O'Neill, O'Leary Win 31st Senior Four-Ball Gross Championship

By Joe McDonald

and Brady Garthee

RIGA Staff Writers


MIDDLETOWN – Chaotic end to Senior Four-Ball Gross Championship turns to redemption and glory.


Chris O’Neill and Brian O’Leary needed a little bit of Irish luck to capture the 31st edition of this tournament Wednesday at Wanumetonomy Golf & Country Club. 


Thanks to an outstanding 40-foot birdie putt by O’Neill, they outlasted the teams of Peter Alofsin/Luke Hyder and Chris Roloff/George Potsidis to win the championship on the second playoff hole after each team finished tied at 4-under for the tournament. The first playoff hole wasn’t kind to O’Neill, but his teammate bailed him out and birdied the hole, matching Alofsin and Hyder. On the second playoff hole (the par-3 17th hole) both Alofsin and O’Neill landed their respective tee shots on the green. Alofsin putted first and just missed it before O’Neill sank his for the victory. 



“Brian made a great birdie on 16 to keep us going,” admitted O’Neill. “Luckily, I had an opportunity to see a competitor’s putt before me because I was reading it the other way. Then I saw his putt and Brian gave me a great read and I just trusted it. It’s a great feeling . . . I’m still a little stunned that I made the putt and that I’m a champion. I love playing with Brian – tremendous player – and I’m very comfortable with him.” 






Day 2 was nothing but the best. Grade-A weather, leaderboard shakeups, and playoff golf are three phrases that highlighted the round, but the change in the leaderboard didn’t set in until the back nine. 


Day 1 leaders Chris Roloff and George Potsidis did not back up the impressive 6-under (64) performance they had on Tuesday the way that they envisioned, posting a second-round score of 2-over (72) to finish the tournament 4-under. The team out of Wannamoisett CC squeaked their way into a three-team-playoff to decide the championship before ultimately falling short on the first playoff hole.  


The next two teams featured in the playoff burst onto the scene late with impressive rounds.


Alofsin and Hyder, from Wanumetonomy G&CC, were consistent both days, posting totals of 68 (2-under) for a tournament score of 4-under. With three back-nine birdies from Hyder, the two were able to punch their ticket to the playoff before failing to reach the promised land on the second playoff hole.



Then there was the pair from Pawtucket CC -  O’Leary and O’Neill.


They were consistent during the two-day tournament, shooting the exact same numbers as Alofsin and Hyder. At the end of the first round, O’Leary and O’Neill sat in a spot where they could be a dark horse to win the championship and that’s exactly what they were Wednesday.  


The Irish duo went on a tear on the front nine. They birdied one-third of the front nine and set themselves up to be champions through 18 holes. However, their wheels got loose on 18 and the bogeyed the hole, establishing the third and final team for the playoff. 


The playoff holes were 16 (par 5), 17 (par 3), and 18 (par 4), but only two of the holes were needed to decide the winners. Roloff and Potsidis bogeyed 16 while the teams from Wanumetonomy and Pawtucket both birdied the hole. 


With members surrounding the 17th green, the stage was set for a fantastic finish.


The team of O’Leary and O’Neill were set up about 40 feet away from the hole. But that was no problem for O’Neill as he drained the putt for birdie to walk away as champions of the tournament. 


For O’Neill, this was his first RIGA title in 48 years. While talking through his mindset before making the putt, O’Neill said that he was lucky. Nonetheless the pair from Pawtucket took home the 31st Senior Four-Ball Gross Championship.  


“We kind of messed up the 18th hole, but we said, ‘Let’s redeem ourselves’ and we birdied 16 and 17 (in the playoff) and Chris made a great putt to get his first title in 48 years,” O’Leary said. 


They produced a consistent effort both days of the tournament and held it together until they collected their trophies. 


“Chris always says, ‘Let’s try to get two in the fairway and two on the green’ and if we’re both putting it takes the pressure off,” O’Leary said of the team’s overall play. 


The entire field enjoyed two incredible days at Wanumetonomy G&CC. The conditions and weather were outstanding and all the players raved about the course. O’Neill made it a point during Wednesday’s round to introduce himself to the Wanumetonomy superintendent Shaun Marcellus and thanked him for the outstanding conditions. 


“I just wanted to tell him how great this place really is,” explained O’Neill. “It’s in fabulous condition. It’s always tough when the wind’s blowing, but as far as the condition, it’s A1. Congratulations to the entire team here for the job they do with this golf course.” 


In fact, O’Leary competed in the State Amateur here in 2022 and he thought it was in tremendous shape then and couldn’t believe how much better it was this time.


“It’s actually getting better and better,” he said. “They’re doing all the right things here and they’re really lucky with their superintendent.” 


The only thing missing was a rainbow over Narragansett Bay.