Jamie Lukowicz repeats as Rhode Island Mid-Amateur champion
2015 R.I. Mid-Am champ Jamie Lukowicz (RIGA)
2015 R.I. Mid-Am champ Jamie Lukowicz (RIGA)

SEEKONK, RI — Jamie Lukowicz won himself another major RIGA title on Tuesday and in the process put himself in position for an even bigger award.

The West Warwick native won the Rhode Island Mid-Amateur championship for the second straight year with a dramatic finish at Ledgemont Country Club. He knew that Bobby Leopold, playing just ahead of him, had posted a 3-under 139 total for 36 holes. Lukowicz stood at 4-under as he stood on the tee of the 420-yard, uphill finishing hole.

His tee shot nearly went out of bounds. He was about three feet from the stakes and could only punch out. He got it about 45 yards short of the green. His pitch shot spun to a quick stop about 22 feet short of the hole. Lukowicz knew he needed to make the putt or face a playoff with Leopold.

"I knew. I was checking the scores on the back nine. I knew exactly where I stood,’’ he said.

He rolled it in and gave a fist pump as it dropped.

"Dead center,’’ he said with a smile.

The far from routine par gave him a 2-under 69 on the day and 138 total. Leopold hit 17 greens on the way to a 67 at 139. His 67 tied State Amateur champion Kevin Silva for low score of the day. Silva finished in a tie for fourth with Brad Valois and Ryan Pelletier. Rick Audette Jr. was sandwiched between the leaders, taking third with a 73 for 140.

The Senior Division had an equally tight finish. Senior champion George Pirie closed with a 71 for 146, one shot ahead of Paul Quigley, Dave McNally and Dave Patrick. Pirie played from the tournament tees, rather than the senior tees which are available for all seniors.

Lukowicz had been frustrated for 20 years as he often came close in RIGA events. But he never won a major until taking the Mid Am last year at Rhode Island Country Club.

"This one was a lot better,’’ he said. "I had to come from behind today. I was two shots behind when we started.’’

At one point during the final day, a half dozen players were within two shots of the lead. Lukowicz made three early birdies. When he rolled in a 20-footer for another bird on the 14th, he suddenly had a three-stroke advantage. But he mis-clubbed himself on the par-3 15th and bogeyed, then got in trouble trying to cut the corner on the uphill par-4 16th and bogeyed.

He narrowly missed a 10-foot birdie putt on 17 then won with the dramatic par on 18.

In addition to taking home the silver cup given the champion, Lukowicz also jumped into the lead for the RIGA player-of-the-year title. He began the day in a tie for second, with 460 points, behind Valois, who was in the lead at 505.

The win in the Mid Am is worth 225 points. Leopold also jumped past Valois with the 140 points he earned for second.

Several events remain, including the Mulligan Interclub Championship as well as qualifying for the national Mid-Am.

Charlie Blanchard, Leopold and Valois have owned the player-of-the-year title in the last nine years. Blanchard has won it four times, Leopold three times, including last year, and Valois twice.

Leopold missed only one green on the way to his 67 on Tuesday and had his chances to win.

I hit a lot of really good shots today. I just didn’t putt as well as I’d like. I thought I hit them where I wanted, but they didn’t go in,’’ he said.

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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