Providence Journal Article by Kevin McNamara - R.I. Amateur: Billy Forcier returns home in style
Quarterfinal & Semifinal Recap
By Paul Kenyon
WARWICK _ The rain stayed away long enough on Thursday to let the players determine that it will be one guy from Wannamoisett against a player from Metacomet for the championship of the 112th RIGA Amateur at Valley.
However, the storm did not stay away long enough to determine who those players will be.
The weather, which has been one of the dominant stories all week, went crazy in the middle of the afternoon, preventing the semifinal matches from being completed. Billy Forcier led Bobby Leopold, 1 up through eight holes, in a meeting between two Wannamoisett players. Jamie Lukowicz was ahead of Ricky Audette Jr., 3 up through nine in a showdown between Metacomet members.
Tournament officials spent most of the day monitoring rain and thunder storms in the area. Several cells just missed Valley early in the afternoon. About 2:15, though, a cell filled with electricity headed straight for the course and Bob Ward, the RIGA executive director, and Jim McKenna, the tournament director, ordered the players off the course.
One cell did move through, but then the rain stopped. Radar indicated that there would be a lull of perhaps 20 to 30 minutes before another cell arrived. Ward gave the players the option of going back out knowing that they likely would get in only one or two more holes before a bigger storm arrived. The players decided to wait it out.
At about 3:30, a monsoon-like rain arrived and the temperature, already cool for July, dropped even lower. There were parts of the course under water before the rain came to a halt. Tournament officials went out about 4:30 to see if the course was playable. Finally, just after 5 p.m., Ward announced play was over for the day.
``The course is pretty much saturated and there is more rain coming,’’ Ward said. ``We’re going to attempt to resume play at 7 a.m.’’ The course will open at 6 for practice. There will be no carts allowed.
Lukowicz asked if the start could be pushed back to 7:30. Forcier suggested 9 a.m.
``Remember,’’ Ward said, ``you potentially could have 45 holes to play tomorrow.’’
The players voted for a 7:30 start.
The semifinal matches were being played totally differently.
Lukowicz and Audette were going back and forth. They did not halve a single hole on the front nine. Audette birdied the first hole. Lukowicz won the next four in a row with three pars and a bird. Audette drained a 30-footer for bird to win the sixth. Lukowicz took the seventh with a par, Audette’s par was enough to win eight and Lukowicz went back 3 up with a bird on nine.
Forcier and Leopold, on the other hand, halved every hole except one. Forcier won the second with a bird. The two halved the other par-5, the fifth, with birdies. Forcier, who earlier this summer won the Four-Ball with partner Michael Phillipp, is playing a bit on edge. He is keeping his cell phone close. His girl friend, Molly Pettengill, is expecting a child at any time.
``She is due Aug. 1, but when she had an appointment the other day the doctor said she probably will have it before then,’’ Forcier said.
The morning quarterfinals insured that it would be Wannamoisett against Metacomet for the title.
Leopold stopped medalist Joe Tucker, 3 and 2. Leopold lost only one hole in the match, to Tucker’s birdie on the par-3 12th. Leopold made only one bogey in the contest. Forcier never led against Kevin Silva, the 2015 champion, until he birdied the 19th hole. Forcier three times came from behind to tie the match, the last when he birdied the 16th. Both players parred 17 and birdied the par-5 18th to force the extra hole.
Audette won three holes in a four-hole stretch at the start of the back nine and went on to a 3 and 2 victory over fellow Metacomet member Bruce Heterick. Lukowicz went out in 4-under 32, including deuces on each of the par-3s, to take control against Ryan Pelletier. The final margin was 5 and 3.
Round of 32 & Round of 16 Recap
By Paul Kenyon
WARWICK _ For two days in a row, Joe Tucker has been perhaps the happiest guy at the 112th RIGA Amateur at Valley Country Club. With good reason.
The recent Hendricken grad found a way to follow up on his terrific play in qualifying, when he won medalist honors at 5-under-par 139, with two more outstanding performances as match play began.
First, he rallied from 2-down through nine in the first round to beat Jay Barrow in the morning, 2-up. Tucker had three birdies and an eagle on the back nine, including a bird on the last hole, to clinch the victory. Then, after lunch, he and Eric Marchetti, last year’s medalist, staged an absolutely sensational contest in the second round.
Marchetti was 3-up through 11. But Tucker, who is headed to Central Connecticut in the fall, swept the next six holes. He went 4-under-par in that stretch to come away with a 3-and-1 decision.
Tucker moves into the quarterfinals where he will face two-time champion Bobby Leopold. Also advancing were 2015 champion Kevin Silva, Four-Ball champion Billy Forcier and former Stroke Play champ Jamie Lukowicz. Another former Four-Ball winner, Ryan Pelletier, advanced as did two more of Lukowicz’ Metacomet clubmates, Ricky Audette and Bruce Heterick.
Three of matches were still on the course when a storm struck shortly after 4:30 p.m. Play was delayed until shortly before 6 p.m. Audette went out and finished a 4-and-2 victory over Junior Champion Patrick Welch, Pelletier topped Kevin Marcoux, 2 and 1, and Heterick held off Dave Jones, 3 and 2, just as another storm cell was nearing the course.
