110th Amateur Championship
Stroke Play Qualifying Results
Match Play Bracket
Check out Paul Kenyon's blog articles on this years Amateur Championship
By Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE _ Kevin Silva left no doubt on Friday that he was the best player in the 110th RIGA Amateur Championship.
The 31-year-old former pro who lives in New Bedford and plays out of Montaup, hit his first approach shot in the scheduled 36-hole title match against John Jacopsic within one foot of the hole for a kick in birdie.
He then birdied the second hole as well. Then took the third with a par. Before many had finished their first cup of morning coffee, Silva had a three-hole lead. Playing steady, methodical, almost mistake-free golf, the former University of North Carolina star went on from there to a 6-and-5 triumph. He was 4-under for the 31 holes.
While Silva piled up numerous honors in high school and college and then played seven years as a professional, he spoke about how the victory was satisfying in that, less than two years after regaining his amateur status, he was able to put on a true championship display. Beyond pure talent, he showed newfound maturity.
``I was talking with my father last night last night and told him this was the difference between the 21-year-old Kevin and the 31-year-old Kevin,’’ he related. ``Both of my matches yesterday went down to the wire and I was able to muster a couple of wins.
``I was able to stay within myself. I thought, `If this guy beats me, he beats me.’ When I was younger, I tried to force things. Now I know I just play my game and if someone beats me, he beats me.’’
Silva works for a field engineer for a company that builds cell phone towers. He travels throughout New England and does not get to play as much as he used, too, often just practice at night after work.
``It’s for the love of the game,’’ he said of why he plays. ``I really and truly love the competition. I love the game of golf.’’
``I can’t say that enough, just the grind of it,’’ he said of the joy of competing. `` It’s going through your pre-shot routine every time. It’s visualizing shots. It’s playing on greens that are phenomenal that are rolling 12 ½ out here. You’ve got to have some imagination on how you putt.
``I’ve enjoyed that aspect of just grinding, really trying to do my absolute best,’’ he went on. ``If the outcome were maybe to be a negative one, all I know is that I did my best . My pre-shot routine was solid every time. And my concentration was solid as far as what targets I wanted to hit at. You can’t force an outcome. I just tried to do as best I could with what I could control.’’
The 5-foot-8, 140-pounder is surprisingly long. While he played well all week, he seemed to play better as the pressure grew.
``As I got up, that was the time I focused the hardest. I didn’t want to give him the opportunity to come back,’’ he said. ``I just tried to keep myself thinking I was even in the match.’’
``He just didn’t make many mistakes,’’ Jackopsic said. ``I was able to cut it to one late in the first round then he made birdie on 17 and 18 to win those holes.’’
Any hope Jackopsic might have held on to was dashed at the 29th hole. Silva’s lead was 5-up. Jackopsic hit his approach on the par-4 within four feet. Silva watched, then drilled his approach just past the hole. It spun back and nearly went in for a deuce. It ended up inches from the cup for a conceded bird. When Jackopsic missed his birdie putt the issue was all but settled.
Silva, the first player ever from Montaup to win the title, spoke about his he was able to only because he won the lottery. The Montaup lottery that is. He was a member of New Bedford Country Club last year. But fees go up for anyone over age 30. He would have had to pay more money to belong and he was thinking of doing it.
Friends told him about how Montaup has a drawing every few years to decide which members from its waiting list to offer memberships.
``I won it,’’ he said. ``I was able to get in an associate member. I love it there.’’ Because of him, Montaup will have a new championship trophy to display in the clubhouse.
Quarterfinal & Semifinal Recap
By Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE _ Two first-time competitors, John Jackopsic of Meadow Brook and Kevin Silva of Montaup, will meet on Friday at Metacomet for the title in the 110th Rhode Island Golf Association Amateur Championship.
The match is interesting in that it features one player, Silva, who has just returned to playing amateur golf after spending seven years as a pro, against another, Jackopsic, who is planning to turn pro at the end of the summer.
It is doubly interesting in that it showcases the policy of inclusion under which the RIGA operates. Neither Silva not Jackopsic are true Rhode Islanders. Silva grew up and still lives in New Bedford. He joined Montaup in order to be eligible for RIGA competition and thus is fully eligible as are a number of others who regularly play in association events.
