Taking home a crystal trophy
No. 14 and made par but still thought I would have lost one [stroke] there because it’s an easy par-5 to birdie. But then I was able to hit it to within a foot on 15 and that kind of balanced it out to keep me in it.”
Vallandingham drained a 20-footer on No. 17 and then drilled his tee shot on 18 to get it close to seal the deal.
“I hit a lot of greens and that gave me a lot of looks for birdies,” said Niemann, who graduated from Northern High School in 2008. “I didn’t hit them all [for birdies] and I made a few and a couple silly mistakes gave Tracy a chance and he capitalized with a few birdies. And that was the difference between us two. He’s a really good player and he’s a lot of fun to watch.”
Niemann led at the turn, but bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11 opened the door for Vallanandingham.
“He continued to hit fairways and greens and he started making putts,” said Niemann, who has three top-5 finishes the past four years. “It’s kind of hard to catch a guy who’s doing that. I made a couple birdies coming in, but it wasn’t enough when he wasn’t letting off the gas pedal.”
Mark Cusic of California and Tyler Koch of Issue, who held a two-stroke lead at the 14th hole, each finished with a three-day score of 217. Cas Dickerson of Bel Alton and Bill Jenner of La Plata were two shots back at 219.
“I didn’t really putt the ball very well all week,” said Dickerson, who graduated from McDonough High School in 2012 and just graduated from Towson University. “I hit it ver y good for 54 holes but did not putt the ball I way I should have to keep myself in contention. Not really sure [why] to be honest with you; I just didn’t feel very good over the putts. I hit it very well for three days; just didn’t putt it ver y well.”
Robert Vanni birdied three of his first seven holes on the day to finish with a 216 and win the first flight.
“I knew if I came in here and played my game I’d have a chance to compete and I did,” said Vanni, who grew up in Bryantown, graduated from St. Mary’s Ryken High School in 2011 and recently graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University. “I left some putts out there, but I haven’t played a tournament in a while so it felt good I could play at a good level.”
Tall Timbers resident Jay Dove grabbed second place with a 222 and Rusty Hall of Waldorf was six strokes back in third place.
Corey Gates of Mechanicsville won the second flight thanks in large part where he birdied four holes in a six-hole span on the front nine on Sunday to finish with a 227. Port Republic’s Christopher Simpson (231) and Erik Koch of Issue (232) were second and third, respectively.
Brian Garner of La Plata shot a 37 on the back nine Sunday to win the third flight with a 239, five strokes ahead of Tommy Bowes of Valley Lee. Michael Vanni of Vienna, Va., took third (247).
The fourth flight was claimed by Colin O’Neill of California after he finished with a 255, one stroke better than runner-up Stephen Munley of St. Inigoes. Prince Frederick’s Ray Simmons carded a 265.
The closest flight was the fifth where five strokes separated the top-3 finishers. Leonardtown’s Peter Johnson won with 265, while Chris Dyson of Hollywood (267) was second and Eric Kerig, also of Leonardtown, was third (271).
If there’s such a thing as winning at the wire in golf, Joe Fenlon did exactly that to win the Senior Championship. The La Plata resident trailed Jim Hicks by a stroke heading to the 18th tee but pulled out the win when he birdied the hole and Hicks bogeyed it.
“It’s awesome,” said Fenlon, 62, who has won six championships, including the last two. “We have a good senior team that plays in local tournaments so to play and beat those guys that many times is an honor.”
Fenlon, a retired police officer who plays three times a week at Breton Bay, had four birdies on the final day, including the critical one when he carded a four on No. 18.
Despite the loss, Hicks won the first senior flight with a 221, three strokes better than runner-up Layne Ponder of Lexington Park.
Wayne Clarke of Hollywood took third with a three-day total of 229.
Leonardtown’s Steve Wolfe shot a 242 to win the senior second flight by eight strokes over Mike Foster of Edgewater. William Dippel of Lothian was a stroke back in third place.
Tom Phelan of Hollywood (Senior Flight 3, 270) and Dick Stearns of Clements (Super Senior flight, 248) also chalked up wins.
Ryan Stearns of Leonardtown won the junior flight with a 247, one stroke better than DJ Littleford of Mechanicsville.
Jim Hicks of White Plains chips onto the green on his way to a win in the Senior Division’s Flight 1 Sunday at the Southern Maryland Amateur Golf Tournament at Breton Bay Golf & Country Club in Leonardtown.