Match Play Brackets
Boys Championship Division
Girls Championship Division
Boys First Division
Boys Second Division
Boys Third Division
By: Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE _ It’s official: Patrick Welch is the most successful player in the 96-year history of the RIGA Junior Amateur.
The Classical High senior Friday became the first ever to win the event four times when he held off Rio Holzwarth, 2 up, in an excellent title match at Agawam Hunt. Welch built an early 3-up advantage, then saw Holzwarth surge back to pull even with the help of a near hole-in-one.
Welch’s response was to drain back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 to carry him to his unprecedented fourth title. Tom Cunningham won three times from 1954-56 and Brad Valois, who won from 2002-04, had shared the record with Welch with three championships.
``With all the names like Valois and (Brad) Faxon (who won the event twice) and I’m sure there’s a ton of others, even (Davis) Chatfield who is one of my good buddies who I wish was competing here this week, it feels good to win, ‘’ Welch said.
His match was one of two terrific title contests on the day. Lauren Dohoney, a sophomore at Bay View, held off her close friend Ava Santamaria, 1 up, to capture the girls’ title in an all-Alpine final.
While the crown is new for Dohoney, it is old hat for Welch. He created waves as a 13-year-old when he used his cross-handed grip to take his first title, also at Agawam that year.
``I was about 5-1 and weighed about 90 pounds,’’ said Welch, who now is 5-11 and 135 pounds.
``It’s obviously one of my best accomplishments,’’ Welch said of winning four times. ``I usually play my best in August. I guess I’m rested and that’s when my game feels best. I’m happy to do it here at Agawam where I won my first one.’’
Welch played with his USA bag during the tournament, the bag he received while going undefeated and leading the United States to a Junior Ryder Cup victory over Europe last summer. He has played basketball and baseball as well as golf at Classical and already has accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Oklahoma.
He showed again on Friday that beyond great talent he has the determination of a champion. He took quick command by winning 2, 3 and 4. On the 168-yard fifth, Holzwarth made a near ace.
``It landed just to the right of the hole and spun just to the left. It ended up about this far from the hole,’’ said Holzwarth as he held his fingers a few inches apart. ``That kind of settled me down.’’
Holzwarth, who is one of the top junior soccer players in New England (he led Moses Brown to the state title this year), played well from there. Birdies on 11 and 13 pulled him even. He had the momentum, but Welch responded the way champions do. On 14, he holed a downhill 20 footer for bird. Then on 15, he hit his approach four feet below the hole and made that one for bird, as well, to go 2 up.
Holzwarth won 16 with a par. After 17 was halved with pars, a bad drive right on 18 by Holzwarth went into a hazard. Holzwarth tried to chop it out but the ball barely went 20 feet. His third shot missed the green left. Welch was on in two and Holzwarth conceded as the pair reached the green.
The girls match was good in itself, but made even better because the finalists are best friends.
`` Me and Ava have been best friends for like 10 years,’’ Dohoney related. ``We golf together, we went to school together, we’re best friends. We support each other on the golf course too. . . We’ve been together like our whole lives.’’
The two staged a back-and-forth contest in which 13 of the 18 holes were won by one or the other. Dohoney twice led early on, but Santamaria won 10, 12 and 13 to go 2 up. Dohoney responded with some of the best golf of her life.
She won 14 with a par. ``Then on the 15th hole I had 60 yards and I basically holed it. It came out of the hole and I had three feet for birdie and I made it,’’ he said. ``On the 16th, I made like a 20-footer for par save on 17 I nearly holed again.’’ That gave her the lead.
On 18, she hit her approach into a hazard. But she was able to whack it out left of the green and chip to five feet. Santamaria made five on the hole. Dohoney had to make her five-footer to win. And she did.
``It’s very stressful,’’ Dohoney said of competing against her friend. ``You don’t want feelings to get hurt but you want to win. I’m really happy to have won. It’s difficult that someone wins and someone loses, but it has to happen.’’
Dohoney, 15, will begin her sophomore year at Bay View in the fall, where she was an All-Stater as a freshman. Santamaria, 14, will be a freshman at Cranston West.
``We’ll be rivals in high school, but it won’t stop us from being friends,’’ Dohoney said.