Jackopsic is similar in that his family spends most of the year in West Hartford, Ct., where he grew up. But the family also has a home in Westerly, which is where they spend the summer. Jackopsic earned an automatic berth in the Amateur when he won the Burke Memorial last spring, the first RIGA event in which he took part.
Regardless of where they call home, Silva and Jackopsic both earned their berths in the 36-hole title match thanks in large part to terrific clutch play.
The 31-year-old Silva, who has played in two U.S. Opens and had a strong college career at the University of North Carolina, has a new favorite hole, the downhill par-4 closing hole at Metacomet. He pulled out 1-up victories in both his morning quarterfinal against Seamus Fennelly and the afternoon semifinal against West Warwick’s Rob Grossguth with birdies on 351-yard hole.
``I had 77 (yards to the green) this morning and 72 just now, pretty much the same shot each time,’’ he said. ``That pin placement (in the middle of the green) is an attackable pin. I hit good wedges both times.’’ Both times he pitched within five feet of the hole.
``I liked the one this afternoon better than the one this morning. This one was uphill,’’ he pointed out. ``This morning was downhill.’’ He made them both to win his match each time.
Silva showed the poise of a veteran in coming back from behind in both matches. He felt the key in squeezing past Grossguth, who also was a semifinalist last year, came on the 13th. Grossguth had just won 12 to go 2-up, the biggest lead by either player.
``He putted great all day, but he three-putted there, which opened the door just a crack,’’ Silva said. ``I felt I needed some momentum and felt that was the crack I needed.’’ Silva drew even with a conceded birdie at 16, setting up his big finish on 18.
Jackopsic’s semifinal might have been even more dramatic as he outlasted Mid Amateur champion Jamie Lukowicz of the home club in 21 holes. Lukowicz never trailed until he took three from the fringe for bogey on the 21st hole, that after hitting a terrific punch shot from out of the trees with his approach on the par-4.
Lukowicz led early by two holes, lost it, then two more times took 1-up leads. Each time Jackopsic fought back. Jackopsic used an improbable birdie putt on 15 to pull even.
``I made that outrageous putt. It was about 45 feet with about 12 feet of break in it,’’ he said. ``I was really lucky I saw him putt on the same line before I had to putt. It went right in the middle.’’ The two ran off pars to stay even going to 18. Both had chances to win on 18, but Jackopsic three-putted from above the hole and Lukowicz missed a six-footer for par.
They both parred the first two extra holes before Jackopsic won it with his par on the 21st.
The morning quarterfinals continued the weeklong trend of close matches as all but one reached the 18th green. The only exception was Jackopsic’s 4-and-3 victory over former champion Tom McCormick.
Even that match, though, was close much of the way. McCormick, who won in 2005, led through most of the front nine, though never by more than one hole. The two were tied through 10. The big swing came on 11, where Jackopsic bogeyed, but still won the hole because McCormick doubled it.
With the lead for the first time, the recent BC grad went on to win 12, 13 and 14 to quickly jump his advantage to 4-up. When both birdied 15 for a halve, Jackopsic had his spot in the semis.
The three other quarter-finals had more exciting finishes. Grossguth and Blanchard, the two veterans who have been in this position often in the past, went 20 holes before Grossguth earned his semifinal berth for the second year in a row.
Grossguth and Blanchard, a two-time champion, were never more than one hole apart as they halved 13 of the 20 holes they needed to decide the issue. Blanchard won the par-4 16th to pull even. The two then parred 17, 18 and 19 before Grossguth won it with a par on the par-5 20th hole.
Silva earned his spot in the semis against Grossguth with a spectacular finish to edge URI’s Seamus Fennelly, 1 up. Those two were even through 15. Fennelly, who learned the game at Foster and now plays out of Metacomet, birdied 16 to go ahead. Silva responded with a bird on 17 to pull back even and then a bird on 18 to win it. Both came thanks to outstanding approaches on the par-4s, within three feet on 17 and four feet on 18.
Lukowicz became the last member of the home club to stay alive when he survived a wild 1-up decision over Wheeler senior Jeffrey Giguere. Lukowicz started fast and won 2, 3 and 5 with two birds and a par. He was still 3-up through nine before Giguere won 10 and 12 with pars and 13 with a bird to draw even.
Over the last five holes, both players parred out, with one exception. Giguere bogeyed 17, just enough to allow Lukowicz to take the 1-up thriller.
