Rhode Island Burke Memorial: Brad Valois wins by five
Brad Valois (USGA Photo)
Brad Valois (USGA Photo)

NEWPORT, RI (May 4, 2016) - Brad Valois added another title to his rapidly growing list of RIGA championships on Wednesday.

The four-time State Amateur champion captured one of the few tournaments he had not won before, the 18th John Burke Memorial at Newport Country Club. Valois plodded his way through wet and windy conditions to an even-par 72 in the second round. Added to his opening 66 at Wanumetonomy on Tuesday, it gave Valois a 36-hole total of 4-under 138 and a five-stroke victory.

Four-time Burke champion Bobby Leopold took second with a 71 for 143 total. Metacomet’s Kevin Blaser had the best round of the day, a 4-under 68 for a 36-hole total of 3-over 144 and third place. Reigning player of the year Jamie Lukowicz had the most unusual round. He shot a 5-over 77 for 152. The 77 included an 11 on the par-4 16th after play had resumed in the rain. State Amateur champion Kevin Silva and former Burke champion Billy Forcier, who was making his return to RIGA competition after living in New Hampshire for several years, tied for fourth at 145.

Dean Parziale of Metacomet birdied the first hole of a playoff with Dave McNally to win the Senior Division title. Both finished a 7-over 150. In the net division, Richard Salzman of North Kingstown posted a 68 at Wanumetonomy for a 142 total and a two-stroke victory.

As happens so often in the May event, held to raise money for the RIGA’s caddie scholarship fund, weather played a major factor. The day was dreary and windy throughout and become nasty in late afternoon when rain arrived. The rain became heavy enough that the horn was sounded at 4:02 p.m. with 20 players still on the course.

The rain subsided enough to allow play to resume 25 minutes later. By that time, Valois had let everyone know that he was not about to give away the four-stroke lead he earned with his opening 66. Valois had one par and one bogey for an even-par 36 on the front side. He never made any serious mistakes and with conditions so difficult, no one was able to make a run at him.

"Considering the conditions, we all played pretty well,’’ Valois said. "It was really tough out there.’’ It was so tough that Valois altered his game over the final nine.

"I hit a lot of four-irons almost like chip shots so I didn’t have to make a full swing,’’ Valois said. He finished his day in style in the rain and wind shortly after 6 p.m. when he hit a shot reminiscent of Tiger Woods’ last hole shot when Woods won the U.S. Amateur at Newport.

Woods hit his approach on the uphill par-4 18th to within three feet to clinch his victory over Buddy Marucci. Valois’ approach from 132 yards hit the stick and came to rest three feet below the pin. He tapped in for bird.

Even as he has won so many titles in the past 13 years, Valois often has spoken about how he was never quite happy with his game. Right now, he is as confident as he has ever been.

"I’ve been playing well,’’ he said. "I’ve been working on my game for the last three weeks, on weekends and after work.’’

Valois said he tried to make major swing changes with a new coach last year, but they simply did not work out. The lefty has gone back to his old swing and is hitting the ball better than he did at any point last summer. There was a reason, he noted, why he had never won the Burke before.

"I haven’t played very much,’’ he said. "You can’t play while you’re in college and since then I really haven’t had much chance to play so early.’’ He said he had competed in the event two or three times before this year.

ABOUT THE John P. Burke Memorial

54-hole stroke play tournament with open and senior divisions. 36 holes played on the first weekend, and the final round played on the second weekend. Gross and net competitions. Eligibility: Handicap Index 10.0 or less, member of RIGA member club.

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