Richardson Invitational: Prowler, Vannelli are tops

HEWLETT HARBOR, NY (May 3, 2008)--David Prowler of Bethpage State Park won the 60th Annual Richardson Invitational Championship at the Seawane Club in Hewlett Harbor, Tim Schmitt of the Cherry Valley Club, 2-up, in an exciting match, under quite difficult conditions (cold, cloudy, damp and 15-20 mph winds from the east about sums it up).

Schmitt made a habit of great recoveries from near disasters, and every time Prowler had an opening, he could not take complete advantage. However, the clear distinctions between them included Prowler hitting 10 fairways to Schmitt’s six, Prowler finding two bunkers to Schmitt’s seven, and Schmitt hitting two balls into the water (although he won one of the holes where he found the drink, and halved the other).

After they halved the opening hole with bogies, Schmitt made a very good five on the long second for another bogie half, after watching his tee ball bound into the pond on the left. Schmitt’s third bogie allowed Prowler’s par to win the hole, and Prowler went one up for the first time.

The lead was immediately erased on the short but trouble-filled fourth hole, when Prowler made bogie. They halved the first par three with two-putt pars, and then halved the (unreachable into the wind) par four sixth with one putt bogies.

The number one handicap seventh was downwind, and Prowler got up and down from a bunker for his second one up lead of the day (Schmitt, in the same bunker, could not duplicate the save.). They halved the par three “island green” eighth (which is surrounded with sand), with pars (although Schmitt’s was anything but routine, featuring a second shot from the grass behind the back bunker to an elevated, sloping away green and a fine putt), and then halved the par five ninth, into the wind, with bogies, so Prowler remained one up at the turn.

They halved the tricky tenth, with its exceedingly shallow green, with pars, but Schmitt squared the match for the second time with a par on the par three 11th. He then proceeded to drive his tee ball into a left bunker on the narrow 12th, and ended up making bogie. Prowler followed him into the bunker for one of the few times this day, but again got up and down for par and his third one up lead. He then extended it to two on the water-bounded 13th with a fine par while Schmitt found another bunker off the tee (this time on the right) and eventually made bogie.

The lead was cut in half right away as Schmitt hit a fine tee ball onto the difficult green on the long par three 14th, and two putted for par. Prowler’s tee ball was 30 yards short of the stick and he could not get up and down. They halved the par five 15th with pars, as Prowler hit a bad third shot from about 100 yards, but then stiffed the resultant 30 yard pitch.

The 16th featured lots of drama, and took an eternity. Schmitt made the mistake of getting his three wood tee ball up in the air, and it rode a downwind left to right wind into the crossing canal, just left of the cart bridge. Prowler then knocked his tee ball slightly further right and shorter, fetching up on a patch of grass, with a tree and the cart bridge between the ball and the green, and very near ground under repair created by the work the club is doing on a service building. Because of the fortunate (for Prowler) circumstance of the ground under repair, Prowler was given relief, and the nearest point was determined to be on a cart path. Prowler dropped on the path, was given relief again to clear grass with no intervening objects, and then proceeded to fly the green with his second shot. Schmitt dropped short of the canal, and hit his third shot to the back fringe. Prowler’s chip from behind the green ended up about 8 feet below the hole. Schmitt, with strong determination written on his face, then knocked in his 12 footer from the fringe for a miraculous four, and won the hole when Prowler could not convert his 8 footer. The hole had taken so long and involved so many issues that Schmitt had to be told he had won the hole with a four; he mistakenly thought he had made five. Mistaken or not, the match was all square again.

The par five 17th turned the match for the last time: after two drives in the fairway, the second shots told the tale: after deliberating on club selection and wind strength for quite some time, Prowler laid up to 100 yards. Schmitt, longer off the tee, tried to get close to or on the green with his second and pushed his shot into a bunker, 40 yards short of the stick. Prowler hit a perfect wedge to 8 feet, and Schmitt did not get enough of the ball on his sand shot, leaving it in and ultimately making a fatal bogie. Prowler’s par won the hole and gave him his fourth and final one up lead. On 18, Prowler was in the fairway again, and Schmitt pushed his drive into the right rough, between the mounds. His second shot found the back left greenside bunker, while Prowler’s iron came up just short of the green. Prowler then hit a lovely 100 foot Texas wedge to about five feet, and when Schmitt’s sand shot scared the hole but ran 8 feet by, and he could not convert it, he conceded Prowler’s putt and the match. This was Prowler’s first amateur tournament victory, and he was extremely emotional immediately afterward in the arms of his wife and daughter, and then in his victory speech at the trophy presentation.

In the Senior Masters Division, Ron Vannelli of Metuchen G & CC defeated Steve Rose of Fresh Meadow CC 2 & 1. Vannelli played excellent golf under the conditions and Rose was not far behind. Vannelli was one under for the 17 holes, and Rose, one over.

--Courtesy LIGA

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