Kevin Silva takes Rhode Island Stroke Play title
Kevin Silva <br>(RIGA Photo)</br>
Kevin Silva
(RIGA Photo)

EAST PROVIDENCE, RI (July 26, 2016) -- Mistake-free golf carried Kevin Silva to the title in the 33rd RIGA Stroke Play Championship Tuesday at Agawam Hunt.

The 2015 Amateur champion did not make a bogey in his last 26 holes as he came from behind and beat two-time defending champion Brad Valois by two shots. Silva had a 68 in the first round of the 36-hole day to put himself in position and then put together the best round of the tournament, a 4-under 65, to charge to the title with a 4-under 203 total.

The strong finish for the 32-year-old field engineer for a company that installs cell phone towers was all the more impressive considering the long day and the 90- degree heat.

"What a long day. I’m still putting my thoughts together," Silva said shortly before 8 p.m. when the day finished. "I tried to limit the mistakes. I tried to give myself opportunities."

While just about everyone else was fighting the weather and the challenging conditions presented by Agawam’s recently renovated layout, Silva had no problems dealing with anything.

"I like to grind. I love it," he said.

The North Carolina graduate and former pro was fully aware of where he stood. He was playing one group ahead of Valois in what came down to almost match-play conditions over the final nine.

"I was constantly asking the rules official how I stood. I wish me and Brad could have played together," Silva said. "I wanted to know where we stood.’’

Silva and Valois were within one stroke of each other for most of the final round. They were tied at 3- under for the tournament when Silva was on 13 and Valois on 12. At about the same time, Silva rolled in a curling 15-footer for bird on 13 and Valois bogeyed 12 for a two-shot swing.

Another of the key swings came at the end of the second round. At one point late in that round, Valois got to 5-under for the tournament and five up on the field. However, on the downhill par-4 closing hole, Valois drove right into the edge of the first fairway. He had tree troubles on his approach and hit that one right, into bushes that guard that side of the course from the parking lot. His ball was literally in a rhododendron bush.

Because he also was near a cart path, it looked as if he might be entitled to a free drop and escape trouble. However, the rules dictate that he would have to drop away from the hole, which would have been him even deeper into the bush and into an unplayable lie.

Valois decided to kneel and hold his club backwards to hit the ball back into play. He did, but did not move it far. He got on the green in four and two-putted for a double bogey.

When he also bogeyed the first and third holes, he suddenly was one behind Silva. Silva, playing in the group ahead of Valois, birdied two of his first three holes in round three. Only one other player, Cameron Andrade was in the title chase at that point. Cameron Andrade had posted his second straight 69 in round two and birdied the third hole in round three to get to 1- under for the tournament, just one off the lead at that point.

As it was, Kyle Hoffman finished third at even-par 210 and Tyler Cooke fourth at 212, including a closing 68.

Silva’s ability to halt Valois’ reign broke with tournament history. The event has been dominated by repeat winners. Paul Quigley, who has won the event nine times in all, went back-to-back-to-back in 1988-90 and then again in 1992-1993 and 1995-1996. Jason Pannone did the double in 2006-07, which gave him three in four years, since he also won in 2004. Charlie Blanchard won in 2008-09 and then again in 2011 and, of course, Valois in 2014 and 2015.

Quigley won the Senior Division this year, posting scores of 70 (one below his age), 74 and 72. His 216 total was 13th best overall. Senior Division players play from the senior tees.

View results for Rhode Island Stroke Play

ABOUT THE Rhode Island Stroke Play

Format: 54 Holes - Stroke Play. Eligibility: Handicap index of 12.0 or less. Member of RIGA member club.

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