In other divisions, Ricky Angeli edged John Baldwin, 2 up, to take the first division title, Jack Georgeeu nipped Bo Vanier, 2 and 1, in the second division and Justin Grenier defeated Joey Allen, 5 and 3, in an all-Potowomut final in the third division.
The team selected to represent Rhode Island in the New England Junior Team Matches in Vermont next week is Welch, Holzwarth, Joey Tucker, Colin Sutyla, Eli Epstein-Lubow, Jacob Steckler and Brendan Fay.
By: Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE _ Rio Holzwarth gave what had been a fairly predictable RIGA Junior Championship an upset of major proportions Thursday afternoon when he shocked the medalist and heavy favorite, Andrew O’Leary, 2 and 1, at Agawam Hunt.
The triumph lifts the Moses Brown All-Stater into Friday’s title match against the other big name in the tournament, Patrick Welch. Welch, the defending champion, survived a huge quarterfinal challenge from another Moses Brown star, Eli Epstein-Lubow in the morning quarterfinals, then turned back Joe Tucker in the semis, 4 and 2, in a rematch of last year’s title match.
Based on reputation and history, Welch would have to be considered the favorite to win again. But being an underdog did not bother Holzwarth against O’Leary.
O’Leary, who will be a senior at Catholic Memorial and who now plays out of Pawtucket Country Club, has won numerous titles. He was second just last week in the Mass Juniors. He is so good he already has accepted a scholarship to attend Notre Dame in the fall of 2018.
Holzwarth also has won numerous honors _ but he has earned most of them in soccer. He is one of the top rated players in New England and helped lead Moses Brown to the Interscholastic League championship this past season.
``I was hoping to get a scholarship for soccer,’’ he said of his plans over the past few years.
But as he has played more golf he has gotten better and better. When school ended, Holzwarth said he had a conversation with his father and told him he did not want to play soccer this summer, but instead focus on golf. His performance in upsetting O’Leary is the biggest indication yet that he made the right decision.
Even in golf, while he has progressed to the level of being an All-Stater, Holzwarth has been overshadowed by his teammate, Will Dickson, who coincidentally left on Thursday to begin school at Georgia Tech, where he will be on golf scholarship.
After Thursday, though, Holzwarth no longer is in anyone’s shadow. He was 1-under-par for the 17 holes he needed to beat O’Leary. After the first five holes were halved, Holzwarth won 6 and 7. O’Leary came back to take 10 and 11. Holzwarth responded to the pressure by going 2-under the rest of the way.
Both birdied 12. Holzwarth won 13 with a par, then went 2-up with a conceded birdie at 16 after O’Leary drove into the trees. When both made routine par on 17, Holzwarth had his biggest victory yet on the golf course.
``I just think better players bring out better golf for me. I know I have to make par or birdie every hole to stay in the match. That’s basically what I did,’’ he said.
``I’m happy, it was really good,’’ he said. ``I haven’t played better all summer. It was a good time to play my best.’’
The final will be a match of multi-sport standouts. Welch, of course, has excelled in basketball and baseball, as well as golf, at Classical. Welch was a model of consistency in winning his two matches on Thursday to earn the right to return to the title match. He did not beat Epstein-Lubow until he birdied the first extra hole with a 20-footer.
``There were not many mistakes in that match,’’ Welch said. ``It was tough. . . He played really solid and pushed me to the limit.’’
Against Tucker, Welch was almost flawless. He did not make any bogeys. He was 4-up through 12 and did not lose a hole until Tucker birdied the 13th. Three of the holes Welch won were on par-3s.
`` My game plan was to try not make any bogeys,’’ Welch said. ``I p layed really solid, didn’t make many mistakes and hit a lot of greens.’’
Tucker had to wkr to get to Welch. He and Ryan Malloy went at each other in a contest that saw one or the other win 13 of the 19 holes needed to decide it. Malloy was 2-up through 14. Tucker won 15 with a bird and 17 with a par to square the match, then won the 19th with a par to get another chance against Welch.
In the other quarters, O’Leary survived a stiff challenge form Sean Irons, 2 and 1, and Holzwarth held off Brendan Fay, 3 and2.
The girls’ division match will pit two girls from Cranston who have learned the game at Alpine.