While there was excellent play all over the place, it was Tucker who stole the spotlight for the second day in a row. His match with Marchetti was one for the record books.
``This was the best match I’ve ever seen and played in,’’ Tucker said. ``I think my caddy said our best-ball was 11-under for the day. That’s pretty insane.’’
Tucker was 3-under on the front. But he was 1-down because Marchetti was 4-under. Marchetti, who just graduated from URI and will stay on as an assistant to coach Gregg Burke while he studies for a Master’s Degree, won 10 with a par and 11 with a bird to go 3-up. Tucker did not get ruffled.
``I’ve had more experience now. I can handle being a little bit down in the match and still have hope that I can bring it back,’’ said Tucker, a finalist in the Junior Championshp last summer. ``And I really like the back side.’’
He won six holes in a row, four with birds after falling 3-down.
His reward was a date with Leopold, a two time-champion. Leopold was a model of consistency as he beat two of Tucker’s Hendricken teammates, Sean Irons 4 and 3, then Colin Sutyla, 2 and 1.
Leopold is form Coventry, as is Lukowicz. Lukowicz eliminated Eli Epstein-Lubow, 3 and 2, and then fellow Coventry resident Seamus Fennelly, 6 and 5. Lukowicz lost the first hole to Fennelly when his opening drive, right down the middle, could not be found. He then lost only one more hole the rest of the way. Lukowicz will face Pelletier, who made it into match play on the number.
Forcier (he’s from Coventry, too) and Silva moved on by beating Johnson & Wales-Miami stars in the second round. Forcier, who has been playing as well as anyone in the state all season, was 3-under, without a bogey, in ousting Jake Bauer, 3 and 2, while Silva won the last two holes to hold off Matt Costaregni, 2 up.
Silva’s match was the last to finish before the storm. It actually ended after players had been told a storm was coming and they could stop play if they wished. At first, the decision was made optional for the players and Silva and Costaregni were the only ones who opted to continue, in part because they were so close to finishing.
For a half hour or so, RIGA officials had carts ready to rush players into safety if and when the storm arrived. Officials had computers going monitoring the storms as they came across Connecticut. Finally, about 4:20, the clouds darkened, there were rumbles of thunder and even several bolts of lightning coming from the direction of the Warwick malls, just as Silva and Costaregni finished. They were barely in the safety of the clubhouse before it began pouring.
Bob Ward, the RIGA director, called the six players who were still competing into the clubhouse. He told them that the storm cell was a big one and it was not likely anyone would be able to play any more golf. But with at least three hours of daylight remaining, he was going to wait.
``It’s just not safe enough for any of you to be out there,’’ Ward said. ``Just hang around for a while we’ll meet here again at 6 o’clock. If anything happens before then, I will get in touch with you. I have all your cell phone numbers.’’
When skies did clear sooner than expected, Ward notified everyone and play was back on just before 6 p.m.
Second Round Recap
By Paul Kenyon
WARWICK _ Everyone at the 112th Rhode Island Golf Association Amateur waited for about 12 hours on Tuesday for something special to happen until finally, at about 8 p.m. as dusk was arriving, Joe Tucker provided it.
The recent Hendricken grad, who was runner-up in the State Juniors to Patrick Welch last year, birdied his last four holes to earn medalist honors at 5-under-par 139.
His effort was impressive under any circumstances, but even more because it followed a stretch in which he made four bogeys on the first five holes of the back nine. Tucker’s 69 was the low round in the day delayed for 2 and ½ hours because of a heavy early morning rain storm.
His work stole the top spot from Tyler Cooke, who also was among the late starters. Cooke came in with a 70, including two birds on his last three holes, to finish with a 71 and 140 total. Cooke was accepting congratulations from onlookers for being the medalist as Tucker was stealing it away by flying home with his run of four straight birds to finish.
``This means a lot to me,’’ Tucker said of earning the top seed. ``I had one tournament in North Carolina where I shot 7-under, but to be 5-under in a tournament like this means a lot.’’ Tucker, who is headed to Central Connecticut, had a terrific high school career earning All-State honors all four years for the Hawks. But he has played in the shadow of Will Dickson and Welch much of the time. Not after what he did on Tuesday.
His 69 included only two pars in his last 13 holes. He had six pars and three birds for 33 on the front. He began the back bogey, par, bogey, bogey, bogey. He had been in the lead beginning the back side, but his name disappeared when he made the four bogeys. He played in the same threesome with four-time champion Brad Valois, who also was playing well and near the top. When they finished, someone approached Valois to see how did, but Valois pointed to Tucker and said, ``He can play.’’
Cooke had a great finish of his own to take the temporary lead at 140. The UConn grad birdied two of his last three for his 71.
A half dozen players took turns on the lead at different times of the long day. Jamie Lukowicz (a 72 despite three three-putts on the last nine) and first-day leader Kevin Silva (73) tied for third at 3-under 141. Lefties Valois and Jake Bauer were next at 142 with 70 and 71, respectively.
