Bob Linn wins rain-shortened Berkshire Hills Singles championship
PITTSFIELD -- The final round of the Berkshire Hills Singles came to a crashing -- make that a thunderous -- halt when lightning, ear-shattering thunder, blinding rain and tree-bending winds struck Berkshire Hills Country Club around 5 p.m. and made the course unplayable.
With the final group in the championship flight having only played six holes, the flight’s scores through Saturday’s second round determined the Singles champion.
That made 36-hole leader Bob Linn a three-time winner of the tournament. Asked when he won his first Singles title, the former Berkshire Hills member walked over to a plaque that lists the past champions. The answer makes it understandable as to why he needed to check.
"The first time was in 1983," Linn said. Asked how it feels to be able to win a tournament he won as a 29-year-old again at 60 he answered simply, "fabulous."
That said, he admitted he would have preferred to have done it over the full 54 holes, but added, "I’ve been on both sides of this situation."
Before play was stopped, it looked like Linn was going to have work for victory No. 3. With back-to-back bogeys on the second and third holes, followed by a birdie on the par-5 fourth hole, he was 1 over.
That had him two shots ahead of long-hitting Boston College sophomore-to-be Patrick Oleksak, who was born about a decade after Linn’s first Singles win. Oleksak, an Agawam native, was even with a birdie and bogey. Mark Chylinski, playing in the group ahead of Linn, Oleksak and Andy Congdon, was 1-under for the day and trailed by three. Congdon, off to a 2-over start and battling a sore back, trailed by four.
Given that the back nine has three par 5s, Linn figured the front side would be crucial to his chances, especially against Longmeadow Country Club member Oleksak.
"I played with Patrick in the first round and saw how far he hits it," Linn said. "So I figured if I didn’t have the lead at the turn I might be in trouble."
We’ll never know now how it would have turned out, but Linn relishes taking on the young guns. Linn and current best-ball partner Jim Hosey, age 62, recently won the Jimmy Young Memorial Tournament at The Orchards in a field that included just-crowned Massachusetts Amateur champion John Kelly, who also won this year’s Pewter Cup at Berkshire Hills with Bill McDonald.
"It’s amazing how far some of these kids hit the ball," Linn said. "But I still believe I can compete with most of them."
Reverting back to the 36 holes, Linn won with an even-par 144 total (74-70). Oleksak (71-76) and Wyantenuck Country Club’s Congdon (70-77) tied for second. Berkshire Hills members Jeff Puleri (74-74) and George Jarck (72-76) tied for fourth with Chylinski (75-74) sixth.
Sunday’s win came during a season Linn describes as "up and down."
"It’s been a funny year," said Linn, a member at Springfield’s Franconia Golf Course. "I shot a 68 in one tournament and followed that with an 84 in a qualifer. Then I had a 67 followed by a 77."
A high point, though with a disappointing finish, came when he and Hosey lost in a playoff in the Mass. Senior Four-Ball Championship. With a slight change in strategy, he hopes this weekend’s win leads to a strong late summer and fall.
"I’ve slown down my schedule to this point," he said. "Last year, I was worn out for all the senior stuff in the fall."
Linn and Hosey will try to unseat two-time defending champions Pete Alminas and A.J. Oleksak -- Patrck’s older brother -- in the Little Brown Jug next month at Wahconah Country Club before playing in several big senior events to end the season.
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