By Paul Kenyon
WARWICK _ It is now three titles in a row for Tom Acciardo and George Pirie and it does not look as if they will be slowing down any time soon.
The most successful team in the 22-year history of the RIGA’s Ed Perry Senior Four-Ball Championship continued its domination on Wednesday. They not only have own each of the last three years but have four overall, the first going back to 2005.
They closed with 4-under 65 under windy, difficult conditions at Warwick Country Club to finish with a 36-hole total of 7-under 131. They needed everything they could muster since they won by only one over the Rhode Island Country Club team of Dave Patrick and Gary McLane.
``Winning never gets old,’’ a smiling Pirie said. ``It feels great.’’
The formula was a bit different this time. Pirie, the 65-year-old periodontist, often leads the team. He has been one of the state’s dominant players for decades and already is in the RIGA Hall of Fame. When this one ended, though, Pirie was speaking about how Acciardo was the star in this one.
``He played really, really well,’’ Pirie said.
``It feels so good to play like this. I don’t know if I could have played any better,’’ said Acciardo, the former Barrington High golf coach who now works in the pro shop at Agawam Hunt.
The pair began the day one stroke off the lead and went out in 2-under 32. However, they still trailed by two since McLane and Patrick went out in 31 and extended their streak of bogey free holes to 27. Playing one group ahead of McLane and Patrick, Acciardo gave his team to spark it needed with birds at both 10 and 12 to pull into a tie for the top.
When Pirie birdied 15, the only par-5 on the course, the pair was back on top. Their margin went to two when Patrick and McLane suffered their lone bogey on 16. It meant that even with a three-putt bogey on the 18th, Pirie and Acciardo had still another title.
Brad Faxon Sr. and Joe Iaciofano won the event three times in 1997, ’98 and 2000. Paul Quigley won the event three times, with Mike Soucy in 2010 and with Nick Cioe in 2002 and 2003. Quigley and Soucy finished third this year on a pair of 67s. Fourth place went to the team of Mark Jones and Dale Smith, making them the first players from Connecticut National to place in an RIGA event.
Connecticut National, which is in Putnam, and Quinnatisset, which is in Thompson will host the overall Four-Ball Championship next week, the first time an association championship will be held in Connecticut.
Round 1 Recap
By Paul Kenyon
WARWICK _ There are different routes to take to earn the lead in a golf tournament, few as enjoyable as the one Mike Rigney and Bill Johnson took Tuesday in the RIGA’s 22nd annual Ed Perry Senior Four-Ball at Warwick.
That team earned a tie for the lead a 4-under 65 thanks to a hole-in-one by Rigney on the 181-yard 17th.
Johnson had provided the spark to get the team from Green Valley in great position with three birdies on the front side on the way to a 3-under 31. The team lost a shot with a bogey on the par-4 14th, but then Rigney provided the spectacular finish.
When the pair arrived at 17 in the late afternoon, the wind was blowing strongly, as it did for much of the day on the bayside course.
``It was going right across,’’ Rigney related, making the hole play longer than the yardage read. ``It went straight at it, landed about 10 feet short and started to roll,’’ Rigney said. With the sun coming off the bay, which is visible from the hole, it was difficult to see the green. No one could see what had happened.
``We started up there and couldn’t see the ball,’’ Rigney said. ``I thought I hit a good shot.’’
``I told him it was in the hole,’’ Johnson said.
And it was.
The 65 was matched only by the duo of Gary McLane and David Patrick. The team work for that RICC pair was almost perfect.
Patrick and McLane combined to record a bogey-free 65 in surprisingly difficult conditions because of the wind. While temperatures were in the high 70s inland, the strong wind and sun going in and out of the clouds had temps much lower at the old Donald Ross-designed course, to the point where some donned jackets at times.
``We started strong,’’ Patrick said of his team’s day. The team birdied two and five to get to 2-under. ``Gary took a little vacation in the middle and I held us in, then I took a little vacation and Gary held us in. Then we both finished strong.’’ They birdied two of the last four to get to 4-under.
The defending two-time defending championship team of George Pirie and Tom Acciardo was next at 66. Four teams were in at 67, former champions Paul Quigley and Mike Soucy, Mike Murphy-Ron Varone, and Mark Jones and Dale Smith. In all, 13 of the 57 teams shot par or better.
The second and final round will be played Wednesday. The RIGA is allowing use of forward tees for seniors in some events this year, but everyone in this event is playing from the usual white tees.
Food & Beverage: Lunch after Round 1 was included in
the entry. Food on day 2 will be available on a cash basis.
Carts & Range: Fees for both were included in entry.
Directions to: Warwick CC