NARRAGANSETT, RI (June 28, 2016) --As has happened so often in the Rhode Island Golf Association Amateur Championship, a URI player earned medalist honors on Tuesday with a terrific round of golf at Point Judith. The surprise was which URI player did it.
Eric Marchetti, who will enter his senior year for the Rams in September, recorded a 2-under-par 69 for a two-day total of 143. That earned him the medal in the 111th Amateur by two strokes over Cameron Andrade, the son of PGA Champions Tour star Billy Andrade. Andrade had a 72 for 145.
With the winds down and higher humidity slowing the speed of the greens, scores were a bit better than on Monday when 60 percent of the field could not break 80. Defending champion Kevin Silva proved the course was getable. After an opening 81, he put together a sparking 5-under 66 to surge into a tie for fourth and easily earn one of the 32 spots in match play.
However, there were major casualties, led by four-time champion Brad Valois. The lefty made a quadruple bogey eight on the 17th hole, which included hitting a ball out of bounds, for a 77 and 158 total. A playoff for the final spots came at 157.
The loss of Valois, the favorite in any event in which he competes in Rhode Island, throws the tournament open to new names. Marchetti fits that description.
The Metacomet member had a strong junior career at North Attleboro High but has been limited at URI, in part because of injury issues. He most recently has been dealing with a pinched nerve. In this event, he feels as if he has something of a home course advantage since the Rams do their practicing at Point Judith.
He got his day off to a good start when he chipped in for bird on the second and followed that with another bird on the par-3 third. By the end of the day he had four birdies and two bogies for one of only two sub-par rounds in the tournament.
His closest competitor turned out to be a bit of a surprise, too, although with a very familiar name. Cameron Andrade first appeared on the local scene caddying for his dad. He played his high school golf in Atlanta, where the family lives for 10 months and will be a senior at Wofford in the fall. He also has been slowed by health issues, in his case a rib injury. He also spent a month earlier this year touring Australia and New Zealand as part of a class at Wofford.
Three years ago, he reached the quarterfinals in this event. He in lean, like his dad, and bombs the ball. He says he has been able to outdrive his father since his sophomore year in high school. He has been as steady as anyone in qualifying, going 73-72.
Two-time champion Bobby Leopold earned the third seed with a 71 and 146 total that included birds on each of his last two holes.
While the talk for two days was focused on how difficult the course is playing, the defending champion showed it is possible to post a low number. Silva has a 66 that included birds on four of his first five holes. The difference had more to do with his thinking than how he hit the ball.
"The biggest difference between yesterday and today is that I played way better course management," he said. "Today was a lot more thinking my way around the golf course, putting myself in the right spots, understanding that sometimes the front fringe is OK."
Other qualifiers included Hall of Famers Paul Quigley (156) and George Pirie (152), both URI alums. Pirie is 67 years old. Quigley, who sets a new record for oldest to reach match play every time he does it, is 71. Tom Goryl, who also is 67, also advanced.
A playoff was held at 157 with five players for the final spot. Eli Epstein-Lubow of Moses Brown’s state championship team, won the playoff, rolling in a curling 25-foot par putt on the second playoff hole. Among those eliminated in the playoff was former champion Tom McCormick.
Valois was former champion creating conversation for the wrong reason. Another URI grad, he was in position to advance until his next-to last hole when he drove out of bounds then had more problems, leading to an eight on the par-4. In the opening round he took a nine on the par-5 18th. On that one, his approach to the green, rolled out of bounds into the maintenance area. There is a fence there with only a several inch opening at the base. Most balls hit the fence and bounce back toward the green. The shot by Valois found the narrow opening out of bounds.
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