In a rarity, exactly 32 players shot 7-over 151 or better to advance to match play. One of the last to get in was Moses Brown star Eli Epstein-Lubow who had a wild 76. He was 5-over on his first three holes on the back nine, but then 3-under in his last six to get in on the number.
RIGA officials had already begun telling players that darkness would require the playoff be postponed until Wednesday morning. When 32 finished at 152, no playoff was required.
The weather was the dominant story most of the day. The early morning rain storm dumped about an inch of rain. It was so heavy at times that the fairway on the par-5 fifth became a river as water headed toward a drain in that area. It forced a delay from the scheduled 8 a.m. start. Officials first announced play would begin at 9:30, but as that time approached and it was still raining, it was pushed back to 10:30.
The day turned pleasant for several hours as players were allowed to lift, clean and place. However, because of the wet conditions, players were not allowed to use motorized carts, although they could use pull carts. The final group did not begin until nearly 4 p.m. Eight players withdrew.
Hall of Famer George Pirie, who easily advanced with a 72 for 146 total, spoke about how proud he was of the club that has been home for him for a half century.
``I wrote a little letter after we played yesterday to our superintendent Frank (Arruda) and his assistant Jay (Cabral),’’ Pirie said. ``Yesterday was superb. I was so proud of this place.’’ The crew did a good job getting the course playable for the second round, but it took a toll.
``It was different today. The greens got a little bumpy, but there is nothing you can do about that.’’
First Round Recap
By Paul Kenyon
WARWICK _ Kevin Silva and Davis Chatfield, the two players who met in the title match of the State Amateur last summer, made news again on Monday when the 112th Amateur got underway at Valley. This time, though, it was for very different reasons.
Silva, who won the tournament two years ago and lost to Chatfield in a dramatic 38-hole match last year, picked up where he left off. He fired a 4-under 68 to take the first-day lead.
Chatfield, who created a sensation when he won the title at age 17, the youngest in tournament history, was knocked out before he could begin his title defense. The Notre Dame-bound star withdrew because of injury.
``He called last night and said he had torn cartilage in his chest,’’ reported Bob Ward, the RIGA’s executive director. ``He said his doctor told him not to play golf for 10 days.’’ That not only knocked him out of the Amateur, but makes him highly questionable for next week’s New England Amateur that will be held at Metacomet.
His loss throws Silva into the role of favorite, but the former pro from Montaup will not lack for challengers. Scores overall were excellent on a beautiful day at a course praised by the players for being in excellent condition.
The Amateur obviously brings out the best in Silva. The former North Carolina star takes the event seriously. He was not familiar with the Valley layout, originally designed by Donald Ross, so he visited the course twice in the past week to prepare.
``I did good preparation,’’ he said. ``I came out and played nine holes on Friday then came here and played yesterday. . . I got a good idea on how the course can play.’’
He overcame an early double bogey (on the fourth hole) with five birdies. The highlight came at the par-5 16th where he got home in two. His eagle putt was a bonus.
``It was the whole length of the green. I was on the front third and the pin was in back,’’ he related. That meant it was about 60 feet. It went in.
Despite his success in this event over the last two years, Silva entered with a low-key attitude.
``I came into this tournament not expecting anything. I’m here trying to do the stroke play qualifying like everybody,’’ he said. ``I haven’t been tearing it up by any means. (I’m not) thinking, `OK, just put me into match play.’ I wanted to grind.’’
Others who got off to strong starts included two-time Stoke Play champion Jamie Lukowicz. He was 2-over through his first six holes, but then went 5-under from there to finish at 3-under 69. Two-time Four-Ball champ Tyler Cooke (with his brother-in-law Bobby Leopold as his partner) also had a 69. Now that his college hockey career at UConn is over, the 25-year-old Cooke is rapidly emerging as a first-tier challenger.
Hendricken All-Stater Joe Tucker eagled the par-4 third, sinking a wedge from 78 yards, and finished with a 70. Rob Grossguth, who reached the finals the last time the event was held at Valley (he lost to Mike Soucy) also came in at 2-under, as did Carnegie Abbey’s Jack Cammisa, who plays for Boston College. Jake Bauer, who is coming in after an NAIA All-American season at Johnson & Wales of Florida, had 71, the same score as his JW teammate Matt Costaregni. URI grad Eric Marchetti, the medalist last year, eagled the par-5 18th to be the final player in red figures, at 71.
The group at even-par 72 was a strong one, including Junior Champion Patrick Welch, former champion Bobby Leopold, four-time winner Brad Valois, URI star Jason Short and Hendricken All-Stater Colin Sutyla. Sutyla had the best start, with birds on five of his first seven holes.
Hall of Famer George Pirie, playing on the course where he is a 21-time club champion, had a 74 that included two birdies in his last three holes.
The 32nd score was at 4-over, meaning the cut for match play after Tuesday’s second round likely will be at 8 or 9 over.
Pre-Qualifying: 18 Holes - Stroke Play