Brad Valois repeats at the John P. Burke Memorial
Brad Valois <br>(New England Golf Monthly)
Brad Valois
(New England Golf Monthly)

NARRAGANSETT, RI (May 10, 2017) - It took Brad Valois 10 years to win his first John P. Burke Memorial Championship. It took him only one more year to take the title a second time.

The four-time State Amateur champion successfully defended his crown in the RIGA’s season-opening Burke event on Wednesday and did it with some drama. He recorded a 1-under-par 70 at Shelter Harbor, highlighted by a birdie on the last hole, to edge Bobby Leopold and George Pirie by two shots.

Valois led by only one as he reached the 18th tee. That was at about the same time Leopold was parring the 18th for a 70 and 143 total. Pirie was in the final threesome with Valois, two shots behind. Valois hit a good drive on the right side of the fairway on the scenic 422-yard, uphill closing hole.

As he prepared to hit his second shot, Leopold picked up his golf bag and said, "He’s not going to make bogey from there."

Valois, meanwhile, was unaware how he stood.

"I had no idea. I had no idea all day where I stood," he said. His focus was on his shot. "I had 141 yards and hit a cut seven-iron."

Valois stuck it four-feet from the hole, exactly pin high, then tapped in for bird to win by two. That gave him a 36-hole total of 1-under 141 after his opening 71 on Tuesday at Point Judith.

Pirie, the 68-year-old periodontist who continues to defy time, also had bird on 18 for a 70 and 143. Billy Forcier, the third member of the final group, had moved into a tie for the lead when he birdied the par-5 16th, but he went into the water on the par-3 17th and tripled. He settled for a tie for fourth at 147 with Dean Parziale.

While Valois is accustomed to winning titles, he is still getting his game in shape.

"This is the first time I’ve been under-par this year in about 10 rounds,’’ he said. "I still haven’t been able to hit balls on the range."

By the time the contenders made the turn heading into the final nine looked as if a former University of Rhode Island star would win the tournament. The question was, which one. Four players had pulled away from the pack and three were former Rams. Valois and Forcier were teammates at URI a decade ago. Pirie excelled for the Rams almost four decades earlier. They were 1-2-3 much of the way until Leopold, a former Rollins College star, closed strongly to take second.

Fittingly, retired URI coach Tom Drennan stopped in to watch some of the action in the final round. Drennan, though retired from URI, now helps coach the South Kingstown High golf team.

Pirie settled for the Senior Division Championship, even though he was one of the few seniors to play from the blue, or back tees. Those tees were about 400 yards longer than the white tees. It is the second year the RIGA has allowed seniors to play a shorter course if they wish.

The event, which benefits the state’s caddy scholarship fund, turned into a terrific way to begin the RIGA tournament season.

As has been the case through most of the spring, the weather was chilly and raw, not exactly ideal golfing conditions. But the leaders played as if they were in midseason form.

View results for John P. Burke Memorial

ABOUT THE John P. Burke Memorial

54-hole stroke play tournament with open and senior divisions, with gross and net competitions. Eligibility: All amateur golfers who are a member at RIGA member club and hold a RIGA membership.

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