NY State Amateur: Bozzelli outlasts field

ROCHESTER, New York (July 21, 2011) -- Dominic Bozzelli doesn’t deny it, he’s wanted this one for awhile. It wasn’t easy, but the wait is finally over.

Bozzelli outplayed and outlasted 43 other golfers today at Oak Hill’s always-challenging West Course, playing a marathon 36 holes in blistering heat and fierce wind, to capture his first New York State Golf Association Men’s Amateur Championship. He posted scores of 66 (-4) in the morning and 73 (+3) in the afternoon for a 72-hole total of 281 (+1). He passed and held off 36-hole leader Jake Katz – who totaled a 285 (+5) to finish second at the Men’s Championship for the second year in a row.

This was one of the few tournaments in the New York area that Bozzelli, the will-be senior at Auburn University, has yet to win. He wanted it bad.

“Ever since I started playing this tournament a couple years ago (I’ve coveted it),” said Bozzelli, whose closest previous finish was at Ravenwood in 2009. “Obviously, 2009, I thought I had it that year. But Oak Hill is a pretty special place and it means a lot to me.”

Although he didn’t crack the top three until after the third round, Bozzelli felt he had his game on point from his first swing.

“I was hitting fairways, hitting greens, getting it close to the pin, giving myself good looks at birdie,” said Bozzelli of his first two rounds. “I just wasn’t converting my birdie putts. Finally I got to making the putts today. In the morning I was hitting some good irons and finally starting to convert the birdies.”

That morning was round was the 66, a score matched only by Jimmy Welch’s first round. And Bozzelli did it with faster greens and higher wind speeds.

“The 66 in the wind I was pretty happy about that,” said Bozzelli, whose 66 included six birdies and two bogeys. “That moved me into the lead, and I knew going into the afternoon with the wind the way it was that even par would probably do it.”

Turns out the three-over was more than enough.

Caddying the final three rounds was none other than 16-year-old New York phenom Gavin Hall, who wasn’t playing due to injury. The two District V golfers are good friends, and Bozzelli was glad Hall could be there, even though surely Hall would’ve loved to have been able to compete.

““It was nice having him here, he’s got a good handle on the course,” said Bozzelli – presumably referencing Hall’s record-shattering 16 stroke victory on the West Course during the RDJA Districts last year. “ But mostly, with the wind and everything, there’s a lot of uncertainty. So we talked shots over and having two people looking at a shot is better than one, especially with a player like him.”

Then there is this: With the victory, Bozzelli becomes only the second player in New York’s rich amateur golf history to win and individual high school title (he actually has two – 2008 and 2009) and the NYSGA Boy’s (2005), Junior’s (2007), and Men’s Championships. He joins another District V sharpshooter, Yarik Merkulov – also sitting out due to injury – on that list.

“It feels good,” said Bozzelli of the accomplishment. “To be the second person out of New York state with all the great players we’ve had come out of here is pretty special.”

ABOUT THE New York State Amateur

This championship is a three-day 72-hole stroke play competition. The field will be cut after 36 holes to the low 40 players and ties. Entries will be limited to male amateur golfers who enjoy membership privileges at Clubs belonging to the New York State Golf Association, or are NYSGA Associate Members.

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