PROVIDENCE, R.I. (September 9, 2014) — This latest operation by doctor Pirie, the one he performed over the last two days at Triggs, was a total success. It was done cleanly and precisely, with absolutely no complications.
The periodontist from Valley added to his already lengthy list of RIGA Championships on Tuesday when he swept to a five-stroke victory in the 56th Senior Amateur. He began the day with a four-stroke lead thanks to his superb 6-under 66 in Monday’s opening round and never looked back, started quickly in the second round and then coasted to a 71.
He let everyone know that he was not going to make it easy for anyone to catch him when he birdied four of the first five holes in the second round. By the time he made the turn in 33, Pirie was ahead by six.
"It was kind of strange,’’ Pirie said. "Usually when you go to bed at night, you forget what happened the day before. Today, we go out there and I roll in a 15-footer (for bird) on the first hole. I start thinking, 'Can this be happening again?'"
It kept going.
He drained a 20-footer for another bird on the second hole. He bogeyed the third, but then he hit it tight on both four and five for two more birdies. For all practical purposes, the tournament was over.
"It’s a little different feeling,’’ he said of having the big lead. "You can ease up too much, especially here. I have so much respect for this course. It can get you hard at any time if you don’t watch it.’’
But he never got in any serious trouble and coasted home to still another title.
If there was a surprise, it was that the title was "only" the second for the 64-year-old URI grad in this event. The other came in 2006.
The doctor, who was installed in the RIGA Hall of Fame seven years ago, also clinched the association’s Senior Player of the Year with the victory. As it was, he entered the event in the lead in that category.
Pirie has been the overall Player of the Year three times and has won virtually every event the RIGA sponsors, from three Amateur titles, the Four-Ball three times, the Burke Memorial twice, the Father-Son with his son, Jon, three times and the Senior Four-Ball.
Two weeks ago, he once again earned a berth in the US Senior Amateur by advancing in qualifying at Framingham Country Club to compete next week at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Cal. That will put a cap on what has been an emotional month for Pirie. His father, Jack, who used to regularly follow his son in RIGA competition, often telling stories of his love of the game from his Scottish roots, died last month. Jon Pirie, the grandson who now lives in Miami, returned to Rhode Island for the funeral.
"The funeral was on Wednesday and that just happened to be the weekend of the club championship at Valley,’’ George Pirie related.
"Jon stayed and caddied for me.’’ Pirie made 10 birdies in the 36-hole final against Jon Drumm and won a thriller, 1 up.
After he qualified for the US Seniors, Pirie called his son.
"I said, How would you like to caddy for me again?’’ he related. "He said, `What did you do this time? I told him, 'How about the US Seniors?’ ’’
When he explained that it was in Newport Beach, the son accepted and will join his father in California.
At 64, Pirie not only won the overall title, he also won the Super Senior Division (for ages 62-67). His fellow Hall of Famer, Paul Quigley, took the Legends Division, for those 68 and older with a 142 total. Quigley, in fact, finished second overall and won his division by 13 strokes, with Ed Duffy second.
The defending champion, baseball Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, finished at 153.
The day included a hole-in-one by Pete Porter with a five-iron the 175-yard fifth hole.
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