FacebookTwitterYouTube
  LOGIN  |  JOIN  |  INFO
Dramatic Birdie Gives Hull Back-to-Back Vermont Amateurs
Austin Danforth / Burlington Free Press photo
Austin Danforth / Burlington Free Press photo

By Austin Danforth, Burlington Free Press

WATERBURY, VT (July 12, 2018) - Seventeen holes later, neither Drake Hull nor Max Major had any idea where they stood.

Of course the Rutland Country Club rivals — former high school teammates — knew it was the final round of the 112th Vermont Amateur, the birdies had flown like well-timed jabs, shots had been squandered and regained, the crowd following them had grown. But as they marched into the 18th fairway of their thrilling duel the championship-defining details eluded them.

They had no idea they were tied.

Major learned as much when he asked his caddie, his brother Sam, before hitting his second shot on the demanding par-5. Hull, too, had lost track. He guessed he held a one-shot advantage.

It was only when the pair made the climb to the final green and Hull coolly drained a 20-foot birdie putt from the fringe that reality took shape: The 21-year-old had just captured his second straight title by two shots on Thursday at the Country Club of Vermont.

Hull finished the 72-hole tournament at 3 under par, carding birdies on three of the last four holes in a tremendous finishing kick for a 69. Major, the only other player under par, followed up his 70 in the morning with another in the afternoon that pushed the defending champ to the brink.

"I knew pretty much the whole day that if we played good golf it was going to be me and him in the end because we had a pretty good cushion on the field," Hull said. "It definitely felt like a match play situation out there because we were going back and forth all day.

PRESS)

Hull finished the 72-hole tournament at 3 under par, carding birdies on three of the last four holes in a tremendous finishing kick for a 69. Major, the only other player under par, followed up his 70 in the morning with another in the afternoon that pushed the defending champ to the brink.

"I knew pretty much the whole day that if we played good golf it was going to be me and him in the end because we had a pretty good cushion on the field," Hull said. "It definitely felt like a match play situation out there because we were going back and forth all day.

"Gutted for him to lose after playing that well, but this was my day — the putts went in for me this time," he said. "I'm grateful for that, that's for sure."

Gary Shover of Orleans Country Club was alone in third at 5 over. Rutland teen Jared Nelson was fourth at 7 over, followed by Champlain's Bryan Smith and Rutland's Garren Poirier at 8 over.

Troy Goliber, Brian Cain and Philip Fairbanks tied for seventh at 9-over and Erik Bertalan (10-over) rounded out the top 10.

Major started Thursday's 36-hole finale eight shots behind Hull, the 18- and 36-hole leader, but matched the best round of the morning to charge into the final group. And Hull was headed in the other direction. A 5-over 77 robbed the University of Connecticut golfer of the cushion he built with Tuesday's tournament-best 67.

That set the stage for duo's umpteenth round together.

"Literally, probably, a thousand times," Major said. "I figured it would be a good fight and I got comfortable out there. I got lost in the process."

"It felt like we were at Rutland playing, but the course was a little different and there was a little more on the line this time," Hull said.

An alignment tweak between the morning round and the afternoon round solved Hull's ball-striking woes and the final twosome went nearly shot for shot through the par-4 seventh hole. There, Major chipped on the putting surface to navigate a steep ridge and buried the ensuing 10-footer for par to keep pace.

Major, 22, grabbed a share of the lead on the next hole, stuffing an 8-iron to six feet on the par-3 and sinking the birdie chance. But Hull answered with a two-putt birdie at No. 9, a par-5, to make the turn where he started, 1-under and a shot ahead of Major.

An 11-footer for birdie at the 11th hole pushed Major back into a tie at the top and he surged ahead by two at No. 13. The Johnson & Wales grad chipped in for birdie while Hull had a 6-footer for par do a horseshoe around the cup and leave him with a tap-in bogey.

"I just knew I had to make as many birdies as I possibly could because he could string together three or four like he did," Major said.

That barrage from Hull started at the short, par-5 15th with a two-putt effort from 25 feet.

At the 16th, a challenging uphill par 3, Hull stuck his approach pin-high, 30 feet to the right. He seized the opportunity by pouring in a right-to-left 30-footer to forge yet another deadlock at 2-under for the championship.

"Obviously you need that one on 16 and it was right in the middle," Hull said. "That was a huge momentum swing. After 13 the momentum was all in his favor."

Major had a chance to nose in front again at No. 17, but his downhill 15-footer refused to topple over the side of the cup, leaving him to wince as he dropped to his knees. After teeing off on the 72nd hole moments later, he learned what the miss cost him — but also that it was either player's tournament to win.

"It didn't change anything. I knew how I was going to play. It was going to come down to a wedge contest to a very tricky green," Major said.

After a poor layup left him in the rough, Major's third shot into the demanding par-5 failed to reach the green. He pitched up to the surface and had about 12 feet for par that could send the match to extra holes if Hull didn't convert from the front fringe.

"From there I thought I had two to win but apparently I only had one — that's crazy," Hull said. "Glad it went in then. Holy smokes."

ABOUT THE Vermont Amateur

Residents of Vermont must be a member of a club of the VGA. Non-residents must be members of a VGA member club for the past three years, has an active GHIN handicap issued by a Vermont Golf Association member club and has posted a minimum of 10 rounds of golf in the last 12 months outside of the major championships at any VGA member club.

Format is 72-holes of individual stroke play. The first two days are 18-holes each with a cut to the low 40 and ties for 36 holes on the final day.

View Complete Tournament Information

Latest in 

Amateurgolf.com, Inc.
6965 El Camino Real 105-631
Carlsbad, CA 92011

Facebook Twitter YouTube