Donohey, an All-Stater at Bay View as a freshman this year, has been dominant so far. She won medalist honors and turned back Morgan MacLeod, 4 and 3, in the semifinals. MacLeod, who just turned 13, took a brief lead when she won the par-3 second hole with a par.
Dohoney’s response was to win the next five holes in a row to go 4 up. MacLeod won the par-3 eighth with a bird and took the 10th with a par to pull within two but Dohoney won the next two holes to take control.
Santamaria is playing the best golf of her life in this event. She swept past Alise Knudson, 7 and 5 in the semis. That came after she broke 40 for the second time in her life over nine holes, with a 39, on the front side in her quarterfinal victory over Haley Baldwin. Knudson parred two to take the early lead but Santamaria won five of the next six holes and was on her way to the title match.
By: Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE _ Sean Irons already has spent two days this week playing golf with Andrew O’Leary. To his pleasure, he is going to get to do it again on Thursday.
Irons, a recent Bishop Hendricken grad who is headed to Methodist College in North Carolina, won his first-round match in the 96th RIGA Junior Championship in dramatic fashion on Wednesday. One down with two to play against Paul Shannon, Irons pulled even with a winning par on 17, then took the decision with another par on 18.
His reward is to get to face O’Leary, the medalist, in the quarterfinals Thursday morning. O’Leary never lost a hole as he turned back Jacob Steckler, 7 and 6. That twosome was playing in the same group as Irons and Shannon.
Irons showed the heart of a competitor when he looked at the scoreboard and saw that he would be playing with O’Leary for a third time. The two played in the same threesome in qualifying when O’Leary shot 65, defending champion Patrick Welch a 66 and Irons a 72.
``I like to play him. He’s good to play with,’’ said Irons, a second team All-Stater for Hendricken. ``I play better when I play better players.’’
Others earning quarterfinal berths were Patrick Welch, the defending champion, Joe Tucker, the beaten finalist last year, two members of Moses Brown’s state championship team, Rio Holzwarth and Eli Epstein-Lubow, Brendan Fay, a Barrington High junior, and Ryan Malloy of East Greenwich.
Welch was business as usual in a 5-and-4 win over Dylan Kane.
``I just made a bunch of pars,’’ Welch said.
Tucker joined Irons, his Hendricken teammate, with a 4-and-2 decision over Justin Paik. Tucker, who had two deuces on his card, was 1-under as he built a 5-hole lead through 11.
The Holzwarth-Jesse Boog match was one of the best. Holzwarth took a quick 2-up lead but Boog drew back even through 11, helped by a pair of deuces on par-3 holes. Holzwarth, who was even-par for the day, won 12, 13 and 16 to take a 3-and-2 decision.
Holzwarth’s Moses Brown teammate, Epstein-Lubow, got through an even tighter match, holding off Ben Sapovits, 1 up. Epstein-Lubox never trailed, but also never led by more than two holes. Sapovitz won 17 to draw within one before both parred 18.
Fay also closed strongly to edge Mason Gilman, 3 and 1. The two were even through 12 before Fay won 13, 16 and 17.
Malloy survived the longest match of the day, going 20 holes with Peter Kazounis. The two did not halve a hole until the ninth. Five different times Kazounis took a lead but Malloy came back to tie it before winning on the 20th.
The girls’ division is about newcomers emerging as contenders. The three matches held Wednesday were won by 13-yerar-old Morgan MacLeod and two 14-year-olds, Alise Knudson and Ava Santamaria.
MacLeod’s match was one to remember. She played Hanley Correia, who at nine years old is thought to be the youngest player ever to take part in the event. The two staged a back and forth match that was not decided until MacLeod won the 18th hole to take a 1-up decision.
It was unusual, to say the least, with the two players rooting for each when they hit good shots. Correia, who weighs about 55 pounds, made a birdie when she chipped in on the 10th hole. Correia also won the 11th to go 2-up. But MacLeod rallied to square the match and then went ahead for the first time when she won the 18th.
Santamaria fired a 39 on the front nine as she took the lead and went on to a 6-and-5 decision over Haley Baldwin. Knudson trailed Mackenzie Conley, 2-up at the turn and did not win a hole on the front side. But she then made four pars and two bogeys as she won the first six holes on the back and took a 4-and-3 victory.
