwritten apology to the WGA after the final, he was eventually handed a one-year suspension from all WGA events by a nine-person committee.

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Max Christiana (left) and partner Max Buckley won the prestigious Anderson Memorial in 2013 and reached the semifinals this year. 
Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Golf Association.

"Looking back I wish I had never signed up for it," Christiana said by phone Tuesday. "I shouldn't have been in the predicament, but I told [WGA officals] from the beginning I was going to play in the Anderson."

Christiana's reasoning extended beyond himself. The Anderson is a team event that draws players from all over the country, and he didn't want to displace partner Max Buckley, with whom he won the event the previous year. Furthermore Christiana feared a late withdrawal from the Anderson would have repercussions for his club.

"If I didn't show up, a Westchester team probably wouldn't get invited again," he said.

Instead, Christiana made a mess of the Westchester Am final, which happened to be held at Westchester this year. He admits he signed up for the event because of the allure of playing on the course he knows best. As with most match-play tournaments, you're never sure how long you're going to last. In this case, it was a day too long.

"You shouldn't enter two events if you might not be able to finish both of them," WGA executive director Bob Thomas said. "I'm sure there are people who do it, but they shouldn't. This young man was appropriately sanctioned and admits his mistake. We've both suffered as a result of it."

 
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