Photo courtesy of Paul Lamontagae, VT Sports Images
Everything came together this week for Bryson Richards
and his Country Club of Barre clubmates.
In his ninth try, Richards finally won the big one, bringing home the Vermont Amateur golf championship at Williston Golf Club on Thursday.
Richards shot 4-under for the tournament, besting second-place Troy Goliber
, of Burlington Country Club, by eight strokes en route to the title.
"It’s one I’ve wanted for a long time,” said Richards, who is the first Country Club of Barre golfer since Edward A. Johnston in 1951 to win the Vermont Am.
“To finally be able to get my hands on this trophy, especially what it means to the (Vermont Golf Association) and Vermont golf, it’s really special.”
Richards really put some distance between himself and the field with a third-round 67 Thursday morning, including an eagle on the 11th hole. He carried that momentum over into the front nine of his final round, birdieing the second hole and parring the majority of holes in that stretch.
“I just wanted to stick to the game plan I had all week. I didn’t want to come back to the field,” Richards said. “I didn’t want to have any issues where I would give up the lead on the last round, so I just stuck to what I was doing this week. I tried to play my golf.”
Richards came inches away from his second eagle of the day on the final hole before the turn. He had a tough shot on the par-5 ninth hole, with his ball laying outside the green on a slight uphill lie. Richards hit a perfect chip and the ball looked to be true, but it ended up hitting the pin and he settled for a birdie.
“It’s a funny shot from the fairway. It looks like it plays a little more uphill than it really does,” Richards said. “I knew if I missed short left I had good chance to make it. I hit the pin twice, but I was happy to walk away with a birdie.”
Richards has a trio of bogeys on the back nine, missing a few tough putts, but his lead was more than enough to win comfortably.
Richards’ championship capped off a dream week for the Country Club of Barre golfers, who won the McCullough Cup team competition, which wrapped up on Wednesday by 14 strokes.
Three Barre golfers were in the top 10 overall. Troy Evans
finished tied for eighth at 10-over and had six birdies across his two rounds on Thursday. Eric Lajeunesse
finished tied for 10th at 13-over with North Country product Austin Giroux
. The veteran Barre golfer had his best showing in the final round, where she shot a 68 with four birdies and just one bogey.
Rutland Country Club’s Max Major
has been known for his late-tournament runs. At last year’s Vermont Am, he shot a course-record 60 in the third round at Stowe Golf Club to shoot up the leaderboard and eventually finish sixth.
Major did the same thing on Thursday, shooting a 6-under on the front nine in the third round, with four birdies and an eagle on the sixth hole. He added a birdie on the back nine and ended up shooting a course-record 66 to once again bolt up the leaderboard.
Major finished the tournament at 6-over in a tie for third.
“I had a nice little practice session last night trying to figure it out,” Major said. “I got it under control and was able to hit it where I was looking and it was fun. I ended up hitting more drivers and got a better sense for the course.”
Three other southern Vermont golfers finished in a tie with Major, with Rutland’s Logan Broyles
, Ekwanok Country Club’s Taylor Bellemare
and Manchester Country Club’s Ryan Porter
all at 3-over as well.
Broyles had a strong third round, shooting 1-under with four birdies and was a stroke better in the final round, draining seven birdies, including two in a row on 17 and 18.
Bellemare remained in the lead pack throughout the third round, shooting even-par. He dropped four strokes in the fourth round due to some bogey issues, but still sunk four birdies across the final 18 holes.
After a down second round, Porter came back with a vengeance in the third round. shooting 1-under 70 and moving him back into the lead pack. The defending Vermont Mid-Amateur champion was paced by a trio of birdies and an eagle on the ninth hole. Porter shot 1-over in the fourth round and had three birdies.
Mount Anthony Country Club’s Cory Jozefiak, last year’s Am runner-up finished tied with Evans at 10-over in eighth place.
Proctor-Pittsford Country Club’s Nick Ojala, a Castleton University golfer, sunk a pair of birdies in the third round, shooting 3-over and he was a stroke better in his final round to finish the tournament at 14-over in a tie for 12th.
Rutland’s Frankie Sanborn had an up-and-down third round. He sunk five birdies, but a few bogeys, most notably a triple bogey on the fourth hole didn’t allow him to make a ton of headway on the leaderboard. He shot a 77 in the final round and wrapped up the tournament at 17-over in 16th.
Defending champion Garren Poirier, of Rutland CC, finished in a tie with Country Club of Barre’s Parker Fothergill at 18-over in 17th.
by Adam Aucoin, The Barre Montpellier Times Argus