Round of 32 & 16 Recap
By Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE _ The list reads like a Who’s Who of Rhode Island golf: Hall of Famers George Pirie and Paul Quigley, defending champion Bobby Leopold, four-time champ Brad Valois and two-time Junior champion Patrick Welch. Compile a top 10 of the best players in the state and every one of them not only would be on it, they would be high on it.
But not on Wednesday. They all suffered the same fate as the first two rounds of match play in the 110th Amateur were completed at Metacomet.
They all lost.
In one of the most memorable days in tournament history, the story was not so much which players survived and moved into Thursday’s quarterfinals, as who was beaten. It was a dramatic display of the vicissitudes of match-play golf.
Some of the big names did survive. Two former champions advanced, Tom McCormick and Charlie Blanchard. McCormick provided one of the day’s biggest shockers, ousting defending champion Leopold in 19 holes in the first round and then holding off Leopold’s brother-in-law Tyler Cooke, 1-up, in a battle of former hockey players.
West Warwick’s Rob Grossguth, a former finalist, also survived the upset barrage and earned a berth in the quarterfinals opposite Blanchard. So did Mid-Am champion Jamie Lukowicz, who provided a dramatic end to the day’s activities. Lukowicz rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole just as skies were darkening and rain beginning to fall. The putt edged long-hitting newcomer Josh Cameron, a former pro who lives in Connecticut and plays out of Meadow Brook.
The others moving on were Montaup’s Kevin Silva, Meadow Brook’s John Jackopsic, last year’s Burke Memorial champion, URI senior Seamus Fennelly and teenager Jeffrey Giguere of Wannamoisett and the Wheeler School.
Matches were tight throughout. McCormick had two dramastic battles in eliminating the Cooke family. He and Leopold, who is married to Tyler’s sister, Taylor, went 19 holes. Both players had 2-hole leads at one point. McCormick went 1-up when he won 17, Leopold birdied 18 when he stuck his approach within two feet. That forced extra holes and McCormick won it with a bird on the 19th, the par-4 first hole.
In the afternoon, McCormick and Cooke were never more than one hole apart. They were tied through 16. McCormick took his first lead since the sixth hole with a par on 17. When Cooke missed the green on the par-4 18th with his approach, it looked as McCormick was home free. But Cooke drained a 30-foot par saver to stay alive. McCormick had to make a four-footer for his par to win, and he did it.
On a day of outstanding matches, Silva and Welch had perhaps the best duel of the day. The stat that proved that: There was not a single bogey by either play in the entire match. Silva is a 31-year-old former pro who joined Montaup after being reinstated as an amateur two years ago. He came away thoroughly impressed with the 15-year-old medalist.
``He’s a phenomenal talent. He’s ahead of where I was at that age,’’ Silva said of Welch, who was 2-under par in the match. That was not enough, though, since Silva ran off five birds and 11 pars to win, 3 and 2.
``I played very well. It was one of those days I felt in rhythm,’’ he said. ``My rhythm stayed true the whole day. I was able to make some putts on this second 18.’’
Jackopsic, who plays for Boston College, was 1-down to URI’s Makenzie Denver through 16, but finished birdie-birdie to win.
Giguere, the youngest survivor at 17 (he is a senior at the Wheeler) fell 3-down to Ryan Pelletier before running off consecutive birdies at 9, 10 and 11. He also won 12 with a par. Pelletier responded with birds to win 13 and 25. Still another bird, at 17, was the deciding point for Giguere.
Blanchard, the Bryant University golf coach came on late to top Jeff Maher in the first round, 3 and 2, then put on his best display yet in beating 16-year-old Davis Chatfield, a fellow Wannamoisett member, 5 and 3 in the second round.
``I played great this afternoon,’’ he related. ``I had 32 on the front and missed a short one I should have had.’’
Grossguth, a finalist two years ago, piled up birds.
``I made three birdies and a conceded eagle on the front nine this morning (against Fletcher Babock) then made four birds on the front this afternoon (in a 3-and-2 decision over Bruce Heterick),’’ Grossguth said. ``These greens are unbelievable. I made three real bombs.’’
Morning upsets include Valois falling to Giguere, 1 up. Valois was 2-up through 13 before Giguere won 14, 16 and 17 to pull ahead. When both parred 18, Valois was eliminated.
Quigley was even withLukowicz through 14 in the first round. Lukowicz won 15 and 16 and halved 17 for the 2-and-1 decision. Pirie lost the first two holes to Meadow Brook’s Jackopsic and several times drew back within one, the last time by winning the 13th.
