Former NBA star Joe Hassett leads Rhode Island Senior
Joe Hassett (R) in action for Providence College <br>(Providence College Athletics Photo)
Joe Hassett (R) in action for Providence College
(Providence College Athletics Photo)

PROVIDENCE, RI (September 13, 2016) -- For a basketball player, Joe Hassett has become a very good golfer.

The former Providence College star and NBA champion had his best day yet in RIGA competition on Tuesday, firing a 1-over 73 at Triggs to tie for the lead in the 58th Senior Amateur Championship. Tom Acciardo, the 2011 champion, and frequent contender Dave McNally also had 73s to earn a share of the top spot.

Paul Quigley, who has won this event six times among his many RIGA titles, Metacomet’s Dean Parziale, RICC’s Dave Patrick and Wannamoisett’s Donald Gallagher had 74s to be just one off the lead heading into Wednesday’s second and final round.

With so many long time contenders near the top, Hassett will not be favored to win since he is the new guy on the block in this competition. But after one of Rhode Island’s great basketball careers at La Salle Academy, Providence College and the NBA, including in Seattle where he helped the Sonics win the championship in 1979, Hassett will be accustomed to being in the championship chase, even if it is a different sport.

Hassett sounded like a typical golfer when he finished his round Tuesday, lamenting the fact that his score was not lower.

"I missed a three-footer on one, a three-footer on two and a three-footer on four," he said with a shake of his head. "They were all for pars." He also bogeyed the par-5 10th, so he was 4-over as he stood on the 13th tee. It turned into a lot of fun from there as his sweet shooting SONAR got turned on, this time on the greens.

"I made four birdies in a row,’’ he said. They came on 13, 14, 15 and 16.

"The last one was the best,’’ said Don Wright, the defending tournament champion who was one of his playing partners. "That one was a double three- pointer. It had to be about 50 feet."

That got Hassett back to even, which is where he stayed until he 18.

"I made bogey from 125 yards," he related. "Left it short and three-putted."

Acciardo, who already has won the Senior Four- Ball this year with partner George Pirie, also was disappointed with his finish. He had four birds and was 1-under going to the par-4 17th.

"I pulled my drive left and had to take an unplayable," he said. "I made double."

McNally had the steadiest round of the leaders. His 73 included three bogeys and two birdies.

"It was there for the taking," he said, referring to the beautiful day, the excellent course conditions and the relatively mild course set-up provided by RIGA officials.

"I had a lot of six-inch putts for pars. I had my chances to make more (birdies). But I didn’t make a putt over six feet all day."

Quigley did not shoot his age as he has done several times already in competition this summer. But the 71-year-old put himself in good position by going 1- under over his last 11 holes after a slow start. Quigley also reported that he has withdrawn from next week’s USGA Senior Amateur, to be held in St. Louis.

He was slated to be the second oldest player to take part in that event. The only one older is 73- year- old Vinny Giles. Giles, however, did not qualify as Quigley did. Giles has an exemption as a past champion (2007).

"It’s being held at the same time as the New England Seniors,’’ Quigley noted. "The New Englands are so easy to get to (They are being played at Crestwood, the course where his brother, Dana, was the pro for so long). With the nationals, it’s a hassle getting out there. It’s not like I’ve never played before. It’s the fourth time I’ve qualified, so I decided to stay home."

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ABOUT THE Rhode Island Senior

36-hole stroke play championship for seniors, super seniors and legends. Eligibility: Age 55 & over. Gross & Net Divisions. Member of RIGA member club.

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