NORTON — Not many play the 18-hole layout at Norton Country Club better than Billy White, and that proved true again during the final round of the Attleboro Area Golf Association Open on Sunday.
White, the reigning Norton CC club champion, shot a 2-under-par 69, with a 33 on the backside, to conclude his four days with a 19-over-par score of 305. White, the 2007 AAGA Open Champion, had backside birdies on the 370-yard par-4 11th and consecutive birdies on the 524-yard par-5 14th and 452-yard par-4 15th.
“I hit the ball really good — irons off the tee — but I really putted well,” White said. “It’s the same with any of these guys, when you play it all the time, obviously you have an advantage.”
“I was too far back to catch them,” White said of challenging for the title, suffering a double bogey at No. 8. White had front-side birdies on the 458-yard par-4 No. 2 hole and the 438-yard par-4 No. 6 hole, and played even par 36 through nine holes. White plays the Norton CC at least three times a week, having previously shot a 30 on the backside, while his 33 matched his round for the NCC club championship win over David Yurek. “Even though I was even at the turn, it would have to have been a major collapse by those guys (Derek Johnson, Scott Congdon) to get back in it.”
Sixteen-time AAGA Open champion Marc Forbes did not throw his clubs in the pond at the conclusion of his 50th (and last) tournament appearance, shooting a 78 and breaking 80 on three of the four days. “It was not what I had for a goal, but for the way that I played it, was pretty good.” Forbes had high praise for a pair of his “next generation” partners, Norfolk’s Spencer Dumas of Xaverian High and North Attleboro High grad Tyler Sinacola. “Guys like that are the future of the game, the future of the tournament,” Forbes said, citing Sinacola hitting his drive at No. 14 nearly 100 yards longer than his.
Ben Grant, the Beacon (UMass Boston) from Mansfield High (2007), called a two-shot penalty on himself last year at the Heather Hill CC for having more than his allowance of clubs in his bag. He flagged himself again at the 545-yard, par-5 No. 5 hole Sunday — a four-stroke penalty for hitting into a hazard, then mistakenly hitting Scott Congdon’s provisional ball, after not discovering the miscue until marking his putt on the green. Grant was assessed an “11” on the hole, taking himself out of consideration for the championship, having entered the final round just three shots behind Congdon. Under AAGA Tournament Committee rulings, Grant went back to the spot of his first shot and played a “drop” there. Congdon had sprayed his initial drive left onto the No. 1 fairway, but then hit a provisional ball into the rough and never picked the ball up.
Two-time (2015, ’16) AAGA Open champ Davis Chatfield, the pride of Bishop Feehan High, returns to Notre Dame University for his third year this week. He played at the U.S. Amateur Championship at historic Pinehurst CC (N.C.) last week, shooting rounds of 76 and 79, but did not make the cut. “I hit the ball great, but I didn’t play all that great. The course is really tough, the greens are so firm and so fast that they couldn’t hold anything.”
Geoff Burgess was in the lead after two days of competition, but struggled home with an 81 at Norton. “I started great (four straight pars), then I triple-bogeyed No. 9 and that deflated me,” the Crystal Lakes CC champion said. “I was right in the mix (five shots back entering Sunday’s round), I hung around then I had a triple bogey at No. 15 too. I had some bad holes.”
Foxboro High grad and Bryant University sophomore Chad Bearce was among the leaders at the turn, carding a 39, but then had a double bogey at No. 13 and a “9” on the par-5 No. 14 hole, hitting into two hazards. “But, I did get up and down from the hazard, so that was a highlight,” Bearce said. “Top 10 is obviously the goal, but I’m not at these guys’ level yet. Next year, who knows?” He finished in a tie for 14th, improving upon his 26th spot in 2018.
Honey, it’s in the bag! Or rather, where is my bag? The Foxborough CC’s Brian Kronmiller drove into the parking lot of the Norton CC Sunday morning thinking that his golf bag was in the trunk of the car. But his wife had taken his car and he took her car — the one without the golf bag! So Kronmiller borrowed the bag and clubs of New England PGA representative Adam Winiarz, the former Norton High and Bryant University runner. Unfortunately, they didn’t help much: Kronmiller came in with an 83.
“I was dog-tired out there,” North Attleboro High and Western New England College Golden Bear Tyler Sinacola said, breathing a sigh of relief after he came into the clubhouse with a respectable backside of 2-over-par 37 to finish his four days of 319. Sinacola was a member of the Hockomock League champion Rocketeer golf team in 2016 and is a sophomore member of the Division III WNEC program. Now a Foxborough CC member, he was a mere 1-over-par through the first eight holes.
Norton CC club runner-up David Yurek also showed off a home-course advantage as he carded a 1-over par 72, being even-par 36 on the frontside. He birdied three of the first five holes and played the three backside par 5s at 1-under par.
Twenty-nine-year old Grant Certuse, via Mansfield High (2008) and a Norton CC member, came in with an 84, a round that included four birdies. “But I broke 40 just once (at Wentworth Hills) over the four days. The courses are not so much difficult as the pressure that you put on yourself, and it becomes mentally draining.”
The AAGA calendar of competition is not finished, as the Senior Two-Ball Tournament is slated for Sept. 23 at the Chemawa Golf Course, and the John “Buck” Renner Two-Ball Tournament will be held Oct. 5-6 at Wentworth Hills.
If there is ever a barometer for the competitive level of Derek Johnson, it is his caddy, former fellow King Philip High Warrior Pat Kelleher, his bag-toter of three decades. “I told Derek that I don’t want to wait another 30 years for the next one,” he said of the partnership. “Derek played as steady for all four days as I’ve seen him play,” Kelleher said. “He was in the right frame of mind from the first tee on the first day. He was not nervous, even at Norton where he has trouble. He was composed.”