BY PAUL KENYON
Journal Sports Writer
PROVIDENCE (June 10, 2005) -- George Pirie and Tom Acciardo provided a great demonstration yesterday of how team golf can be every bit as exciting as individual play, sometimes even better.
They didn't do it alone. Nearly a dozen others competing in the R.I. Golf Association's Ed Perry Senior Four-Ball helped make it a a great show at Triggs. In the end, though, it was Pirie and Acciardo, both rookies in the event for players 55 and older, who walked away with the title in a wild finish.
Returning after being away nearly three years because of back problems, Acciardo gave his team the lead for the first time with a birdie on the 16th. Pirie, the three-time State Amateur champion who had carried his team most of the way, then clinched it when he sank a dramatic 20-foot par putt on the final hole.
The teams of Jesse Bradley-Ron Price and Ron Renzi-Anthony Vecchio tied for the net title at 128.
In the overall competition, Acciardo and Pirie had a 68 for 7-under 137. The defending champions, Charlie Karboski and Peter McBride, and the West Warwick team of Mike Dounetos and Bruce Morin tied for second, one back. McBride eagled the par-5 13th to help his team to a 67 in the day. Morin and Dounetos were 6-under in their last 14 holes, including a chip-in bird by Morin on the last.
That meant Pirie and Acciardo, in the final group, needed to par the last to avoid a playoff with the McBride-Karboski and Morin-Dountetos teams. Pirie drove in the trees.
"I couldn't do anything but hit it backwards," he said. He pitched out into the 10th fairway, then it a 9-iron over the trees to the fringe about 20 feet away. Acciardo hit a drive down the middle. His approach landed on the green but trickled into the fringe about 25 feet away. Acciardo lagged his first putt about 3 feet short. He did not have to worry about the par putt.
Pirie, known for his grit, added to his legend. He ran in his 20-footer to win it.
"He was exceptional," Acciardo said of Pirie, who also had birdied 10 and 14. On 14, he came within a foot of a hole-in-one. But Pirie began having back pain and needed help. Acciardo, a former State Par-3 champion, came through, thanks in part to the fact that he no longer has back pain. He had surgery that fused two disks in his back.
"I can play without pain again. It feels so good to be able to do that," he said. His birdie on 16 won it. On that par-4, his second shot one-hopped within two feet.
"I had faith in him. I knew he was going to come through," Pirie said. When Pirie came though on the 18th, the two had the title. It was the first for Pirie with his new look.
"After we finished (Wednesday) I went to the office and did some implants," the periodontist said. "Then I went to the barber's and got a buzz cut. I told Tommy it was to show how serious I was about winning."
Triggs, with its long par-4s and its relatively short par-5s, helped set up the wild finish.
McBride had his eagle to vault his team into contention. Morin chipped in on the final hole to give he and Dounetos their second straight runner-up finish.
Bill Johnson and Ray Woishek, who led after the first day, got to as low as 9-under with a birdie on the 10th. But they struggled coming home, with a bogey on 14, a double on 17 and then a bogey on 18 to finish at 5-under.
The team of Bob Elliot and Pat Monti Jr. had the most spectacular day, thanks to Elliot, who had two eagles and four birdies on his own ball. Elliot came within inches or a rare double eagle on the par-5 sixth, his second rolling over the edge of the hole and ending up inches behind the cup. The team finished 68-139.
The brother team of Ron and Mark Battista also charged into contention. Mark Battista, a former State Amateur champ, had long birdie putts on 13 and 16. The Battistas doubled 17 and finished at 141.
"I still say, as I've felt for a long time, this course is as good a layout as any in the state," McBride said. "I love it here."
The course, and the format, made for a terrific finish.
For complete results, click on the tournament link above (amateurgolf.com membership required).