Jackopsic won 14 and 15 to go 3 up. Pirie won 16 to stay alive, but when 17 was halved Jackopsic had the 2-and-1 victory.
Round 2 Summary
By Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE _ Patrick Welch made history Tuesday in the 109th RIGA Amateur Championship, yet he was only part of the story on a wild day at Metacomet Country Club.
The 15-year-old, the youngest player in the 122-man field, earned medalist honors when he compiled a 2-under 68 in a rain delayed round for a 36-hole total of 5-under 135 .
Welch used his crosshanded grip to compile birdies against only one bogey in the 36 holes of qualifying. He became the youngest player in tournament history two years ago when he earned a berth in the tournament and has been the youngest competitor for each of the last three years. He qualified for match play in each of his first two starts and was beaten in the round of 16 each time, two years ago by Jamison Randall and last year by eventual champion Bobby Leopold.
As far as could be determined through a check of RIGA records, only one player in the modern era (post World War II) has won the tournament while still in high school. That was North Kingstown’s Scott Teller in 1973. Welch just finished his freshman year at Classical.
As young as he is, Welch had goals. While some players are concerned only about qualifying for match play, he very much wanted to win medalist honors.
``I was playing for medalist. I wanted to be medalist,’’ he said. ``I wanted to show all the great players here what I can do. I’m proud I was able to do it.’’ He had only one bogey in the 36 holes.
His threesome was the highlight group and all three came through. Each year, the RIGA has its Amateur, Junior and Senior champions play in the same threesome in the two rounds of qualifying. That meant Welch did his work playing with Leopold, the Amateur champion, and Dr. George Pirie, the Senior titlist. The group still had three holes to play when the afternoon rain delay was called.
Leopold had the tournament’s low round, a 6-under 64 to finish a 3-under 137, second only to Welch. He closed out in style with a bird on his final hole in the gathering darkness.
Pirie faced a challenge after an opening 76. The Hall of Famer from Valley responded with a 69 that included an eagle on the par-5 ninth. He three-putted the 16th, his first hole after the rain delay.
``I wasn’t sure of the speed after the rain,’’ he said. ``I knocked it 15 feet past the hole.’’ That put him at 6-over, which he figured was near the cut line. Showing the grit he has displayed so often over the years, he responded by hitting his approach on 17 within 10 feet and making the bird to clinch a spot in match play.
As well as those three played, for most of the day the story for the other competitors was the weather. Play had to be delayed twice by heavy rainstorms. The morning starters had to sit for about 45 minutes when heavy rain swept up the bay. As bad as that storm was, though, it was tiny in comparison to the monsoon that arrived about 5:35 p.m. when Welch still had three holes to play.
Bob Ward, the executive director, blew the horn to stop play about 5:25 p.m. Because the rain had not arrived, some wondered what he was doing. However, about five minutes later, as all the 40 or so players still on the course were back in the safety of the clubhouse and patio at Metacomet, a vicious rain storm began pelting the course.
Within minutes, standing water was visible at a number of spots on the course. Ward twice updated the players on what officials were planning. When the rain abated about 6:30, Matt Klida, the course superintendent, and Jim McKenna, the RIGA tournament director, went out to inspect the course. They decided that Klida and his staff needed a half hour to deal with standing water and squeegee several greens that still had standing water.
Ward met with the players again, told them carts, which were allowed this year for the first time, could not return to the course. If players had questions about how to deal with issues caused by the rain, they were to play two balls and get a ruling on which one was the correct one after they completed play.
Those who finished just before dark included Paul Quigley. The oldest player in the field, at age 70, he became what is thought to be the oldest player to earn a spot in match play with a 75 for 145 total.
Second-round play was about 8:20 p.m. In a rarity, no playoff was necessary since exactly 32 players finished at 146 or lower.
Even with all the craziness of the day, most of the top players handled matters well and earned berths in match play.
Four-time champion Brad Valois and eight-time player of the year Charlie Blanchard both recovered from poor days on Monday to easily qualify. Both followed their 75s in the first round with 68 for 143. They played in the morning. So did Burke Memorial champion Brendan Lemp, who had a 67 for 142, and Bryant University’s McKinley Slade, who last week qualified for the U.S. Amateur also had a 67 for 140.
