DALTON -- For most of the final round of the Little Brown Jug on Sunday, defending champions Peter Alminas and A.J. Oleksak had a comfortable lead and appeared headed to a relatively easy victory at Wahconah Country Club.
Then, as a result of bogeys on the par-5 14th and par-4 15th, that all changed.
"We talked about it as we walked down No. 16 and figured we were either tied for the lead or maybe were up by one shot," Oleksak said.
It turned out they were tied and needed two pars and a birdie to avoid a playoff.
After pars on Nos. 16 and 17, Oleksak got the job done. He reached the green on the par-5 18th in two, putted his approach putt to within a foot of the cup, and tapped in for a birdie for the pair’s fourth victory (2008-09, 2012-13) in the best-ball event.
Alminas and Oleksak shot a final-round 1-under 70 to finish at 12-under 200.
Oleksak’s birdie spoiled the opportunity for the Wahconah members to watch two of their own take on the Pioneer Valley pair in a playoff. Past club champion Paul Briggs and Denison University golfer Aaron Klimchuk rallied with a 66 to finish second at 201.
Reaching the final green in two wasn’t easy for Oleksak.
"I hit my 3-wood into the first cut [of rough] and had a tree behind me," the 27-year-old said. "I hit a 5-iron and my club hit the tree in my backswing, but I finished the swing and hit a solid low draw that came up about 25 feet short. That was a fortunate shot."
Alminas missed the green in two but hit a good shot out of the bunker to within 5 feet, giving the pair two good chances for a birdie they knew by then that they needed.
"When we got to the green we checked out the scoreboard," Oleksak said. "It was nice to see we were tied and had two wiggles to win it."
Sunday’s three-birdie, two-bogey round was a far cry from the rounds of 63 and 67 Alminas and Oleksak started with, but they did have a comfortable lead and it was the final round.
"Playing in the first round you play a little more free than in the last round," Alminas said. "We tried to play the same way as we had, but in the back of your mind you know you have a lead and that it is the final round."
The Jug is, for obvious reasons, is a tournament the Longmeadow friends circle on their golf calendar.
"We love coming up here," Oleksak said. "The members support the event and [head professional] Jim [Underdown] does a great job, the grounds crew does an awesome job and the course is a great test. If I could set up a course condition-wise, this is how I would set it up. It’s firm and fast. That makes it difficult and those are the kinds of courses we like to play."
In addition to loving the course, they are obviously have games that complement each other.
"We just tend to play well together," said Alminas, who is also 27.
Two teams -- Justin Deitz/Matt Canavan and Chris Ferriter/Ed Garbacik -- tied for third at 203.
To contact Richard Lord:
or (413) 496-6236.