NARRAGANSETT, RI (June 30, 2016) -- Never in the 111-year history of the Rhode Island Golf Association has anyone reigned as both the State Amateur champion and State Junior champion at the same time. On the other hand, it has been fairly common to have someone repeat as champion two years in a row. That has happened 13 times, not counting the several instances when the same person won three straight years.
One of those numbers will change Friday. It has to because Junior Champion Davis Chatfield of Wannamoisett will face defending champ Kevin Silva of Montaup in the 111th Amateur’s 36-hole title match at Point Judith.
Chatfield will be trying to do what no one else has ever done _ take the Amateur while he is holding the Junior crown. Silva will be out to do what Brad Valois last did in 2006-07 and 12 others did before him: Successfully defend the Amateur title he won last year.
The two will not need introductions. One of the RIGA’s rituals is to have its Amateur, Junior and Senior champions compete in the same threesome in the two rounds of qualifying. That meant Silva and Chatfield played in the same group with Paul Quigley Monday and Tuesday.
"That was a lot of fun playing with them. I can learn a lot from him and Paul, for sure, because they’ve been around here forever," Chatfield said. "I love playing with Kevin. He’s a great guy. I can’t wait to play with him tomorrow."
Silva will be put in an unusual position. At 5-8, he usually is giving up size to his opponents. But he will tower over his 5-4, 120 pound (That’s with golf shoes on and after lunch,’’ Chatfield said) opponent.
"Being the big guy? That’s OK," Silva said with a smile. "I can deal with that."
Both players had to survive tough matches with members of the URI golf team in the semis. Silva had to come from behind to top medalist Eric Marchetti, 3 and 2, while Chatfield was extended to 20 holes before squeezing past Jason Short.
When Silva and Chatfield played together in the two qualifying rounds, Silva was seven strokes better, 147-154. While Silva was winning the Amateur last year, Chatfield, playing for the first time, lost to Charlie Blanchard in the round of 16.
"My goal was to get further than last year," Chatfield said. "The last two days I’ve felt great. I’ve definitely player a lot more solid than the first two days."
He and Short, who red-shirted for the Rhody golf team this past year, his first at the school, went at each other from the start. Chatfield birdied the first hole and Short, a Massachusetts native who is working at Point Judith this summer, responded with a bird to win the second. Only twice in the first 10 did the two halve a hole. Chatfield built a 3-up lead but Short fought back. When he won the 16th with a par the match was even.
Short had a chance to win on 18, but his 12-foot birdie putt missed by inches. Chatfield kept himself alive with a nice up and down on 19, then won it on the 20th when Short drove behind a tree on the right side, had to punch out and bogeyed.
Chatfield becomes only the second Junior Champion to reach the title match while holding that title. The first was Bruce Morin in 1962. Morin lost to his uncle, the late Hall of Famer Ronnie Quinn, 1 up, in the title match.
Silva, a former pro who works building cell phone towers, knows about title matches since he was in one last year.
"It’s not a bad habit to get into," he said of getting there again. He was 1-down by Marchetti through 10 and in danger of falling 2-down when he had an 18-foot to save par. He made it.
"That was a huge putt on 10. It gave me a lot of confidence to halve that hole," he said.
He then won the next four holes, with three pars and a birdie, and went from there to his second straight berth in the title match.
"Over the last year what I’ve been most proud about is that I stay in my own game," he said. "I’ve been able to pick out spots on when to attack a hole and when to say there’s no need to attack this hole."
If anything could be called an upset in the quarterfinals, it was Short’s 2-up victory over Bobby Leopold.
Leopold is a two-time champion in this event and has been playing solidly all summer, including in last week’s Northeast Amateur. Against Short, Leopold led for only one hole, that when he made a deuce on the 197-yard 11th hole to go 1-up.
Short responded with a bird on 12 to pull back even, then a par to win the 13th and go ahead. The two ran off matching pars until the par-5 closing hole, where Short chipped in for bird to win 2 up.
Chatfield used a quick start to beat Cameron Andrade, 3 and 2. Chatfield was 5 up through 1. Andrade won 11 with a bird and 13 with a par to pull within three, but the key might have been on 12 and 14, where Andrade birdied, but Chatfield matched it each time. Chatfield was 2-under for the match.
Marchetti’s 3-and-1 decision over Ryan Pelletier was much the same. Marchetti never lost a hole as he built a 5-up advantage through 11, but Pelletier and won 12 and 13. Marchetti took 14 to go back up by four, but Pelletier responded by staying alive with wins at 14 and 16 to pull within two. Marchetti closed it out in style with a bird on 17. None of the last eight holes played were halved.
The Silva-John Hayes IV match was the opposite, with 11 of the 16 holes were tied, nine with pars and two (3 and 4) with birds. Silva won two with a par and 5 and 10 with birds to build a 3-up lead and kept running off pars from there to win, 3 and 2.
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