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Forcier Overcomes Illness, Heat to win the R.I. Mid-Amateur
Bill Forcier won at Wannamoisett (RIGA, Wannamoisett photos)
Bill Forcier won at Wannamoisett (RIGA, Wannamoisett photos)

By Paul Kenyon

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (August 29, 2018) - Billy Forcier added the Mid-Amateur Championship to his growing list of RIGA titles on Wednesday, this one a crown that he will remember for the hurdles he had to overcome to get it.

Forcier was ill. He had a light breakfast but vomited that at 5:30 a.m. and had not had anything else to eat when he finished his round at 4 p.m. He, like everyone in the event, had to overcome oppressive heat which hovered around a 100 degree heat index. And, after recording a sparkling 64 on the first day, Forcier went 5-over-par on his first four holes in the second round including a triple bogey seven on the fourth hole.

Somehow, he managed to overcome everything, post a 75 and edge Tyler Cooke by one stroke with a a 36-hole total of 1-over 139. Cooke, who at times was tied for the lead coming down the stretch, had 73 for 140.

"This was a tough day, for sure,’’ Forcier said. "It’s been a long. I woke up this morning at 5:30 to help with my daughter (13-month old Winnie) and I felt sick. I had something to eat but I couldn’t keep it down. I’ve been too afraid to eat anything since.’’

While he began the day with a three-stroke lead over Cooke, with everyone else at least five back, Forcier looked to be in huge trouble an hour after he began. He bogeyed the first hole and the third. Then he went out of bounds and triple-bogeyed the fourth. Suddenly, his lead was gone and a half dozen players, including Chrs Roloff, Jamie Lukowicz, Ryan Pelletier and Bobby Leopold, as well as Cooke, all were in the hunt.

With the Wannamoisett layout adding to its reputation as being as tough as any course in the state, it was not so much a chance to surge for all the contenders as a battle to survive.

After finishing the front side with a 40, Forcier somehow found the wherewithal to fight back. There were several exchanges of the lead, but Forcier was the survivor as he made two birds and two bogeys on the back side to win it. By the time he was on 17, it was down to him and Cooke. Cooke birdied that hole, the only par-5 on the course, and Forcier birdied on top of him to stay one ahead. Both parred the final hole.

The tile is the third RIGA Major for Forcier. He won the State Amateur last year and took the Burke Memorial back when he was at URI in 2007.

There was only one under-par round all day, a 68 posted by Roloff, a two-time Wannamoisett club champion. Roloff, an emergency room physician, was nine groups ahead of the leaders. He had begun the day 10 strokes off the lead after his opening 74. He was not aware of how high the second-round scores were.

He was surprised when he was told he was the only player all day to break par. Then, he was even more surprised when told that he was only two strokes off the tournament lead as he turned in his card with all the other leaders still having several holes to play. He ended up settling for third with a 68 for 142.

"I short-sided myself a lot yesterday,’’ Dr. Roloff said. "Today I hit the ball much better.’’

The Senior Division had an interesting finish of its own as Metacomet’s Bruce Heterick, who recently turned 55 to become eligible for the seniors, won on rounds of 71-72 for 143, two strokes ahead of Dave McNally.

Heterick has been a frequent contender _ just this year he reached match play in the State Amateur and made the cut at the New England Amateur. But he has earned a reputation in another way _ he refuses to ride in a golf cart. In this event, with the heat index so intense, Heterick was the only player in the entire field to walk the course. He did it both days, the first day carrying his bag himself. In the second round, a friend from Metacomet, Mike Feeney, came shortly after the start of the round and caddied for him.

"I just enjoy it more when I walk,’’ Heterick said, "but these two days it was a challenge.’’

The intense heat was that big a factor. A number of players felt round two was less severe than round one because there was a slight breeze, where there was so breeze for most of the first round. The majority, though, felt day two was every bit as draining, in part because the first day had worn them out.

"I thought it was warmer today on the first tee than it had been at any point yesterday,’’ offered Darren Corrente, the new Senior Stroke Play champion. "But by the time we got to the back nine, it wasn’t quite as bad because of the breeze.’’

Despite the heat, only three players from the 135-man starting field did not finish the first round and only one withdrew after qualifying for the second round. And one of those who withdrew did so for a different reason.

Jordan Gosetti of Pawtucket Country Club was called off the course midway through his round. He received a call notifying him that his wife had gone into labor.

ABOUT THE Rhode Island Mid-Amateur

Open to male amateur golfers who are members with a RIGA member club, have reached their 25th birthday by the start of the event, and an index no more than 12.0. Format is 36-holes of stroke play with a cut to the low 55 players and ties after the first round. There will also be a senior division for those 55 and older.

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