56th Senior Amateur Gross
Super Seniors Division
By Paul Kenyon
PROVIDENCE _ This latest operation by doctor Pirie, the one he performed over the last two days at Triggs, was a total success. It was done cleanly and precisely, with absolutely no complications.
The periodontist from Valley added to his already lengthy list of RIGA Championships on Tuesday when he swept to a five-stroke victory in the 56th Senior Amateur. He began the day with a four-stroke lead thanks to his superb 6-under 66 in Monday’s opening round and never looked back, started quickly in the second round and then coasted to a 71.
He let everyone know that he was not going to make it easy for anyone to catch him when he birdied four of the first five holes in the second round. By the time he made the turn in 33, Pirie was ahead by six.
``It was kind of strange,’’ Pirie said. ``Usually when you go to bed at night, you forget what happened the day before. Today, we go out there and I roll in a 15-footer (for bird) on the first hole. I start thinking, `Can this be happening again?’ ‘’
It kept going.
He drained a 20-footer for another bird on the second hole. He bogeyed the third, but then he hit it tight on both four and five for two more birdies. For all practical purposes, the tournament was over.
``It’s a little different feeling,’’ he said of having the big lead. ``You can ease up too much, especially here. I have so much respect for this course. It can get you hard at any time if you don’t watch it.’’ But he never got in any serious trouble and coasted home to still another title.
If there was a surprise, it was that the title was ``only’’ the second for the 64-year-old URI grad in this event. The other came in 2006.
The doctor, who was installed in the RIGA Hall of Fame seven years ago, also clinched the association’s Senior Player of the Year with the victory. As it was, he entered the event in the lead in that category.
Pirie has been the overall Player of the Year three times and has won virtually every event the RIGA sponsors, from three Amateur titles, the Four-Ball three times, the Burke Memorial twice, the Father-Son with his son, Jon, three times and the Senior Four-Ball.
Two weeks ago, he once again earned a berth in the US Senior Amateur by advancing in qualifying at Framingham Country Club to compete next week at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Cal. That will put a cap on what has been an emotional month for Pirie. His father, Jack, who used to regularly follow his son in RIGA competition, often telling stories of his love of the game from his Scottish roots, died last month. Jon Pirie, the grandson who now lives in Miami, returned to Rhode Island for the funeral.
``The funeral was on Wednesday and that just happened to be the weekend of the club championship at Valley,’’ George Pirie related. ``Jon stayed and caddied for me.’’ Pirie made 10 birdies in the 36-hole final against Jon Drumm and won a thriller, 1 up.
After he qualified for the US Seniors, Pirie called his son.
``I said, How would you like to caddy for me again?’’ he related. ``He said, `What did you do this time? I told him, `How about the US Seniors?’ ’’
When he explained that it was in Newport Beach, the son accepted and will join his father in California.
At 64, Pirie not only won the overall title, he also won the Super Senior Division (for ages 62-67). His fellow Hall of Famer, Paul Quigley, took the Legends Division, for those 68 and older with a 142 total. Quigley, in fact, finished second overall and won his division by 13 strokes, with Ed Duffy second.
The defending champion, baseball Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, finished at 153.
The day included a hole-in-one by Pete Porter with a five-iron the 175-yard fifth hole.
Round 1 Recap
By Paul Kenyon
PROVIDENCE _ George Pirie knows better than most how quirky golf can be. What happened to him on Monday hammered home that point even more than usual.
The periodontist entered the RIGA Senior Championship at Triggs less than confident.
``I shot 80 yesterday at Valley,’’ he related. ``Cost me fifty bucks.’’
So what happened when the flag went up in the Seniors? All he did was record a dazzling 6-under 66, with six birdies and an eagle, to fly out to the first-day lead. It was the best performance on a perfect weather day that featured a lot of good scoring.
Gary McLane, one of a half dozen former champions in this event (as Pirie is) had five birdies and an eagle (on the par-5 12th) for a 70. Don Wright birdied the last hole to tie McLane for second. Paul Quigley and Tommy Goryl both had 71
The 14-stroke turnaround for Pirie did not happen by accident. It was classic Pirie.
Long hailed as perhaps the hardest worker in state golf circles, the RIGA Hall of Famer did not take his 80 happily.
``It was my putting. It wasn’t good,’’ he said. ``I went back to Valley to practice (Sunday night). I woke up this morning and went to Valley to practice some more. I didn’t really change much, I just had to get the demons out.’’
It began innocently enough. He was 1-over through five. As one of his playing partner Mike Schmidt, the defending champion explained, ``then it began.’’ Pirie put together one of the most impressive runs in any RIGA event all summer.
He birdied 6, then 8 and 9 for a 33 going out. He kept it going after the turn. He birdied the 10th and the par-3 12th and then eagled the par-5 13th. He hit a bump with a bogey on the downhill par-3 14th, but got it right back with another bird on the 15th, making him 7-under in a 10-hole stretch. A routine finish with pars on each of the last three gave him his 66.
He did not take a lot of time to enjoy it.
``I’ve got to run. I’ve got surgery at 2 o’clock,’’ he said. Pirie will be away next week. He has qualified to play in the USGA Senior Amateur that will be held at the Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Cal.
McLane had a chance to give Pirie a run. The 2010 champion in this event, McLane put together five birdies, including each of the first two holes, and an eagle, also on the 13th.
``But I had three bogeys and a double,’’ he said with a shrug of his head. He settled for a 70 and a tie for second with Wright. Wright had five birds himself, including a 15-foot on the final hole, on the way to his 70.
``The greens are great. They’re rolling really nicely,’’ Wright said. ``They’re as good as I’ve seen them in a long time.’’
Two others broke par with 71s, Hall of Famer Paul Quigley and Tom Goryl. Goryl had his 71 despite two sixes on par 5s on the back side.
Still another of the former champions, George Donnell (2008) matched par 72, as did James Ransford. Ransford had the wildest round of all. He doubled the ninth hole for 41 on the front. He then posted four birds, for pars and an eagle on the back for 31.
The defending champion, baseball Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, posted a 76.
The second and final round will be contested Tuesday at Triggs.
Cart and Range: Fees are included for both days.
Directions to: Triggs Memorial GC