Paul Kenyon Recap
EAST PROVIDENCE _ The legend of Brad Valois in RIGA competition added still another chapter on Wednesday. This one, like so many before it over the past 15 years, was an extremely impressive one.
The 31-year-old four-time State Amateur champion and three-time Junior Champion, among other titles, put on a sensational show as he and partner Greg Simoneau swept to victory in the 69th Four-Ball Championship at Metacomet.
The two combined for a 7-under-par 63 for a 36-hole total of 128, good enough for a three-stroke victory over the team of Tyler Cooke and Bobby Leopold, the champions in 2015 and 2016.
Actually, Valois took the team concept out of the event. Playing competitively for the first time this year, Valois birdied the first hole, and the second, and the fourth. Then he ran off three in a row at 7, 8 and 9. That gave him a 30 on his own ball. After beginning the day in a tie for the lead, Valois and Simoneau had a three-stroke lead by the time they made the turn.
Valois added birds at 14 and 16 on the back side and had only one bogey, on the long par-3 12th, for the 63.
“He did it. It was his score,” said Simoneau, who was a junior college basketball All-American at CCRI where he scored 1,034 points in his two years with the Knights.
What makes the performance all the more special for Valois is that the lefty - he hits the ball lefthander but putts right-handed cross-handed - has played little golf this year. He has been battling health issues for several years, most notably back problems.
He was told it could help alleviate some pain if he lost weight. So, he has been on a diet, one supervised by his mother, Gail, who is a nurse. He looks different than last seen in RIGA events.
“Sixty-seven,” he says matter-of-factly when asked how much weight he has lost. He looks lean and trim. The body changes have forced him to make some adjustments in his golf game. He is still working to rebuild muscle mass he lost.
“I’m 175 now. I want to lose two more pounds,” Valois said. “I was 174 my last year in college (at URI) and I want to be able to say I got under that.”
While he had not played competitively until the Four-Ball, he has been working hard for the last two weeks.
“I’m able to practice now. I wasn’t able to practice before,” he said. “I’d have the lead in a tournament and lose it because I wasn’t able to do any practicing.”
On Wednesday, his work included driving the green on the dogleg, 360-yard, par-4 eighth hole. He had an 18-footer for eagle, which he left on the edge.
The victory earns Simoneau an automatic berth into the State Amateur. Valois, of course, as a four-time Amateur champ, already was exempt.
Defending champions Billy Forcier and Mike Philip finished at 140, in a tie for 11th, with two rounds of 70.
The tournament featured a full field of 74 teams, including some noteworthy players.
Joey Iaciofano, who won back-to-back State Amateur Championships in 1997 and 1998, then played professionally for years, made his return to amateur golf. He and his partner, Dave Lotti, shot rounds of 70- 72 and tied for 23rd.
Also, Bob Ward, the RIGA’s Executive Director, not only helped run the event; he competed with partner Tom Acciardo and shot 73-73. It is thought to be one of the first times the RIGA director has competed. Joe Sprague Sr. was one of the state’s best players for years in the 1960s and ‘70s, but pretty much gave up competing when he became the association director.