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Final Match Play Results
Match Play Trees
By Paul Kenyon
WARWICK _ Most of the time, when Susie Cavanagh and Tom Acciardo are at the same golf course, it is because they are working. But not for the last three days at Warwick Country Club.
Acciardo and Cavanagh did nothing but enjoy themselves as they swept to the title in the 75th RIGA Mixed Foursomes Championship. The two, who both work at Agawam Hunt, won two more matches on Wednesday, including by 3 and 2 over Gina Bartolotta and Rick Angeli, the 2012 champions, in the title match.
Cavanagh and Acciardo were medalists in qualifying and then never trailed in any of their four matches. They are a strong team under any circumstances, with Cavanagh the women’s Stroke Play champion and runner-up in the Women’s Amateur this year. Acciardo has won a number of RIGA events, including the Senior Four-Ball with partner George Pirie at the same Warwick course earlier this summer.
For Cavanagh, winning meant a successful defense. She won the event with Tyler Cooke as her partner last year. This time, the 21-year-old partnered with Acciardo who has become a good friend and mentor through their work at Agawam. The two try to make time every day they are at Agawam to spend time playing.
``It might be five holes, having a chipping contest, playing from 100 yards in. We always try to do something,’’ Acciardo related. ``We try to play 18 holes once a week.’’
``Some of it is competing and some of it is his him helping me,’’ Cavanagh related.
When they decided to compete this year, it meant something special for Acciardo. The former Barrington High golf coach has great memories of the event.
``The last time I played in this tournament was 25 years ago,’’ he said. ``I played with Janice Golden (who won this event three times). I remember the days when I was caddying in the 1960s when it was held at Rhode Island Country and great players, national players took part in it. You’d ride past Rhode Island Country Club and there would be cars parked all along the road.’’
As he remembered it, the men always hit on the odd numbered tees and the women on the even numbers. So he told Cavanagh they would play that way, too.
``It wasn’t any special strategy. It was just what I remembered doing,’’ Acciardo explained.
It made them one of the few teams in the tournament to play that way. The more preferred way was to have the women hit the tee ball on the odd numbered holes because all four par-3s at Warwick (7, 9, 13 and 17) are on odd-numbered holes.
``When we got on the first tee and I went to play, my good friend Joe P (Pieranunzi, the RIGA starter) told me I was the first guy to hit from the first tee. I didn’t even realize it would be that way,’’ Acciardo said.
As it turned out, Acciardo loved the way it worked. Cavanagh hits the ball so long that she gave the team the advantage on the nine longer even-numbered holes. The strategy helped give the team control early in the title match as they had conceded birdies on both 2 and 4 to take a quick two-hole lead.
Angeli, who is the Bishop Hendricken High golf coach, and Bartolotta, who played on the men’s team at CCRI and now attends URI, played well. They hung in and were within two holes at the turn, but could not overcome the strong play of the new champions.
Acciardo and Cavanagh expect to be back working, and doing some playing, at Agawam Thursday morning.
``Agawam has been the best thing that ever happened to me in golf. I love it there,’’ he said.
The mother-son team of Virginia and Rick Bernard won the first division title, 4 and 3 over Kevin Clary and Jen Kosh. The Bernards are among the longest playing teams ever in tournament history.
``The first time we played was in 1977 when I was 15,’’ Rick Bernard said. They have played at least 30 times since.
Another son and mother team, Brendan and Karen McLaughlin, edged Ken Benson and Cissy Grady, 1 up, for the second division crown.
The work this week brought other benefits for Cavanagh. She clinched the Kay Jackson player-of-the-year award, not exactly a surprise since she has been the dominant women’s player all summer. Also, it served as excellent preparation for the USGA State Team matches which will be held in two weeks in Missouri.
There, Cavanagh will be joined by Kibbe Reilly and Kay Bullock in representing Rhode Island in the three-day competition at the Dalhousie Golf Club in which the top two scores each day determine the team totals.