By Paul Kenyon
WARWICK _ At age 61, Hermen Dacones is playing golf as well as he ever has, if not even better. Now, he has a championship trophy to prove it.
The Laurel Lane member won his biggest prize ever on Thursday when he recorded six birdies on his way to an even-par 71 at Potowomut to win the 60th RIGA Senior Amateur. His 142 total gave him a two-stroke victory over Don Wright and Rob Grossguth, both of West Warwick, and Potowomut’s Tom Murphy.
Wright had the low round of the day, a 70, while Grossguth and Murphy both had 74 after being tied for the first-round lead.
Dacones had a simple reason for playing so well at a time when most are slowing down.
``I retired,’’ he said. ``I’m playing more now.’’
He had a wild day on the way to the title as he went 4-over in the first seven holes, including double bogeys on both the first and seventh holes. But he birdied the back-to-back par 5s at 9 and 10, and kept going, with birds at 14, 15 and 17 before bogeying the final hole.
It all made for a rewarding day for Dacones, who has become a regular in RIGA events since his retirement.
``I’ve been hitting the ball well but I haven’t really been scoring as well as I would like,’’ he said. ``My scores haven’t really shown the way I’ve been playing.’’
Grossguth, who was in the threesome behind Dacones, put himself in good position, but finished bogey-double bogey to fall out of the top spot.
Wright, the 2015 champion, had the best round of the day but did it in an unusual way.
He began well back in the pack after his opening 74. He turned in 1-over 36. Then, on the par-5 10th, one of the easiest holes on the course, had made what he called a bad bogey.
``I had 200 yards in,’’ he related. ``I pull it, then hit it in the bunker and made bogey. So, he was 2-over on the day, 5-over for the tournament and still well back.
On the par-4 11th, he hit his approach about 20 feet below the hole.
``I got ready to putt it and I stepped away,’’ he said. ``I knew there was something different about that putt. I haven’t been a member here for nine years, but I remembered it doesn’t break the way it looks like it’s going to break.’’
He stepped away, realigned himself and made the putt. He added birds at 14 and 15 for a 34 on the back side.
Seven-time champion Paul Quigley won the Legends Division for players 68 and older. He shot a 72 and finished in a tie for sixth overall at 146. It was the seventh or eighth time this year _ ``I’ve lost count,’’ Quigley said _ that the 73-year-old has shot his age or better.
In the Super Seniors for ages 62-67, Joe Santaniello won the title with a 74 for 145.
Rocky Bedard had a hole-in-one on the 126-yard 16th hole during the first round.
As the Senior champion, Dacones will help lead the Rhode Island team into the Tri-State matches against Massachusetts and Connecticut at Oyster Harbors on Oct. 16-17. The other players who earned spots as seniors on the team, based on the points earned in RIGA events all season, were Paul Quigley, Darren Corrente, Mike Arter, Tom Goryl and Bruce Heterick.
The 10 players who earned berths in the Mid-Am competition were Jamie Lukowicz, Bill Forcier, Chris DeLucia, Eric Marchetti, Tyler Cooke, Bobby Leopold, Ryan Pelletier, Tom McCormick, Glenn Dufault and Brian O’Leary.