HEWLET HARBOR, NY (May 6, 2006) -- Abbie Valentine of Bethpage State Park defeated Allan Small of Fairmount CC 2 up to win the 2006 Richardson Memorial Invitational Championship at the beautiful Seawane Club in Hewlett Harbor on Saturday afternoon. Valentine was competing in the event for only the second time, and it was Small’s first Richardson. In an exciting day of golf, Valentine displayed a talent for putting up low numbers: in his morning semi-final match against Jay Blumenfeld of Mountain Ridge GC, he had five birdies and an eagle (the par 5, 494 yard 9th hole). In the afternoon final against Small, his two additional birdies were again complimented by an eagle on 9. In the final, Valentine was behind until Small’s caddie made a crucial error on the par three 8th: with Valentine safely on and Small in the bunker that surrounds three quarters of the green, the caddie thoughtlessly began raking footprints in a different part of the bunker. When Small reported this to the match referee, Small was given the proscribed loss-of-hole penalty to bring the match back to all square. (Small, the reigning New Jersey Amateur Champion, thus essentially added his name to the illustrious list of golfers who, in the finest tradition of the game, call penalties on themselves.) Valentine’s second consecutive eagle at 9 then gave him the lead. The match then see-sawed back and forth, leaving the competitors all square again on the 17th tee. In the final turning point of the match, Valentine made a terrific birdie on the 545 yard par 5 17th. He then also won 18 when Small, needing a win to send the match to extra holes, conceded Valentine’s par putt after missing his own bid for par.
Small, soon to be 54, went 22 holes before winning his morning match against Garett Engel of Bethpage State Park In addition, Small’s game now is built on a foundation of two knee replacements. Yet his loss in the afternoon cannot be chalked up to conditioning, strength or age: despite giving away approximately 30 years to his opponent, he seemed equally fresh on the final back nine. As for Valentine, he has been a rising star in Long Island events for quite some time: he won the Junior Championship in 1999 at North Hempstead (Engel was second), he was runner-up in the L.I. Amateur in 2003 at Fresh Meadow, co-low amateur in the 2005 Long Island Open, runner-up in the 2005 Long Island Amateur Stroke Play at Laurel Links, the only Long Islander to win two points in the 2005 edition of the Stoddard Trophy competition and runner-up for Long Island Amateur Player of the Year in 2005.
In the Senior Masters Division, John Baer of Century CC defeated Stephen Rose of Fresh Meadow CC 1 up with a par on 18 to Rose’s bogie. That match had Baer leading almost all the way, but Rose cut Baer’s lead in half with a fine 18 foot birdie putt on the 536 yard par 5 15th. Then Baer’s costly bogie from the right bunker to a short-sided pin on the 16th allowed Rose to square the match. They then halved 17, setting up the crucial 18th. Rose missed the his drive right, and Baer was right down the middle. Rose’s second, from the adjacent 1st fairway, just trickled over the pedestal green, coming to rest a few inches into the second cut, slightly below green level. Baer then hit a fine iron to 25 feet directly below the hole. Rose’s difficult chip rolled ten feet past the hole, and Baer lagged his 25 footer to 4 feet. Rose missed the 10-footer, and Baer made his for the win.
For complete match tree results, click on the tournament link above.