Aiden Didone (Golf Australia photo)
By Rick Woelfel
Aiden Didone was a long way from home this week. Home for Didone is Malvern East, Australia, a Melbourne suburb, and it’s a long way from Lewiston, N.Y., where he spent the week competing in the 61st Porter Cup.
The trip was worth it.
The 21-year old Didone overcame a three-stroke deficit at the start of the final round to claim the tournament title. He fired a 1-under 69 on Saturday at Niagara Falls Country Club to finish 72 holes at 10-under 270.
Chun An Yu, an Arizona State senior from Tempe, Ariz., held the lead when the sun rose Saturday morning but his closing 74 left him two shots behind at 8-under 272.
He and Didone were tied for the lead standing on the tee at the 460-yard par-4 17th but after Didone birdied and Yu bogeyed the margin was two shots heading to the 189-yard par-3 finisher, which both players parred.
John Pak of Scotch Plains, N.J., shared second place with Yu at 272 after a closing 67.
Reid Davenport, of Austin, Texas, finished alone in fourth place after his closing 71 put him at 6-under 274.
Five players were at 275 including Austin Hitt of Longwood, Fla., Evan Long of New Castle, Pa., Noah Norton of Chico, Cal., Matt Parziale of Brockton, Mass., and Garrett Rank of Elmira, Ontario. Rank’s closing 66 matched the low round of the day among the 87 players who completed 72 holes.
Tyler Strafaci, who was part of the final group with Didone and Yu, wound up at 276 after a 74.
Yu was three shots clear of Didone when the pair set out on their final round shortly after noon. A few minutes later, the margin was just a single shot after Yu double bogeyed the opening hole. Both players birdied the third but Didone parred the fourth to move into a tie for the lead, then birdied the sixth to take the lead alone. He made the turn in 2-under par for the round and 11 under for the tournament.
At that point, he held a three-shot lead over Yu, who was four over par for his opening nine.
Yu closed the gap over the first seven holes on the inward nine to set up the finish.
For Didone, his victory at the Porter Cup is part of what might be called an ‘endless summer.’ The early months of 2019 were summer and fall in Australia and Didone won the Tasmanian Open in March. He also qualified for match play at the Australian Amateur earlier this year and also placed second at the Riversdale Classic, the second oldest 72-hole medal-play event in his homeland.
As a youth, he won the Victorian State Primary Schools Championship in 2009 and later represented his home state in team matches.
Just 16 players finished under par. The Porter Cup was first played in 1959. Past winners include Dean Beaman (1964), Howard Twitty (1970), Ben Crenshaw (1971), Vinny Giles (1973), George Burns (1974), Jay Sigel (1975, ’81, ‘87), John Cook (1979), Nathaniel Crosby (1982), Phil Mickelson (1990), David Duval (1992), and Allen Doyle (1994).
Only one champion has successfully defended: Bob Smith won back-to-back titles in 1966 and ’67. Davis Love III, Tiger Woods, Tom Lehman, Justin Leonard, and Hal Sutton all competed in the tournament at one time or another.
ABOUT THE Porter Cup
One of the premier amateur events in the
nation, this 72-hole stroke play invitational has
extra activities that give this event a special
The winning player receives a green blazer, as
invitation to the Master of the Amateurs
tournament in Melbourne, Australia. Pre-
tournament qualifying is a few weeks prior to the
approximately five spots are available. The
field is open to the
first 90 entrants with handicaps less than 3.
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