Rhode Island Mid-Amateur: Jamie Lukowicz wins first title
BARRINGTON _ Jamie Lukowicz has been knocking on the door for a Rhode Island Golf Association Championship for nearly 20 years. On Tuesday, he finally walked through and joined the list of major champions.

The West Warwick native, who now plays out of Metacomet, took the lead early in the second round in the 21st annual Rhode Island Mid-Amateur Championship at Rhode Island Country Club and went on to a convincing four-stroke victory over Kyle Hoffman.

"It was fun. I played well,’’ Lukowicz said after matching the low round of the day, a 2-under 69, for a 4-under 138 total.

"There have been a lot of seconds,’’ Lukowicz said. "I remember the last time this tournament was played here (in 2009) Charlie (Blanchard) beat me in a playoff. So this feels good.’’

The victory was a long time coming for the 40- year-old. Lukowicz has been a frequent contender and did win the state Public Links Championship several years ago. The long bomber has come close in numerous open field events. He challenged in the State Open three years ago at Kirkbrae, before a late chip-in by URI grad Mark Stevens beat him. He has been in the hunt in the Mid-Am before and three times combined with Rob Grossguth to finish second in the Four-Ball.

Grossguth, one of the first to congratulate Lukowicz after the victory, had an explanation for Lukowicz’ improvement. As much as he was sorry to see his friend leave West Warwick, it was good for his game.

"At Metcomet, he has to hit all his clubs. At West Warwick he was always hitting eight or nine irons,’’ Grossguth pointed out. "And the greens at Metacomet are faster than those at West Warwick. It has helped him improve his putting.

"He’s playing better than I’ve ever seen him. Good for him. I’m happy for him,’’ said Grossguth, who finished fifth at 147.

Lukowicz began the day two strokes behind Ryan Pelletier but quickly took the lead with birds on three and four while Pelletier was suffering two early bogeys. Lukowicz had his lead to three by the turn and maintained full control down the stretch.

Hoffman completed what has been a breakout season for him. His 69tied for low score in the final round and earned him the runner-up spot.

George Cidade ran off nine straight pars on front side to hang in and move into second for a time before going 5-over on 10 through 12 and falling out of contention. First-day leader Pelletier never made a birdie and gradually fell with a 77 for 144 total and a tie for third with State Amateur champion Bobby Leopold. It clinched the player- of-the-year award in the process. Senior Amateur champion George Pirie won the Senior Division at 148 and clinched Senior player-of-the-year in the process.

The victory brings a double award for Lukowicz. He not only received the championship bowl from Bob Ward, the RIGA director, he also received an invitation to join the RIGA’s Tri-State team for the matches against Connecticut and Massachusetts in two weeks.

Each state sends players 12, including four seniors, to the matches, which have been held for the last 80 years. Lukowicz entered the Mid-Am in 17th place in the yearlong standings kept to help determine the association’s player of the year as well as the Tri State team. The 250 points in he earned for winning on Tuesday vaulted him into fifth place in the standings behind Leopold, Brad Valois, Hoffman and Pelletier.

Leopold, Valois and Blanchard leave this weekend to represent the RIGA in the USGA State Team Championship. That same threesome tied for second in that event two years ago.

ABOUT THE Rhode Island Mid-Amateur

Open to male amateur golfers who are members with a RIGA member club, have reached their 25th birthday by the start of the event, and an index no more than 12.0. Format is 36-holes of stroke play with a cut to the low 55 players and ties after the first round. There will also be a senior division for those 55 and older.

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