MASSENA - As the final threesome of the Section 10 Golf Championships Medalist competition began its back nine at the Massena Golf and Country Club, on Saturday, a chilly zephyr off the St. Lawrence River turned in a gusting wind with a frigid bite.
But Massena junior Hunter Francis, who took second in last years championship, was feeling some heat.
Francis and the defending champion in Brushton-Moira sophomore Devin Delisle shared the first-day lead at 79 but on the front nine the complexion in the threesome changed. Delisle encountered extreme putting problems slipping to a 43 while Francis posted a 40 and OFA senior Brandon Mullin, who shot a 42 on Friday, sank a series of long putts, including a meandering 50-footer, in shooting a 39.
Mullin cut the difference to one with a par on the 11th hole while Francis and Delisle bogeyed.Then came, the par three 12th hole, which became the fulcrum for the final swing of the tournament. Francis jarred an 18-foot par saver while Mullin bogeyed in the first of a series of three-putts in a slide to a back-nine 43 and a fourth place finish at 82-82-164.
I putted so well on the front nine but really struggled on the back. But it was a great experience to play in the last group with the two division MVPs said Mullin who was the NAC Division II Hockey MVP.
Francis birdied the 13th and 15th holes, posted a back nine 36, and secured the title with a five-stroke margin (79-76-155) despite a four-putt double bogey on the par three 17th hole.
Hunter Francis knows his way around the golf course very well. He has a great attitude and he played a ton of golf this summer. Coming close last year really motivated him, said Massena coach Joe Mittiga.
Recalling the momentum shifting putt on the 12th hole, Francis said, I knew Brandon was within one stroke of me so I had to make the putt. I couldnt let him get ahead of me. I didnt think about last year during the round. I just thought about playing my game, staying patient and waiting for the putts to fall.
The putts never fell for Delisle until it was too late to make a charge. He played two over par over the last seven holes for a back nine 38 with birdie on 15 and took second at 79-81-160. But he was frustrated by a series of agonizing close misses until sinking a 20-foot par putt on the 18th hole.
Devin is such a fine putter. He played well today but he just had one of those days that all golfers have sometimes. The putts just wouldnt fall for him said B-M coach Randy Todd.
One golfer who did make a charge was OFA junior Conor Hannan who birdied the first six holes of the back nine and finished with a 39-38-77 and a third place finish at 84-77-161.
Hannan joined Mullin on the state tournament team which play at Cornell University this weekend. OFA Coach Joe Lynch said it capped a great weekend for the Blue Devils who won the team title on Friday,
We are very happy to have two of our guys going to states. All of the guys worked very hard this season and had a very good weekend.
Rounding out the nine-man Section 10 state tournament entry are: Evan Hanna of Malone 87-82-169, Madrid-Waddingtons Jeff Mott who enjoyed an eight-stroke improvement on Saturday fashioning a 91-83-174, Tupper Lakes Riley Amell 90-84-174, Salmon Rivers T.J. Roundpoint 89-87-176 and Potsdams Konnor Bigwarfe 91-87-178 who won a one-hole playoff for the ninth spot over teammate Dan Stone (88-90-178) who is the teams first alternate. OFAs Dylan Binion (86-93-179) is the second alternate.
Rounding out the second day qualifiers are: OFAs Tristan Moore (92-89-181), Malones Elliott Vanier (90-92-182), Hunter Tuttle of Edwards-Knox (93-89-182), Massenas Brenden Dobbins (87-94-184), Potsdams Dan Cruikshank (94-91-185), OFAs Jed McRoberts (92-93-185), Malones Davis Sprague (93-92-185), Potsdams Ryan McDonald (88-98-186), Massenas Kendrick Swamp (93-94-187), Brushton-Moiras Hunter Russell (96-92-188), Salmon Rivers Logan Lamb (90-101-191), Norwood-Norfolks Ryan Thomas (94-101-195), Gouvereurs Eugene Bishop (94-102-196) and Malones Alexandra Sprague (91-110-201).