RUTLAND, Vt. (Sept. 12, 2012) -- Under perfect skies at Rutland Country Club on Wednesday afternoon, Peter Metzler (Proctor-Pittsford CC - VT) put on a show for his hometown fans by posting a final-round score of 3-under par 67 which earned him the 2012 New England Senior Amateur Championship title by one stroke.
He finished with a two-round total of 2-over par 142.
"It feels great," said Metzler, who turned 56 years old in May. "I haven't even had a chance to digest it, but I must admit that I didn't come in with any expectations. It is my first New England event, and I always thought that these guys were so much better [than me]."
Following a first-round score of 5-over par 75 on Tuesday, Metzler came back less than 24 hours later and proved both to himself and to the field of talented senior amateurs that he indeed has the game to play with just about anyone.
During the final round of play, Metzler put on a putting display and finished with four birdies and one bogey. He was the only competitor in the field to break par on Wednesday.
"At 75 I didn't think that I stood a chance," said Metzler. "I shot 67, but [the leader] would have to shoot 75 which I fully expected he would do. But then again you never know out here with this course and the wind picking up."
As it turned out, Metzler's final round score was just good enough to edge first-round leader Don Reycroft (Lebaron Hills CC – MA), who finished one stroke back of Metzler with a score of 3-over par 143.
"It is pretty cool," said Metzler, who finished second last week at the 2012 Vermont Senior Amateur Championship. "And to think that what I really wanted was to win the Vermont Senior. This wasn't even on my radar. It was a "go play" event."
Metzler had a feeling early on Wednesday that it was going to be a special day. After hitting just a handful of balls on the range, he stopped swinging and headed straight to the course.
He made two straight pars before he drained a 12-foot birdie putt on the 170-yard, par 3 3rd hole. He dodged a bullet on the 170-yard, par 3 5th hole when he somehow drained a 12-foot par putt.
"Holy smoke I made a great putt there," said Metzler. "It was a 12-foot bender that went left to right. It was a round saver."
He suffered a bogey – his lone one of the day – on the next hole when he misjudged the wind but he would quickly recover with a birdie on the 7th hole where he made a 15 footer.
He also made another critical save on the 330-yard, par 4 9th hole. He sent his tee shot right where it landed in the thick fescue. Instead of trying to reach the green, Metzler punched out 30 yards, knocked his third shot onto the green and proceeded to make a 35-foot par putt.
He made the turn at 1-under par 34 and was suddenly only a few shots off the lead as the leaders were struggling on what is a very challenging and penal layout.
Metzler had no idea that he was in contention and that's exactly the way he prefers it to be. In fact, he makes it a point to never count up his score until well after the round ends.
"I probably have a 1,000 idiosyncrasies but one of them is that I never add up my score," said Metzler, the 2003 Vermont Amateur Champion and 2006 Vermont Mid-Amateur Champion. "To me once I put the number in the box it is done. I just try to keep the carrot ahead of me and focus on the next shot and over the years I have conditioned myself to do that."
The strategy worked out perfectly, especially on the back nine where he was 2-under par. He made an 18-foot putt on the 393-yard, par 4 14th hole and then a four footer on the 129-yard, par 3 15th hole.
Perhaps most important on the back nine, however, was the 14th hole which Metzler dubbed his "adventure hole".
It all began when he pulled his tee shot left and was inches from a rock wall. He grabbed his 6 iron and hit a punch shot from 138 yards that somehow managed to avoid hanging tree limbs. When he walked up to the green, he found his ball just a foot off the green. What should have been a bogey or worse turned into a birdie.
"It was divine intervention," said Metzler. "We got up there and all three of our balls were right there just off the green, and we said what an adventure that was."
He finished off the round with three straight pars and then waited for the final scores to be posted. When all was said and done, Metzler was told that he was the champion.
"When I left the house today my wife said to me "he shot 67 so why don't you shoot 67'", said Metzler of Reycroft, who had posted that magic number on Tuesday to take a four-stroke lead over the field. " Those were my instructions when I left the house today."
And like a dutiful husband he following his marching orders and can now call himself a New England Senior Amateur Champion.
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