PAWTUCKET — Kolby Simmons, the 2018 Attleboro Area Golf Association champion, was hoping to present himself with an opportunity to repeat as a member of the Final Four at the Rhode Island Golf Association’s Amateur Championship.
A two-time winner of the AAGA Open in 2014 and 2017, Scott Congdon was looking to break 80 and return to the clubhouse on the road to respectability.
Fortunately for North Attleboro’s Simmons, a bogey on No. 17 at Pawtucket Country Club Tuesday did not keep him from returning to the course another day.
“I’ve been playing tournament golf long enough that you have to work your way around the course,” Simmons said. “You just try to keep the ball in front of you. You know that in stroke play, you’re just trying to get yourself close enough to make some birdies or just make par.”
Simmons finished four shots over par at 73 and was placing his golf bag in the trunk of his car wondering if he would be able to land one of the prized 32 spots to advance to match play in the 115th annual event, having to play a wait-and-see game until the last scorecard was recorded.
The field for match play will be completed Wednesday morning as rain forced suspension of play early Tuesday night. One of those spots might be taken by former Bishop Feehan High ace Kyle Hoffman, who had three holes remaining when play was halted after working himself back into contention with five front-side birdies.
Congdon endured triple bogeys on the par-4 No. 1 and 10 holes, which offset his only two birdies over the 36 holes of medal play, to leave him more than a month to think about the AAGA Open.
The projected cut stands at 6-over-par, virtually assuring Simmons, along with former URI and North Attleboro High standout Eric Marchetti, who had a 1-over-par 70 for a two-day total of 143, and defending champion and University of Notre Dame junior Andrew O’Leary of Norfolk, who shot a 2-over-par round of 71 (two birdies, 14 pars) for a leaderboard total of 132.
The 33-year-old Simmons of North Attleboro, via Tri-County High and Rehoboth’s Crestwood CC, has been playing competitive golf for eight years with this his seventh time playing the RIGA Amateur where he advanced to match play for the third time.
“I struggled off the tee, you have to keep it in the fairway here,” Simmons said of the slim margin for error. “It’s short, you want to be playing from the fairway. If you’re playing from the tree line it’s tough to get it close. All of my bogeys were bad tee shots.”
Simmons had just one birdie, on the 380-yard, par-4 No. 3 hole. He inked a dozen pars on his scorecard, but also had five bogeys, three on the front side (at No. 5, 6 and 9) to ruin a bid for a sub-par round.
Marchetti (two birdies, 13 pars) was superb through 11 holes, stationed at 2-under-par with birdies on the par-3 No. 5 and No. 7 holes. But his bid for a sub-par round waned as well with back-side bogeys at No. 12, 13 and 16.
Congdon (two birdies, 10 pars) managed to finish with a 78 and a two-day total of 163, but the Foxborough CC member was far from satisfied.
“You have to keep it in play here off the tee, it’s difficult in that respect,” Congdon said of the tight course conditions. “You have to keep the ball in play, I have not done that at all — 85 times Monday.”
Also missing the cut were Mansfield’s Mike Philipp, the former Bryant University standout with Congdon, who came in with a pair of birdies and 12 pars for a 2-over-par round of 71 and a 36-hole total of 144; Seekonk’s Cam Moniz (two birdies, 10 pars) who came in at 71 for an 8-over-par score of 146; former D-R Falcon Sam Taraian (one birdie, 11 pars), who came in at 75 for a two-day total of 146; Mansfield’s Ben Sapovits, via Providence’s Wheeler School (two birdies, eight pars), who finished with a 5-over-par round of 74 and a 36-hole score of 156; and former AHS Bombardier Chris Hanson of the Ledgemont CC (one birdie, five pars), who came in at 83 for a two-day total of 163.
Congdon knocked down birdie putts, both inside of 10 feet, on the par-4 No. 9 and 18 holes, but scoring well was not in the cards for him.
“The course was set up fair, it was about the same both days,” Congdon said. “I haven’t been playing much, but that’s not an excuse. Every shot counts here, it’s not like going out with your buddies on the weekend.”
Simmons has played only one other tournament this COVID-19 pandemic shortened season, the Amateur Invitational of New England at the New England CC in Bellingham.
“I haven’t been playing much at all,” said Simmons, who had his Falls A.C League each Wednesday night at Wentworth Hills CC in Plainville canceled due to coronavirus safety protocol. “I played Foxborough a couple of days ago,” Simmons said. “I play about once a week, it’s been difficult to get it going. It looked like the cut for the playoffs was going to be five or six over (par).
“Last year, I was playing well and made a run to the semifinals. Match play is more my game — if I can hit fairways, I play well. I can score.”