Round 1 Summary
By Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE _ It took nearly 20 years for Jamie Lukowicz to win a major RIGA championship. Now that he has one in his pocket, he is playing like a champion almost every time he tees it up.
Lukowicz continued playing as well as anyone in the state on Monday when he blazed his way to a 5-under-par 65 at Metacomet, his home course, to take the first-day lead in the 110th RIGA Amateur. His score, according to those at Metacomet, equals the lowest ever posted by an amateur in tournament play.
The performance was not exactly a surprise since Lukowicz has been playing so well. The 41-year-old from West Warwick finally broke into the winner’s circle last fall when he captured the RIGA Mid-Amateur at Rhode Island Country Club. It has given him more confidence than ever. He began the year with a strong performance in the RIGA’s first major, the Burke Memorial.
``I should have won that one,’’ he said of his second-place finish to Brendan Lemp, a tournament in which he was tied for the lead with three holes to go before settling for second.
Lukowicz has been a frequent contender and did win the state Public Links Championship several years ago. The long bomber has come close in numerous open field events. He challenged in the State Open four years ago at Kirkbrae, before a late chip-in by URI grad Mark Stevens beat him. He has been in the hunt in the Mid-Am before and three times combined with Rob Grossguth to finish second in the Four-Ball.
In the first of the two qualifying rounds in the Amateur he rolled in six birds against only one bogey. The bogey came on the par-4 11th _ ``The easiest hole on the course,’’ as he called it _ and dropped him to even on the day. He went on a blitz from there with birds on 12, 14, 16, 17 and 18. That is 5-under in the last seven and a 30 on the back side.
``It was a good day,’’ was his quick summary of his effort.
The work by Lukowicz was part of an entertaining day that showcased how golf truly is a game for all ages. The leaders included the two youngest and the oldest player in the field. Patrick Welch, age 15, had a 67 to tie for second. Davis Chatfield, 16, was in a tie for fifth with a 69. And Paul Quigley, 70, matched his age to tie for ninth.
Welch, the RIGA Junior Champion, is the youngest player in the field for the third straight year. He is one of 23 Metacomet members who are in the 122-player field. The Metacomet guys speak about how much fun they have competing against each other and driving each other to get better.
Even at age 15, Welch has fit into that group. He did not have a bogey on the way to his 67. He did his work with his dad, Marty, caddying for him.
Chatfield is in a similar position in that he plays at Wannamoisett, which not only is the most difficult course in the state but among the deepest in talent. The club has 15 players in this year’s Amateur. With his brother, Patrick, caddying for him, Chatfield overcame two double-bogeys with five birdies to record his 69.
Quigley simply keeps rolling along. The Hall of Famer matched his age for the fourth time in RIGA competition with two birds and two bogeys on the way to a 70. His day included a near hole-in-one on the 10th.
Red-hot Ryan Pelletier tied Welch for second with a 67 that included six birds. The sixth came on his last hole of the day, the par-5 ninth, where his eagle putt hit the hole, spun around and stayed out. Pelletier was playing as well as anyone in the field coming into the tournament, including qualifying for the U.S. Amateur just last week.
``The course is in amazing shape,’’ he said. ``It’s tough but it’s fair. You have to be on the right side of the hole with these greens. They’re fast but if you’re below the hole you can make them.’’
While scores were good overall, several of the biggest names struggled. Defending champion Bobby Leopold went 4-over in his first five holes and had to fight back for a 73. Eight-time player-of-the-year Charlie Blanchard had a 75. And four-time champion Brad Valois was perhaps the biggest surprise of the day on the negative side, also with a 75.
Valois has to be considered one of the favorites, not only because he has own four times but because he is playing on his home course. The long-hitting regularly tears up the par 5s. Amazingly, he was 4-over on Metacomet ‘s two par-5s, with an eight on the second and a six on the ninth. Those two played as the two easiest holes on the course. Valois and Blanchard begin the second day in a tie for 47th.
The day marked the first time in RIGA history that players were allowed to use carts. Twenty-seven of the 122 players took advantage of the new rule and used carts.
The cut to the low 32 to begin match play will be made after Tuesday’s second round.
110th Amateur Championship Pre-Qualifying
6/1 - Agawam Hunt - Pairings - Alpha List - Results
6/3 - Fenner Hill GC - Pairings - Alpha List - Results
6/17 - Cranston CC - Pairings - Alpha List - Results