NARRAGANSETT, RI (July 1, 2016) -- Davis Chatfield turned in a performance for the ages on Friday when he held off 2015 champion Kevin Silva and won the 111th Rhode Island Golf Association Amateur Championship at Point Judith.
Chatfield took the title when he rolled in a 11-foot birdie putt on the 38th hole. He had kept his composure after losing a five-hole lead when Silva made five birdies, including three in a row, down the stretch to force only the fourth extra-hole title match in tournament history.
By winning, Chatfield set off a search of the association record books. Among other accomplishments he is the first player ever to reign as both the Amateur and Junior champion at the same time.
At age 17, he becomes the second youngest Amateur winner ever. Scott Teller was 16 when he won in 1973.
By going 38 holes, he and Silva staged the longest title match in tournament history.
At 5-feet-4, 120-pounds, he becomes one of the smallest champions ever.
"It’s unbelievable. You can’t beat it," the Bishop Feehan senior and Wannamosiett Country Club member said of winning the title.
"This was as exciting a day of golf as I’ve seen, right up there at the top of the list,’’ said the 32-year-old Silva, a former pro who has played in two US Opens. "My hat’s off to Davis. He’s a gritty competitor and very solid ball striker. His game is only going to keep improving. It seems like he has the right people around him."
"I think it was magnificent the way they conducted themselves," offered Dr. Vin Cavallaro, the RIGA president. "Those are two fine young men."
Chatfield and Montaup’s Silva staged what will go down as one of the very best matches in state history. The play was good, although not spectacular. The two combined for 14 birdies, eight by Silva, although both also a similar number of bogeys.
The script added to the excitement. Only 15 of the 38 holes were halved. Chatfield was 2-up at the lunch break then won three in a row from holes 20-22 to go 5-up. The margin was still at four holes through 28. Silva made back-to-back birdies on 29 (with a 30-foot putt) and 30 (pitching in from the fringe) to close within two. When Chatfield birdied the 32nd hole to go back 3-up, even he thought he had control.
"I thought if I could make pars from there I’d be good," he said. "Just hit fairways and greens and make pars."
Silva, who showed the talent of a champion when he won last year, displayed the heart of a champion this time. He birdied the 33rd. He birdied the 34th with an improbable, up and over and down 55-foot putt on the par-3 hole. Then he birdied the par-4 17th, the 35th, as well. Three birdies in a row and the match was deadlocked for the first time since the eighth hole. Silva had all the momentum. Both bogeyed the 36th and halved the 37th, as well.
On the par-4 38th, Silva used an iron off the tee. For one of the few times in the match he had to hit his second shot first. On most holes he was outdriving Chatfield by 30 or 40 yards. Silva put his approach on the fringe, then Chatfield hit his pin high, 11 feet left. Silva chipped to within a couple feet for an almost certain par, but he never had the chance. Chatfield rolled in the bird for the victory.
The new champion, who already has committed to Notre Dame, was not sure how he would celebrate, but there was a likely choice. He played 36 holes two days in a row in match play on Wednesday and Thursday _ then went home to work out at his gym. He cut his workout to about 50 minutes on Thursday.
"I love going to the gym and take my mind off everything as I work out,"he said. "I go five, six, seven days a week."
Chatfield could set another record in two weeks. He was medalist in qualifying for the Mass Am and, as an Attleboro resident, will play in that one, too.
In addition to winning the RIGA Junior Championship last summer, he also led his Feehan High team to the Massachusetts Division II title this past school year. He was the medalist in the tournament, with a 70. Chatfield could have played for either Massachusetts or Rhode Island in the New England Junior Championship at the end of last summer. He chose Rhode Island because of his friendship with members of the Rhode Island team, most notably former Junior Champion Patrick Welch. He helped Rhode Island win the title in that event held in Maine.
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