| || |
Senior Division Final Results
By Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE _ As head-to-head duels go, the one staged Tuesday by Bobby Leopold and Brad Valois will go down as one of the best the RIGA has seen in years.
Rhode Island’s two dominant players put on a great show before Leopold took advantage of a late mistake by Valois and won by three. Leopold posted a closing 68, which added to his opening 66 gave him a dazzling 6-under-par 134 total at Metacomet. Valois registered a 69 despite a double-bogey six after tree trouble on the uphill par-4 17th and finished at 137.
The final member of the last threesome on the course, George Pirie, took third overall with a 72 and 139 total. Pirie also won the Senior Division, even though he competed from the back tees while most of the others in the 55-and-over division took advantage of the RIGA’s tee-it-forward program and played from the white tees.
The title was the third for Leopold in the event. He also won in 2011 and 2012. It was one of the most satisfying wins in his impressive RIGA career.
The insurance man did not make a bogey in the first 27 holes. But he had a battle all the way as he and Valois turned it into a horse race that saw both driving down the stretch. Not that the battle between the two is a surprise. The two have been the cream of the RIGA crop for some time and they played like it in breezy conditions over the beautifully conditioned Metacomet course.
``It was a pleasure watching them,’’ said Pirie. ``That was my dream pairing getting to play with them. They’re both sensational players and my friends. The put on a show.’’
Leopold and Valois two went at it from the start. Leopold, beginning the day with a one-stroke lead, birdied the first hole. So did Valois. Leopold birdied the par-5 second, too. And so did Valois. Leopold birdied the fifth and went out in 3-under 33. Valois birdied 8 and 9 for a 32 on the front, pulling him even and turning it into strictly a two-man race.
Leopold made his first bogey of the tournament on the long par-3 10th, and responded with birds at 11 and 12. Valois also birdied 11. Leopold got his lead to two strokes before Valois birdied the 16th to pull within one.
The 17th turned out to be the key swing. Valois drove through the trees and then hit a tree trying to come out. The ball dropped straight down. He punched out but still was not on the green in three. He chipped on and two putted for six.
The victory meant much for Leopold.
``I haven’t been winning anything,’’ he said. ``I was second in the New Englands. I’ve had a lot of close chances but I haven’t won anything for a while. You begin to question if you’re doing something wrong. Why can’t I win? I go home and my son is always asking me if I won a trophy. Today I can tell him I won a trophy.’’
The Senior Division contest was just as good as the overall competition. Pirie won a terrific three-way battle in that one with Dean Parziale and Paul Quigley. The 66-year-old Pirie was one of the few players in the 55-and-over division who competed from the black tee while most of the others used the shorter blue tees. Parziale and Quigley, competing more than an hour ahead of Pirie, gave the doctor a target. Parziale added a 73 to his opening 67 to finish at even-par 140.
The age defying 71-year-old Quigley beat his age by four strokes, with a sparkling 67 for 141. It was the second time this year Quigley has shot his age. But he had to settle for third because Pirie shot a 72 for 139.
Pirie was not aware of where he stood in the senior race but he saw Parziale head out and join the fans watching him play with Leopold and Valois.
``I thought that might mean something but I didn’t know where I stood,’’ Pirie said. ``I just knew I had to keep grinding.’’ In a style he has displayed so often, he birdied 16 to pull even with Parziale, birdied 17 to go ahead then lipped out a 10-footer for still another bird on 18 and won by one.
Quigley, Parziale and Pirie are now the top three players in the Senior Player-of-the-Year contest head to the Senior Amateur Sept. 13-14 at Triggs.
Round 1 Recap
By Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE _ Dean Parziale does not have the same history in RIGA events as Bobby Leopold, George Pirie and Brad Valois. On Monday, though, Parziale was right there battling for the lead with those other guys.
In some ways, Parziale had the most exciting day of anyone in the opening round of the association’s 23rd Mid-Am Championship at Metacomet.
Leopold, Pirie and Valois have made it a habit to put their name high on RIGA leaderboards. Rarely, though, have all three been at the top at the same time as they did Monday.
Leopold holds the lead, thanks to a bogey-free 4-under 66. Hall of Famer Pirie recorded a 67 and so did four-time Amateur champion Valois to be part of a three-way tie for second.
He needed every shot because his 67 was good enough for only a tie for the Senior Division lead with the day’s surprise star, Parziale. Parziale turned in perhaps the most impressive performance of all. Playing from the blue, rather than the black tees, Parziale carded a 67 that included eagles on the only two par-5s on the course.
Parziale, who stands in second place to Paul Quigley in the association’s Senior Player of the Year race, got home on the par-5 second hole with a four hybrid and canned a 15-footer for eagle. Then, on the par-5 ninth, he hit a seven iron within three feet for another eagle. He also had birds of 4, 14 and 16 so that even with four bogeys he posted a 3-under total on the day.
As it is, the 56-year-old Parziale has only a share of the Senior Division lead because Pirie is in that division too, even though he is playing from the back tees. Seniors who play from the back tees are eligible to compete on both the overall and the Senior Division competition.
Pirie had a memorable day of his own with four birdies and only one bogey (on the third hole) playing from the back, which is 6,501-yards. At age 66, he came within one stroke of shooting his age. He refuses to take advantage of the policy the RIGA instituted two years ago allowing players 55 and older to play from shorter tees.
``I won’t be doing that any time soon,’’ he said of teeing it forward. Pirie won this event in 2000, when it was held at Valley, his home course.
The overall leader, Leopold, did not create nearly as much excitement as Pirie and Parziale did in the Senior Division. Leopold, in fact, credited the relaxed atmosphere with helping him have such a good day.
``It’s easy when you don’t think about it too much,’’ he said.
Valois shot 67 and was a bit disappointed. Playing on his home course, he went out in 4-under 32 and when he birdied the 243-yard par-3 12th, stood at 5-under. But then he doubled the par-4 14th and settled for his 67.
``I missed a five-footer on 11 and missed a six-footer on 13, then got mad and did something stupid. I’ve done it before,’’ he said.
Jamie Lukowicz, who has won this event each of the last two years is not competing because of work requirements.
Player Information Sheet
Seniors: Will have the option to play a forward set of tees. Those
seniors who have played forward this year will be assigned
the forward set. If you have not played forward this year
or have and would not like to, please email [email protected]