From the Rhode Island Golf Association
PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (July 9, 2014) -- The 109th R.I. Golf Association Amateur Championship has found a giant killer and his name is Dave Nuttall Jr. Few players who have taken part in the event have enjoyed themselves more than Nuttall has in the last two days.
The North Smithfield resident who plays out of Metacomet staged one of the great days in tournament history on Wednesday when he upset not one, but two former tournament champions.
First, Nuttall birdied the 18th hole to stay alive, then shocked seven-time player-of-the-year Charlie Blanchard on the 21st hole. After a quick break for lunch he came out and upset another former champion, Ben Tuthill, 4 and 3, with an even more impressive performance. His work included four birdies in the last six holes.
Nuttall, who had never even qualified for match play previously, did not hide his emotions.
As he was walking into the Montaup clubhouse to relax a bit after eliminating Tuthill in the second round, Nuttall spotted RIGA director Bob Ward.
``Bring on another champion tomorrow,’’ Nuttall yelled to Ward. ``Two today, another tomorrow. I can’t believe this is happening.’’
Tuthill faces still another former champion, Bobby Leopold, in the Thursday morning quarterfinals.
The others to advance include defending champion Brad Valois, who is joined by two more Metacomet members, new father Ricky Audette Jr. and URI’s Andrew Fiorenzano. New Public Links titlist Rob Grossguth, three-time high school All-Stater Jake Bauer, who is the youngest player left, and UConn grad Christopher DeLucia round out the quarterfinalists.
No one is enjoying himself more than Nuttall, who works as a 911operator. He is an engaging, outgoing personality who began enjoying himself during qualifying. He shot a first-round 77. On his first swing in round two, he pull hooked his drive left out of bounds. But it did not stay out of bounds. It hit a wall and rolled back inbounds. He ended up making bird on the hole.
He went on and shot a 71 and squeezed one shot inside the cut line. As he happily pointed out, he would not even have qualified if his drive had not returned from across the street.
Valois is making a strong defense of his crown. The lefty had not been playing as well so far this season in part due to work requirements. He is a financial analyst.
``I’ve been practicing more the last couple weeks getting ready, getting better,’’ he said.
It showed Wednesday as he made only two bogeys all day, one in each round, as he eliminated Gerald Santos 3 and 2 and Brendan Lemp, 4 and 2. The biggest issue Valois had all day was getting to the first tee.
``He almost didn’t make his tee time this morning,’’ Ward related. ``It was getting to his tee time and I looked around and he wasn’t around. I looked and saw him over on the putting green. I told him he was almost up. He had the wrong time. He thought he was 9:45 and he had 9:27. He gets up on the tee still getting his stuff out and whacks it down the middle. He birdied the hole.’’
Valois is seeking his fifth title, which would move him within one of the record of six by Dan Fairchild in the tournament’s early days a century ago.
The momentum from winning the Public Links Championship two weeks ago has carried over for Grossguth.
``I’ve been working with Mike Harbour (one of the state’s premier teaching pros) for the last month and he’s helped me so much,’’ Grossguth said.
Grossguth has been a frequent contender over the past two decades, including a beaten finalist against Mike Soucy in 2003. He showed the poise of a veteran Wednesday when he fell behind early in each of his two matches.
``But I played well on the back nine and made some good putts,’’ he said.
Audette has had some life changing experiences recently. He and his wife welcomed their first child, Richard III, seven weeks ago. Audette was a semifinalist three years ago and has not always been able to play in all events because of work and family commitments, but he keeps sharp by playing at Metacomet.
``I won the club championship two years ago and beat Brad Valois in the semifinals,’’ he said. ``I think of that as my biggest win so far. He’s so unbeatable there.’’
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