Monday October 15, 2012

STOCKBRIDGE -- It's a good thing that Chad Alibozek isn't a big believer in omens. If he did, he might not have taken home his third Berkshire Classic championship trophy.

"My freshman year, I was in the same exact spot [on the 12th hole] pretty much within five yards and I stuck it for birdie," Alibozek said. "This year, I made double [bogey]. It was different. I didn't think I was going to win there."

But win he did.

The Hoosac Valley senior rescued a round that included three consecutive double bogeys with a birdie on the par-5 15th hole, and finished with a 7-over 78 at the Stockbridge Golf Club. He was the only golfer to break 80, and his round was good enough to beat Lee freshman Devyn Olds by three strokes.

"It's an honor to win this three times, because you're considered the best player in the league," said Alibozek. "It's a big one."

Alibozek won as a freshman here and won last year when the tournament was held at the Berkshire Hills Country Club in Pittsfield.

The runner-up might have been a bit of a surprise. Olds was in the last group of the day and the only foursome. The Wildcat freshman had three birdies -- the most of any top finisher -- and wrapped up with an 81.

"It's pretty cool to come that close to one of the best players that has played in high school in a long time," Olds said.

The next 10 golfers all finished within four shots of Olds. Pittsfield's Jake Matthews and Olds' Lee teammate, Jared Fadding, tied for third at 82.

The course played a little longer than its 6,234 yards off the white tees because of early-morning rains. But by the time the first groups were heading for the clubhouse, the sun was out.

For Alibozek, the match was decided on No. 15. He was playing with Lenox's Thomas Villetto and Pittsfield's Ryan Grande, and had made the turn at 1 over and with a two-shot lead on Villetto.

After making pars on Nos. 10 and 11, Alibozek went on a magical mystery tour of double bogeys on 12, 13 and 14. He found the creek on the par-4 12th before making a six. On 13, he said he "chunked" a chip in making his second double. Alibozek attributed his double bogey on the par-3 14th to being angry and "trying to make something out of nothing."

Then on No. 15, Alibozek needed only two shots on the 455-yard 15th to reach the green. He had what he said was a makeable eagle putt of 15 feet, but just missed it and settled for a birdie.

"That was key," said Alibozek. "Then on 16, I made a 10-footer uphill that I had to make. I knew I had to or I was done."

While that was going on, Lenox's Villetto was trying to remain in the hunt. Alibozek's troubles opened a door that the Lenox golfer was unable to walk through. While Alibozek was making his three doubles, Villetto could only manage two bogeys and a par. The Lenox golfer then bogeyed 16 while Alibozek made his par.

"I missed a 12-inch putt, an easy up-and-down, and missed a pretty easy birdie while he was making three doubles," Villetto said, "He's giving me chances to come back. I'm getting these chances and did not convert at all."

The runner-up went off in the last group from the back nine and admitted that it took him a little while to get rolling.

"I started off playing bogey, par golf," he said. "Then it turned into birdie, par golf. It was a good round."

Olds came home with back-to-back birdies on the fifth and sixth holes, narrowly missing a hole-in-one on No. 5.

"I missed a hole-in-one by two inches," Olds said with a smile. "I hit a pitching wedge. I thought I hit it short and it was going to go right in the bunker."

Which would have been quite a way to put an exclamation point on a good day.

To reach Howard Herman:
hherman@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.