August 31-September 1
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Senior Division Final Results
By Paul Kenyon
SEEKONK _ Jamie Lukowicz won himself another major RIGA title on Tuesday and in the process put himself in position for an even bigger award.
The West Warwick native won the Mid-Amateur championship for the second straight year with a dramatic finish at Ledgemont Country Club. He knew that Bobby Leopold, playing just ahead of him, had posted a 3-under 139 total for 36 holes. Lukowicz stood at 4-under as he stood on the tee of the 420-yard, uphill finishing hole.
His tee shot nearly went out of bounds. He was about three feet from the stakes and could only punch out. He got it about 45 yards short of the green. His pitch shot spun to a quick stop about 22 feet short of the hole. Lukowicz knew he needed to make the putt or face a playoff with Leopold.
``I knew. I was checking the scores on the back nine. I knew exactly where I stood,’’ he said.
He rolled it in and gave a fist pump as it dropped.
``Dead center,’’ he said with a smile.
The far from routine par gave him a 2-under 69 on the day and 138 total. Leopold hit 17 greens on the way to a 67 at 139. His 67 tied State Amateur champion Kevin Silva for low score of the day. Silva finished in a tie for fourth with Brad Valois and Ryan Pelletier. Rick Audette Jr. was sandwiched between the leaders, taking third with a 73 for 140.
The Senior Division had an equally tight finish. Senior champion George Pirie closed with a 71 for 146, one shot ahead of Paul Quigley, Dave McNally and Dave Patrick. Pirie played from the tournament tees, rather than the senior tees which are available for all seniors.
Lukowicz had been frustrated for 20 years as he often came close in RIGA events. But he never won a major until taking the Mid Am last year at Rhode Island Country Club.
``This one was a lot better,’’ he said. ``I had to come from behind today. I was two shots behind when we started.’’
At one point during the final day, a half dozen players were within two shots of the lead. Lukowicz made three early birdies. When he rolled in a 20-footer for another bird on the 14th, he suddenly had a three-stroke advantage. But he mis-clubbed himself on the par-3 15th and bogeyed, then got in trouble trying to cut the corner on the uphill par-4 16th and bogeyed.
He narrowly missed a 10-foot birdie putt on 17 then won with the dramatic par on 18.
In addition to taking home the silver cup given the champion, Lukowicz also jumped into the lead for the RIGA player-of-the-year title. He began the day in a tie for second, with 460 points, behind Valois, who was in the lead at 505.
The win in the Mid Am is worth 225 points. Leopold also jumped past Valois with the 140 points he earned for second.
Several events remain, including the Mulligan Interclub Championship as well as qualifying for the national Mid-Am.
Charlie Blanchard, Leopold and Valois have owned the player-of-the-year title in the last nine years. Blanchard has won it four times, Leopold three times, including last year, and Valois twice.
Leopold missed only one green on the way to his 67 on Tuesday and had his chances to win.
``I hit a lot of really good shots today. I just didn’t putt as well as I’d like. I thought I hit them where I wanted, but they didn’t go in,’’ he said.
Round 1 Recap
By Paul Kenyon
SEEKONK _ After what he went through in his last tournament, Ryan Pelletier expected a different kind of challenge when he teed it up Monday in the 22nd RIGA Mid-Amateur Championship at Ledgemont.
``I was looking forward to playing here,’’ the Pawtucket Country Club star said. ``After Olympia Fields, I was ready to get back to hitting short irons again and not long irons to all the greens.’’
Pelletier last competed in the U.S. Amateur, shot 74-72 and narrowly missed making the cut for match play. For him, competing at Ledgemont seemed like a much less difficult test, and it showed. He put together a cool 4-under 67 to tie for the first round lead with playing partner Rick Audette Jr.
Stroke Play champion Brad Valois was just one back and defending champion Jamie Lukowicz put himself in good position, too, with a 69.
Those guys were not alone in posting good numbers. The scores were shockingly low overall, although considering the conditions the red numbers were not totally unexpected.
Ledgemont is one of the most difficult courses in the RIGA. The SLOPE rating from the back tees, which can play up to 6,801 yards, is 134 with par rated at 73.4. But a number of factors converged to make it the ideal day for scoring.
``The course is set up to promote pace of play,’’ pointed out Bob Ward, the RIGA’s executive director. With 112 players in the field, Ward and Jim McKenna, the association’s tournament director, did what they usually do, which is provide relatively simple pin placements and move some tees up in order to get everyone around in reasonable time.
``The greens are excellent,’’ Ward added, noting that superintendent Norm Tessier provided excellent conditions all around.
``It’s also a beautiful day with almost no wind,’’ Ward added. Put it all together and it led to outstanding scoring.
The best scoring came in Pelletier’s group. Pelletier and Audette posted only one bogey all day. Pelletier had four birdies and no bogey, Audette five birds and only one bogey, at the 16th.
``It’s fun when you have a good group like we had,’’ Audette said.
Valois, who won the Stroke Play earlier this season, used a sensational start for his 68. He two putted the par-5 first hole for bird, made a 10-footer at two, a three-footer at three, then a 30-footer on four. Four holes, 4-under.
He steadied from there and was slowed only by bogeys in 16 and 17.
``On 16, I hit it (his approach) into the cart path and got an awful lie. I was only 20 feet from the hole,’’ he related. ``On 17, I hit it into the trees.’’
``I got a few good breaks so I can’t complain,’’ the four-time Amateur champion said.
Defending champion Lukowicz put himself in good position with a 69 that included a 4-under 32 on the front.