FARMINGDALE, N.J. (August 7, 2013) — Following a morning semifinal match that included 10 birdies between Domenic Gatto and Riley Powers of Eagle Oaks, many wondered what the pair could do for an encore in the afternoon final match.
Gatto and Powers had defeated brothers Pat and Cory Wilson of Panther Valley, who combined for six birdies, in the semifinals, 2 and 1.
The Eagle Oaks twosome next went on to beat Michael DiMeglio and Charles Cai of Mercer Oaks, 5 and 4, on the strength of six birdies in the final of the 81st NJSGA Four-Ball Championship match at the Eagle Oaks Golf and Country Club on Wednesday, August 7, in Farmingdale.
For the most part, it was Gatto wielding a hot putter, in one of those zones where he was making nearly every putt he lined up.
“Today the holes looked quite large,” said Gatto, 39, a frequent member of NJSGA Compher and Stoddard Cup teams. “This was about redemption. We lost in the finals of this in 2010 to Mike Deo and Brian Komline and this is something we’ve been looking forward to winning for a long time.
“This is our home course and we felt quite comfortable here. We’ve always played well together,” added Gatto, one of the partners at Eagle Oaks.
Gatto’s 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 10th hole put his team 4-up with eight to play. He added a 15-foot birdie putt for a victory on the par-4 13thhole to go dormie at 5 up with five holes left to play.
“I was in awe of Domenic’s putting. It was amazing to watch,” said Powers, 28, who works in environmental services. “It seemed like every one of his putts had a chance to go in.”
It was Powers who sewed up the match when his eight-footer for par halved the 14th hole.
“On Tuesday, Riley made five or six key putts for us. His chip-in on No. 7 in the quarterfinals from 25 feet gave us a real opportunity and made us believe we could win this thing,” said Gatto who teamed with Powers to defeat Michael O’Connell and Luke Edelman of North Jersey in the quarterfinals, 2 and 1.
DiMeglio, 24, and Cai, 18, saw a 4-up lead shrink to 1-up after 16 holes against Bob Blumber and Amateo Bido of Royce Brook in the semifinals. But DiMeglio’s par putt sealed the 1-up victory on the 18thhole.
Against Gatto and Powers, the Mercer Oaks duo fell behind by two holes after Eagle Oaks birdied the par-4 second and par-4 sixth holes. DiMeglio and Cai cut it to 1-up with a par victory on the par-4 seventh hole, but birdie victories for Gatto and Powers on the par-3 eighth hole and par-5 ninth increased it to 3-up at the turn.
“Domenic hit it well and putted incredibly,” said DiMeglio, a program director for the First Tee of Trenton. “Every time he looked at a putt, it either went in or burned the edge. Their knowledge of the greens made the difference because from tee to green, we matched them.”
“I’ve played in a lot of match-play events and that was the best putting display I’ve ever seen,” said Cai, a sophomore at Dartmouth. “This was good for us as a team to have played so well and gone so far.”
Royce Brook’s Bido was responsible for three birdies in a row on the back nine vs. DiMeglio and Cai, and his chip-in on 16 nearly went in. That would’ve made the match all square.
“We got off to a slow start, but I got in a zone on the back nine and finally figured out my driver,” said Bido, 24, who plans to join a minor-league tour in Florida this winter.
Panther Valley’s Pat Wilson, who won the Met Amateur on Sunday, gave credit to Gatto and Powers.
“We played five-under on the back nine and weren’t able to pick up one hole on them,” said Wilson, who also plans to turn pro this winter in Florida.
“This was a great tournament at an excellent golf course with a lot of good players,” he said.
View results for New Jersey Four-Ball Golf Championship