Anthony Delisanti uses scorching final round to win Northeast Amateur in a playoff
Anthony Delisanti (Back of the Range Photo)
Anthony Delisanti (Back of the Range Photo)

Anthony Delisanti made many new friends this week in Rhode Island.

Legendary Northeast Amateur Invitational starter Joe Pieranunzi is one of them. It was Delisanti’s first time competing in the 62nd edition of this historic tournament at Wannamoisett Country Club, and “Joe P” made sure to make his new friend feel at home. When the junior from Valparaiso stepped onto the first tee earlier in the week, he started to explain the correct way to pronounce his name.

“C’mon,” Pieranunzi quickly responded. “I’m Italian like you.”

Pieranunzi monitored Delisanti closely the entire week, and the two embraced after the newcomer won the tournament by defeating Bryan Lee on the fifth playoff hole.

“I knew he was pulling for me from the moment he met me,” said Delisanti, who posted rounds of 64-68-71-62 – 265. “He’s awesome, great guy. He’s another paisan.”

The two didn’t have time to break bread after the tournament, but they spent a few minutes discussing the victory. It was the first time the Northeast Amateur needed extra holes to decide the winner since Justin Shin defeated Jordan Russell in a 3-hole aggregate playoff in 2012.

Mother Nature also wreaked havoc Friday and Saturday, forcing play to be suspended twice, including during the sudden-death portion of Saturday’s playoff.

It was a familiar situation for Delisanti. Last July, he lost after a 6-hole playoff to Marshall Meisel at the 82nd Monroe Invitational in Pittsfield, N.Y. The rainy and miserable conditions were almost identical in both tournaments, but this time, Delisanti produced a different outcome when he outlasted Lee on the fifth playoff hole (second sudden-death hole) with a birdie putt at Wannamoisett.

Delisanti is currently ranked No. 141 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Rankings.Delisanti finished T11 at the Sunnehanna Amateur, so he is off to a great start in the Elite Amateur Golf Series.

 It feels great,” he said. “It was a big sigh of relief to see the last one go in. It’s pretty crazy. It feels like déjà vu. Last year at Monroe it was the exact same scenario. It was a 6-hole playoff in pouring rain, so I was perfectly prepared for (Saturday). Bryan played great. He put a lot of pressure on me. It was a lot of fun.”

A bit of luck also helped Delisanti en route to victory. On the first sudden-death hole, he moved his ball maker away from Lee’s line, and when it was Delisanti’s time to putt, he almost forgot to replace the maker to its original spot. More than a few fans shouted, alerting him to replace the marker.

“That was a great call by whoever told me to do it,” Delisanti said with a smile. “I totally forgot about it, but I was so locked in, trying to get the read.”

He made the par putt, matching Lee’s before play was suspended due to lightning.

When play resumed, Delisanti needed only two more shots to claim victory. Since No. 3 was designated the sudden-death hole, both players were comfortable with the par-3 that was playing 138 yards with a middle right hole location.

“My 48-degree flies about 135, 140 so I knew I could aggressive. The first time we played it when I had to save par, my first shot went way long, but once the wind died down it was a perfect club,” he said.

It also helped that Delisanti’s girlfriend, Kennedy Lang, served as his caddie. The couple have been dating for three years after meeting at Wilbur Golf Course. So, when Delisanti needed a caddie for the Northeast Amateur, there was no need to text any of his friends.

“It was awesome. She had a great time. It was her first time caddying for me in a tournament like this,” Delisanti said. “She did a great job, especially in the rain on the last couple of playoff holes. She made it a lot easier for me that’s for sure . . . she’s the most positive person I know. Especially after the front nine (Friday) she kept me going and said, ‘We’re still in this” and she was right.”

It was evident during the entire tournament they were having fun on the course and even had a little competition of their own going. Every time Delisanti would make a huge divot, he was retrieve it and toss it back to Lang to see if she could handle the mush of grass, sand and dirt. She won.

“We had a lot of fun,” Lang said. “It was good. I think it kept him occupied. I’m always talking about random stuff, so that always helps. I usually go watch, but it was awesome to be involved in the shot and have him explain to me his thought process. I’m just like, ‘commit, hit it and let’s go.’ It was awesome.”

While three-round leader Hunter Thomson gained most of the attention Saturday, Delisanti started to play well and capitalized on his opportunities. He posted a clean scorecard, including seven birdies for an impressive 62 to tie for the lead at 11-under, forcing the playoff.

“I knew I needed to do something special on the final 18,” he said. “Mentally, left the door open for something good to happen. I got the putter hot on the front nine and then the rest of the way I kind of cruised in a little bit and really couldn’t get it going on the back nine.”

If he had drained the 15-foot birdie putt on No. 18, he would have matched the course record of 61. He didn’t realize it at the time, but knew he was low and atop the leaderboard.

After all the pomp and circumstance Saturday evening, Delisanti and his girlfriend loaded up his SUV for the trek back to Buffalo. He then has a flight to Pinehurst, N.C., for the North & South Amateur this week. The 2023 Northeast Amateur champion, Nick Dunlap, also won the North & South Amateur last year, so Delisanti is hoping to match it.

Maybe Joe P will send a bit of buona fortuna Delisanti’s way for the remainder of the golf season. It is safe to say he’s leaving Rhode Island with great memories.

“This was my first time playing and this place is unbelievable,” Delisanti said. “They did an amazing job. It was a lot of fun to compete out here. The golf course is different than any other course we play on the Elite Amateur Series. It has its quirks and is fun to play. The membership buys into the tournament, supporting a lot of groups. It makes guys want to come back every year.”

Now that Delisanti is a Northeast Amateur champion, he’s earned a lifetime amateur exemption.

“This is the biggest win on my resume, for sure,” he said.

Recap courtesy of Joe McDonald of the Rhode Island Golf Association

Results: Northeast Amateur
T1NYAnthony DelisantiSanborn, NY120064-68-71-62=265
2VABryan LeeFairfax, VA90067-66-66-66=265
T3TNCameron TankersleyDickson, TN70069-67-67-63=266
T3UTZac JonesHighland, UT70066-68-66-66=266
T5TNLance SimpsonKnoxville, TN70070-68-67-62=267

View full results for Northeast Amateur

ABOUT THE Northeast Amateur

The Northeast Amateur has a historic list of winners, including Ben Crenshaw, Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa, Luke Donald, Scott Hoch, John Cook, Hal Sutton, and David Duval. It has been annually held at the Donald Ross-designed Wannamoisett Country Club since 1962. The event is limited to 90 elite players; there is a cut after 54 holes and the entire tournament is played in twosomes.

View Complete Tournament Information

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