By Dalton Balthaser
Photo Gallery: http://bit.ly/32dVGlf
PORTSMOUTH, R.I. - When Bruce Heterick walked off the final hole of the 61st Rhode Island Golf Association Senior Amateur, he thought he gave away the tournament.
An unlucky break off the tee caused him to make his lone bogey of the round.
But when he walked into the scoring area, he learned he had a new challenge, a playoff with RIGA Hall of Famer and six-time Senior Amateur Champion, Paul Quigley.
“The bogey at the last was a downer,” said Heterick, 56, of Barrington, R.I. “I got a bit of an unlucky break where my drive ended up in the right trees. I thought I had lost the tournament. Getting into the playoff was a bit of a reprieve for me.”
Heterick, led by his grinder mentality, won with a par on the fourth playoff hole to claim the RIGA Senior Amateur at Montaup Country Club Tuesday (par 71, 6,132 yards).
Green Valley Country Club's Quigley shot a final-round 70 to finish with a two-day total of 145. Heterick shot a final-round 71 to join him.
Heterick’s chances looked bleak on the first playoff hole, which was No. 1 (par 4, 401 yards) at Montaup.
His second shot from the left rough found a penalty area right of the green. He drew a good lie but faced a challenging pitch that he would just get on the green about 35 feet from the cup.
Quigley hit his chip from flag-high to a foot and the odds to claim his seventh #RISrAm were looking pretty good. But not without a valiant effort from Heterick.
“When I stood over that 35-footer for par, I said ‘there’s no way I should lose the tournament like this,’” said Heterick. “I was going to make the damn thing.”
After exchanging fours on No. 2 (par 4, 405 yards) and No. 3 (par 3, 170 yards), the Metacomet Golf Club member sealed the deal with a two-putt par after Quigley three-putted for the second consecutive hole.
“Winning this event means quite a bit,” said Heterick. “You just never know when you will have a chance to win an event. This is the pinnacle of golf for me unless I get to a USGA event. Playing at the state level, this is the ultimate prize for seniors.”
“In a playoff, anything can happen,” said Quigley, 74, of Warren, R.I. “Bruce made an unbelievable putt for par on the first playoff hole after hitting it in the penalty area. I had two long birdie putts on the third and fourth playoff holes, which were longer than any of the putts I had the last two days and I just misjudged the speed on both.”
Heterick started the final round three shots back of defending champion Hermen Dacones. Dacones finished T13 after a final-round 81.
“I was thinking I needed to shoot 2 under,” said Heterick. “I hadn’t made a birdie the entire tournament until No. 13 (par 5, 514 yards). I had a lot of good looks the last two days but couldn’t get anything to go down. Things have a way of working themselves out.”
This is Heterick’s second victory in an RIGA event this season. He partnered with Button Hole Golf Club’s Dean Parziale to win the Senior Four-Ball (Gross) in May at Potowomut Golf Club.
He’ll now have his name permanently etched in the history of the RIGA. Something Heterick, a history buff, said he never even considered.
“I love the history of anything,” said Heterick. “So to be able to play Paul [Quigley], who is one of the RIGA’s greatest players was amazing for me, especially since he’s 18 years older than me and consistently shoots his age or better. For me, it meant a great deal to be able to win.”