Match Play Set for 119th State Amateur

By Joe McDonald

RIGA Senior Writer


WARWICK – Now the fun begins.


After two days of qualifying, including a playoff between seven players for the final four spots, the Round of 32 will get underway Wednesday for the 119thState Amateur Championship at Warwick Country Club. 




Defending State Amateur champion Bobby Leopold is once again the top seed after finishing as the medalist with a two-day total of 65-70 – 135. Jonathan Cooper and Bennett Masterson were the only other players under par at 2-under, while Joey Iacifano finished even par. 


Leopold is looking to become a five-time winner of this championship, while the rest of the field will attempt rewrite history. 



Masterson had more than a few opportunities to dethrone Leopold from the top spot during Round 2 Tuesday. Masterson, who stood at 6-under, faltered down the stretch with a bogey on No. 15, a double-bogey on No. 16 and another bogey on No. 17. He finished with a par on No. 18. 


“It wasn’t a super-fun finish,” Masterson said. “The course was super hard today, but 70 is a pretty good score . . . I played 14 holes of almost perfect golf, then a couple of bad swings, a couple bad breaks, but besides that I feel really good about my golf game. I’m not worried.” 


Masterson does not lack confidence and he believes his game is where it needs to be heading into match play. 


“People are going to make 1,000 bogeys out here, so you just need to plug along and be really smart. The birdies will come when they come, but you can’t force it. You grind away out here and it should take care of itself.” 


Masterson was the No. 2 seed in 2023 but lost in the Round of 16 to past State Amateur champion, Brad Valois, 5&3. So, Masterson understands the situation this time around. 


“It doesn’t really matter where you seed, you just hope that you get a better route to the finals,” he said. 


Speaking of past champions, a total of seven advanced to match play, including Tommy McCormick (2005), Kevin Silva (2015), Valois (2006, 2007, 2011, 2013), Leopold (2009, 2014, 2021, 2023), Billy Forcier (2017), Jamie Lukowicz (2020) and Kevin Blaser (2022). 


Ace in the Hole


A week ago, Peter Alofsin served as a caddie at the 44th U.S. Senior Open at Newport Country Club. This week he competed in the State Amateur and recorded his second-career ace. Alofsin, 22, of Wanumetonomy G&CC, record the ace on No. 9 at Warwick CC. He hit a 9-iron from 170 yards. He explained he started his shot a little left of the pin and the ball landed on the right edge of the green. He looked away for a split second. 



“Then the ball just disappeared. It was unbelievable. I really don’t know how else to describe it,” he said. 


He notched his first ace at Wanumetonomy, while playing with his dad, Peter, on his birthday. On Tuesday, his dad served as his caddie. 


“It’s cool that my dad has seen both of mine, but my dad looked at me right after I made my second and said that I’m still two behind him. He still found a way to make me feel down on myself,” Petey said with a laugh. 


After Alofsin made the ace, he then bogeyed the next five holes and said he could only laugh about it. Despite the hole-in-one, Alofsin did not make the cut after a two-day total of 76-78 – 154. Still, it was a special two days for him here. 


“Warwick’s a special place,” he said. “I’ve played here a handful of times. I played here in the Hendricken Invitational when I was in high school, and I have a few friends who are members here, so I’ve had the pleasure to play here a few times. This place is just something else. This place is a treat.” 


A Walk Down Memory Lane


Mark Iacono’s final scorecard doesn’t even come close to describing how thrilled he was this week to compete in the State Amateur. A member of Warwick CC, he shot a two-day total of 80-90 – 170 and missed the cut on his home course, but the experience of competing again meant the world to the 51-year-old attorney. His family joined Warwick CC when he was 12-years-old and the reason he started playing golf was to spend time with his father, Vin. 


Mark grew to love the game and played in several RIGA tournaments. He last played in the State Amateur in 1999 when the championship was held at Ledgemont Country Club. So, after a 25-year hiatus, the fact that it was being held on his home course made him decide to give it a bid once again. He qualified at Foster Country to earn his chance to compete at Warwick this week. 



“It was great, and to do it at your home course just adds to it,” he said. “Regardless of what you shoot, you go in with a lot of confidence, feeling like you can hopefully do well, represent your club and it’s nice to hear other people compliment the course and the club. It’s special and it’s the reason why I tried to play this year. I wouldn’t have really thought about trying to qualify if it wasn’t here, so to have done it felt good.” 


It helped that his family, including his 84-year-old father, were in attendance this week and lending their support and advice. 


“I feel like I’m 16 again,” Mark said with a laugh. “He was telling me, ‘Make sure you stay hydrated’ or ‘it’s going to be hot, bring bananas.’ So, seeing how into it he was a lot of fun, too. It definitely brought me back to my junior golf days, or college days.” 


Iacono enjoyed the experience so much that he’s considering giving it another shot next summer.