Those three join the medalist, Lauren Dohoney, an All-Stater as a freshman this year for Bay View, in Thursday’s quarters. The semis will be contested Thursday afternoon.
By: Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE _ If first impressions are lasting impressions, then Andrew O’Leary will have much success on the golf course in coming years.
O’Leary, one of the top junior players in New England, took part in an RIGA event for the first time on Tuesday and stole the show, firing a 4-under-par 65 at Agawam Hunt to earn medalist honors in the 96th Junior Championship.
He needed all five birdies he made because he won the medal by only one. Defending champion Patrick Welch, one of his playing partners, also had a great day with a 66. Joey Tucker, the beaten finalist to Welch at Pawtucket last year, made it an impressive threesome at the top with a 2-under 67.
Among the girls, Lauren Dohoney, an All-Stater for Bay View this year, led a small (seven players) field with an 86. Because of the small field, Dohoney will receive a first-round bye in match play. The girls’ field includes Hanley Correia of Ledgemont, who at age nine, became one of the youngest players in tournament history. Correia, who said she has been playing golf since she was 3 ½, shot a 97.
Beyond that, the day was made memorable because of the performance by the new guy, O’Leary, and the reigning champion, Welch. They put on a Major League display on a day that began in light rain and ended in sunshine.
O’Leary attends Catholic Memorial High in West Roxbury, Mass. His family joined Pawtucket Country Club this year making him eligible to take part in RIGA events. A tall, rangy player, he has won numerous honors, to the point where he already has accepted a golf scholarship offer from Notre Dame even though he still has one year of high school remaining. Just last week, O’Leary finished second in the Mass Juniors, which was held at stroke play rather than match play, as is the case in Rhode Island.
``I’ve known him from when I was 10 or 11, from playing in Challenge Cup events,’’ said Welch. ``He’s good. We’ve played in a lot of Challenge Cup events together.’’
O’Leary wasted no time doing damage. He birdied 3, 5, 6 and 7 to go 4-under on the front side. He and Welch both birdied both 3 and 6, Agawam’s only two par 5s.
``I hit driver and four-iron and two putted on 3,’’ O’Leary said. ``Then it was the same thing, four-iron and two putts on the second one.’’ His only bogey came with a three-putt on 16.
Welch had five birds and two bogeys on the way to his 66. Sean Irons, the third player in the threesome, recorded a fine 72 to easily qualify for the championship division, including three birds of his own, but got left behind by his playing partners.
It took a score of 76 to qualify for the championship division.
Part of the story for the week is who is not playing. The two Interscholastic League champions, Will Dickson and Alexis Florio, are not entered, even though they are eligible. The event changed this year to allow 18-year-olds to take part. That change was made by the USGA and most states are going along.
However, Dickson leaves Thursday for Georgia Tech, where he has accepted a golf scholarship, thus will not be around for the last two days of the tournament. He caddied Tuesday for his Moses Brown teammate, Rio Holzwarth. Florio is in San Diego where she competed over the last two days in the U.S. Women’s Amateur, but did not make the cut.
Davis Chatfield, the 2016 RIGA Amateur champion, decided not to take part because he leaves next week to begin school at Notre Dame. Chatfield also is coming off at rib injury that prevented him from defending his Amateur title last month.
Also, Colin Sutyla and Allison Paik, two other rising stars, are in Mississippi taking part in the Big I Youth Classic.
Tuesday, August 8 - 18 Holes Stroke Play
Wednesday, August 9 - Round of 16 Matches
Thursday, August 10 - Quarterfinal AM & Semifinal Matches PM
Friday, August 11 - Finals
Dress Code: Proper golf attire is expected. Collared shirt and Slacks
or Knee length
shorts only. Examples of attire not acceptable: short shorts,
cargo shorts, athletic
shorts, jeans, jean shorts, tank tops and
t-shirts. The same is expected of spectators.
Cart and Caddie policy: Players are permitted to employ a caddie.
A parent, teacher or coach are not eligible to caddie. Motorized
are not allowed. Spectator carts are not available.
& Beverage: Will be available all
days on a cash basis.
to: Agawam Hunt