(Photo courtesy of John Sawin)
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — John Sawin of San Francisco took home the prestigious Travis Invitational trophy on Sunday, winning the mid-amateur match play event in its 106th year hosted at the renowned Garden City Golf Club on New York's Long Island.
Sawin, of San Francisco Golf Club, defeated two-time champion Joe Saladino of New York 2-and-1 in the 18-hole final. Saladino won the title in back-to-back years, from 2012 to 2013.
"He's a local guy from Long Island so I think he's used to this style of golf and he's sleeping in his own bed at night so I think he feels right at home," Sawin said of his final opponent Saladino. "He was playing really good golf coming into the last match."
Saladino had handedly defeated his opponents leading to the final, including a 6-and-5 win over Daniel Russo in the quarterfinals and a 5-and-4 victory against Matthew Mattare in the semifinals.
Sawin's win comes in just his second year playing the event, and a year after he reached the championship match in his first opportunity. The result left Sawin the runner-up after losing on the 19th hole to Brett Williams. But with a match play record of 7-1 at the Travis, it's clear Sawin has a thing for the 116-year-old club.
"I feel very much at home on the golf course," Sawin said. "It's pretty similar to where I play back in San Francisco at San Francisco Golf Club in that it has pretty wide fairways and if you miss the fairway you can get yourself into a little bit of trouble, but most of the golf course's defenses are around the greens."
Medalist Dan Abbondandolo of Brookville Country Club reached the semifinals, where he lost to Sawin 3-and-1.
The tournament honors course designer Walter J. Travis, a three-time U.S. Amateur champion, and first American to win the British Amateur. He reworked the original 1899 Devereaux Emmet design, which is now ranked 49th in the United States by Golf Digest.
"This is really special, especially one with the type of history and prestige that this tournament has," Sawin said of the victory.
An accomplished player who played collegiately for Princeton from 2003 to 2007, Sawin has had a nice run over the past few years, winning the Stocker Cup in California in 2013 and capturing the 2014 Pennsylvania Amateur at Oakmont Country Club.
He said this win was different, though.
"I've had a couple nice wins in the last few years but they've all been stroke play tournaments," Sawin said. "I felt like in those wins I really got into the zone and played my best golf, and this week I definitely didn't have my best golf but because it's match play, I just had to keep beating the guy in front of me.
"It was nice to win in a little different way than I'm used to," he said.
Sawin, like most mid-amateur players, is back to work this week. But he's looking forward to a few events later this year like the Crump Cup at Pine Valley in September and the Stocker Cup in October at The Preserve in Northern California.
Follow the link below for the final match play bracket.
ABOUT THE Walter J. Travis Invitational
Tournament honors Walter Travis, three
Amateur champ and the first American to
British Amateur. Travis reworked the
Devereaux Emmet design. 18 hole qualifier
establishes match play flights. Great
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