Paul Kenyon Recap
EAST PROVIDENCE _ Drafting is fairly common in golf. It happens when one player in a group does well, and then others in the same group pick up on it and start racking up birdies themselves.
It happened again Tuesday in the first round of the 69th RIGA Four-Ball at Metacomet. The teams of Greg Simoneau-Brad Valois and Brett Chatfield and his younger brother Davis Chatfield, were paired in the massive 74-team field.
Valois and Simoneau got the day off on the right foot with birdies on the first three holes, two by Simoneau, and everyone picked it up from there. When they were finished each team had a 5-under 65 to tie for the opening day lead.
The field took advantage of great conditions on a beautiful day to pile up closely behind them. Two-time champions Tyler Cooke and his brother-in-law Bobby Leopold posted 66, as did Team Jamie, Jamie Griffiths and Jamie Lukowicz, and the duo of Hall of Famer Paul Quigley and Kevin Blaser.
Anyone looking for the best scoring would have done well to follow the 9:10 foursome. The Chatfields and the Valois-Simoneau teams both played well, although when they finished they were talking about bogeys as they signed their scorecard.
“I can’t believe we both made two bogeys,” Simoneau said.
Both teams bogeyed the par-4 4th and the par-3 12th. Otherwise though, it was all about birdies and even an eagle.
Brett Chatfield, who played his college golf at Bentley, reached the par-5 ninth in two. Valois, the four-time State Amateur champion who looked very different than he has in recent years because of major weight loss, also got home in two.
“I had it 25 feet and lipped it out. He had it 15 feet and made it (for eagle),” Valois said of Brett Chatfield. Younger brother Davis Chatfield, who became the second youngest State Amateur champion in RIGA history two years ago when he won at age 17, did much of the rest of the damage. He had five birds on the day, including one of the final hole.
That is not a surprise. Chatfield is back home after an outstanding freshman year at Notre Dame where he became one of the top players for the Irish with a 72.75 stroke average in 32 rounds. He had four top 25 finishes.
Valois was making his seasonal debut and he looked terrific physically after losing 67 pounds. He said he is feeling much better than he has in recent years, with back pain that has hindered him much reduced. He is still adjusting to his new body but is playing well enough to record four birds in the opening round.
There is a strong chance that a former state amateur will be part of the winning team. In addition to Davis Chatfield and Valois, three teams right behind them all have guys who have won state titles in Quigley, Leopold and Lukowicz.
The 72-year-old Quigley continues to amaze. His day included three birds in a row, beginning at 15, to vault his team near the top of the standings. Lukowicz is a two-time Mid-Amateur champion who had the best round so far this year, a 67 in taking the lead in the rain-delayed Burke Memorial earlier this month. He and Griffiths both played well (68 for Lukowicz, 70 for Griffiths) as they put together a bogey-free round.
The team that has been the hottest in this event is Cooke and Leopold. With their 4-under-par round Tuesday, they are now a combined 48-under in their last six rounds. The two set an RIGA record three years ago when they posted 59-60 (24-under) and won by 13 strokes, won by five with a 16-under total two years ago and shot a first-round 67 last year at Kirkbrae before being forced to withdraw because they also were playing in the USGA Four-Ball at Pinehurst.
On Tuesday, Cooke had four birds and Leopold three, making up for back-to-back bogeys at 12 and 13.