EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. — It took nearly 20
years for Jamie Lukowicz to win a major RIGA
championship. Now that he has one in his
pocket, he is playing like a champion almost
every time he tees it up.
Lukowicz continued playing as well as anyone in
the state on Monday when he blazed his
way to a 5-under-par 65 at Metacomet, his home
course, to take the first-day lead in the
110th RIGA Amateur. His score, according to
those at Metacomet, equals the lowest ever
posted by an amateur in tournament play.
The performance was not exactly a surprise
since Lukowicz has been playing so well. The
41-year-old from West Warwick finally broke
into the winner’s circle last fall when he
captured the RIGA Mid-Amateur at Rhode Island
Country Club. It has given him more
confidence than ever. He began the year with a
strong performance in the RIGA’s first
major, the Burke Memorial.
"I should have won that one," he said of his
second-place finish to Brendan Lemp, a
tournament in which he was tied for the lead
with three holes to go before settling for
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 four 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
In the first of the two qualifying rounds in the
Amateur he rolled in six birds against only
one bogey. The bogey came on the par-4 11th,
"the easiest hole on the course,’’ as he
called it and dropped him to even on the day. He
went on a blitz from there with birds on
12, 14, 16, 17 and 18. That is 5-under in the last
seven and a 30 on the back side.
"It was a good day,’’ was his quick summary of
The work by Lukowicz was part of an
entertaining day that showcased how golf truly is
game for all ages. The leaders included the two
youngest and the oldest player in the field.
Patrick Welch, age 15, had a 67 to tie for
second. Davis Chatfield, 16, was in a tie for fifth
with a 69. And Paul Quigley, 70, matched his age
to tie for ninth.
Welch, the RIGA Junior Champion, is the
youngest player in the field for the third straight
year. He is one of 23 Metacomet members who
are in the 122-player field. The Metacomet
guys speak about how much fun they have
competing against each other and driving each
other to get better.
Even at age 15, Welch has fit into that group. He
did not have a bogey on the way to his
67. He did his work with his dad, Marty,
caddying for him.
Chatfield is in a similar position in that he plays
at Wannamoisett, which not only is the
most difficult course in the state but among the
deepest in talent. The club has 15 players
in this year’s Amateur. With his brother, Patrick,
caddying for him, Chatfield overcame two
double-bogeys with five birdies to record his 69.
Quigley simply keeps rolling along. The Hall of
Famer matched his age for the fourth time
in RIGA competition with two birds and two
bogeys on the way to a 70. His day included a
near hole-in-one on the 10th.
Red-hot Ryan Pelletier tied Welch for second
with a 67 that included six birds. The sixth
came on his last hole of the day, the par-5 ninth,
where his eagle putt hit the hole, spun
around and stayed out. Pelletier was playing as
well as anyone in the field coming into the
tournament, including qualifying for the U.S.
Amateur just last week.
"The course is in amazing shape,’’ he said. "It’s
tough but it’s fair. You have to be on the
right side of the hole with these greens. They’re
fast but if you’re below the hole you can
While scores were good overall, several of the
biggest names struggled. Defending
champion Bobby Leopold went 4-over in his first
five holes and had to fight back for a 73.
Eight-time player-of-the-year Charlie Blanchard
had a 75. And four-time champion Brad
Valois was perhaps the biggest surprise of the
day on the negative side, also with a 75.
Valois has to be considered one of the favorites,
not only because he has own four times
but because he is playing on his home course.
The long-hitting regularly tears up the par
5s. Amazingly, he was 4-over on Metacomet ‘s
two par-5s, with an eight on the second and
a six on the ninth. Those two played as the two
easiest holes on the course. Valois and
Blanchard begin the second day in a tie for 47th.
The day marked the first time in RIGA history
that players were allowed to use carts.
Twenty-seven of the 122 players took advantage
of the new rule and used carts.
The cut to the low 32 to begin match play will be
made after Tuesday’s second round.
View results for Rhode Island Amateur Golf Championship