Victor Fox had the New York State Men’s Amateur Golf title in his sights Thursday, but it slipped away on the final hole.
The Delmar native double bogeyed the 18th hole, while Matt Stasiak birdied it to pull out a one-stroke victory with a four-round total of 4-under-par 284 at Loudonville’s Schuyler Meadows Club.
`It was just an unbelievable match,` said Stasiak, who hails from Buffalo.
Fox had a two-stroke lead entering the final hole, but he got into trouble when his tee shot sailed into the left side bunker.
`I hit a three wood like I did the first three times, and I guess adrenaline must have kicked in and I pulled it left,` said Fox, who finished at 3-under-par 285.
Meanwhile, Stasiak set himself up with a tee shot that landed squarely in the middle of the fairway. From there, he hit a wedge shot that landed within 10 feet of the cup.
`The wedge shot going into the green won the tournament (for Stasiak),` said Fox.
Fox sent his second shot out of the bunker and landed short of the narrow, elevated green. He tried to pitch his third shot onto the green, but it landed past the green and into the rough.
Fox gave himself a chance to make bogey when he chipped his fourth shot on the par-4 18th hole to within 11 feet of the cup. Then, he watched as Stasiak made his birdie putt to move to 4-under-par.
Fox lined up for a bogey putt that would have sent the state amateur tournament to a playoff, but it sailed inches to the right of the cup.
`I should have played inside the hole,` said Fox. `I thought it would break. It just didn’t go.`
The final round featured several momentum swings between Stasiak and Fox. Stasiak burst into the lead when he birdied the second and third holes, while Fox — who began the round with a two-stroke lead on the field — bogeyed the third hole and triple bogeyed No. 4 to fall two shots off the pace.
Fox quickly gathered himself and charged back into the lead by birdying four of his next six holes. Stasiak stayed at 3-under-par to remain within striking distance, and then he birdied No. 14 and No. 15 to pull even.
The 17th hole nearly was Stasiak’s undoing when he double bogeyed to fall two shots back of Fox. But when Fox struggled on the final hole, Stasiak was able to seize the momentum one more time.
`Today definitely gave me a lot of confidence going forward,` said Stasiak, who is looking to turn pro this fall.
Though he fell short at the end, Fox said he took away a lot from his first trip to the state amateur championship — a tournament he nearly led wire to wire.
`Going into the tournament, I knew I could compete with these guys,` said Fox, who will be attending the University of Maryland on a golf scholarship this fall. `This course really set up well for me.`
The course didn’t set up well for most of the 146-golfer field. Fox, Stasiak and Trevor Sluman — nephew of PGA golfer Jeff Sluman — were the only ones to finish the tournament under par. The closest score to Sluman’s third-place total of 2-under-par 286 was a 3-over-par 291 shot by Shane Dobesh and former state amateur champion Jim Scorse.
`As the week went on, the greens got harder,` said Stasiak. `Today, they were very smooth.`