Champion Ryan Snouffer (right) (SI Advance photo)
by Stephen Hart, silive.com
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (May 28, 2016) -- Ryan Snouffer left the competition seeing red Sunday at the New York City Amateur golf championship.
In a tournament known for its history of grizzled veterans winning the crown, the 21-year-old Snouffer posted three sub-par red numbers -- including rounds of 70 and 67 Sunday-- to capture the men's division at LaTourette.
David Prowler won the senior division (age 50-plus) in a one-hole playoff over Jay Blumenfeld; and Steve Boyd took the super seniors (age 60-plus) by a stroke. Those two divisions played 18 holes on each of the two days of the tourney.
Snouffer, who hails from Sparta, N.J. and who just graduated from Seton Hall University, bogeyed the 14th hole -- which was LaTourette hole No. 5, as the men's division started their rounds on the 10th -- and found himself tied with Trevor Randolph with four holes remaining.
Then, he turned on the afterburners.
On the 15th, with a front right pin placement, Snouffer chipped in for birdie while Randolph bogeyed, causing a decisive two-stroke swing.
"I was really hitting my wedges tight," said Snouffer, who began his college career at Adelphi before joining the Pirates for his final two years. "I gave myself a lot of opportunities."
On the 16th, another Snouffer wedge shot found the cup but popped out, leaving him a tap-in for another birdie. Then on the next hole (LaTourette No. 8), Snouffer used a pitching wedge from the fairway to drain an eagle.
Snouffer capped off his performance with a par for a 5-under round of 67 and a three-round final score of 10-under 206 -- what tournament director Matt Zuntag believes is the second-lowest score in the 29-year history of the event, behind an effort turned in by Mike Stamberger.
Randolph, a runner-up last year to Ryan Chin, finished second at 5-under 211. Matt Lowe was third at 3-under 213.
Aside from his astounding accuracy with wedges, Snouffer was equally pleased with his putting, which had been "giving me trouble, especially with the speed of my putts. It was still lurking a bit (in the morning round), but it got better later on and I was able to make some putts."
The victory was the first for Snouffer outside of college play and in a three-round amateur tournament.
"I usually struggle to put three good rounds together," said Snouffer, who'll turn 22 in July. "I battle myself."
Snouffer has a busy summer ahead. He plans to compete in the New Jersey State Open, the N.J. Amateur, the Metropolitan Amateur, the Met Open, several invitational tournaments and will try to qualify for the U.S. Amateur in July.
"I'll stay amateur over the summer, then I'll work my butt off and try to qualify for Q School (to enter the PGA Tour) in the fall," Snouffer said.
PROWLER WORKS OVERTIME
In the senior division, Prowler added the 2016 trophy to the one he captured in 2012 after his birdie on the first extra hole (LaTourette No. 1) bested Blumenfeld.
"I drove it straight down the middle and Jay was in the rough. Then for my second shot, I took a hybrid and was all over the flag stick. Jay was short of the green and then pitched short," said Prowler, who has played this tourney every year since its inception in 1988. "It was the first time I've hit this green in two. I had the adrenaline going."
Prowler, from Manhasset, L.I., "knew I needed to birdie the 18th" to force a playoff. "I knew Jay would finish strong, so I hit my second shot within 14 feet of the cup."
As for the hot temperature: "I love it when guys start to complain about the weather because I know those guys are done," said Prowler, whose round of 70 Sunday paired with Saturday's 73 gave him a 1-under 143.
"I'm a 'mudder.' I love it when the weather is tough -- windy, rainy or hot. It makes some guys quit, and I never quit. It's all about keeping your head in the game."
Herrol Pryce finished third in the seniors with a 3-over 147.
Boyd -- a resident of Baultusrol, N.J., who plays that town's famed course, which will host the PGA Championship in July -- shot a 75 on Sunday to give him a two-round total of 7-over 151 and a one-stroke victory over Rick Lawrence in the super seniors division.
"I'm very excited for the win. I haven't played in this (event) in five years," said Boyd, who is also the current president of the Metropolitan Golf Association. "It's fun to play on Memorial Day weekend, and I always enjoy playing at LaTourette. The course was in beautiful shape; the greens were very challenging and hard to read."
Boyd said the best club in his bag over the two days was his driver.
"I kept my drives down and in the middle of the fairway," he said. "Overall, I was just pretty steady, making a couple of birdies on the front and back."
Zuntag -- who took over as tourney director last year from his father, Steve, who died in October of 2014 and who the NYC Amateur championship trophy is named after -- said having six golfers finish under par was a first. "Usually, you'll get about three. And we had 21 individual rounds under par, which is also a record." ... Zuntag said he and John Quinn are in the process of building a cabinet at the LaTourette clubhouse that will hold the tournament's permanent trophies. ... The individual winners were each given crystal trophies. The top eight finishers in the men's division were awarded gift certificates to American Golf. ... Four Islanders competed in the finals of the men's division: Michael Young (227), Billy Byrnes (227), John Baranello (231) and Mike Clemente (232). ... The top 15 finishers in the men's division, the top seven in the seniors and the top five in the super seniors all receive an exemption into next year's NYC Amateur. Division champions receive a lifetime exemption. ... Zuntag praised the work of groundskeeper Joe Stefanski, who had two of his mowers break down and had a third one borrowed from South Shore also quit on him in between the morning and afternoon sessions. Despite the problems, the golfers had great things to say about the quality of the course.