Tee to Green: Dahrouge, Ortega win Country Club of Pittsfield Men's Invitational

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Jeff Puleri, who teamed with Randy Driscoll to win last year's Country Club of Pittsfield Men's Invitational, said prior to last weekend's 2017 event that he believed the field was stronger than in 2016 and pointed to the team of John Dahrouge and Matt Ortega as one reason why.

Turns out the Berkshire Hills Country Club president knew what he was talking about. Dahrouge and Ortega, despite a very tough draw in the championship flight, captured the match-play, best-ball tournament with a strong two-day run that included knocking off the defending champions and ended with with a 3-up victory over the youthful, long-hitting pairing of Chad Alibozek and Jake Matthews.

"I think we beat the best," said Dahrouge of the four duos he and his many-time partner vanquished in their two-day run.

They started by knocking off the veteran team of Greg Knight and Adam Kirby, two of the host club's best most experienced players, before defeating the defending champions 1-up in the quarterfinals.

"It was a back-and-forth match and both teams played very well," said Dahrouge, the most-recent past president at Berkshire Hills, said of the quarterfinal win. "We finished 5-under."

In a match that started on the par-71 course's back nine, it was all even heading to the final three holes on the front.

"Two of the three are among the longest holes on the course," said Dahrouge, who is quick to admit he has lost some distance off the tee in recent years.

Despite that, he came through in the clutch on the 405-yard seventh hole — it plays longer with an uphill second shot — and the challenging 562-yard, par-5 eighth.

"I managed to make a nice par on No. 7 to halve the hole and then made a miraculous par on No. 8," Dahrouge said.

With his partner struggling on the trouble-filled eighth, things weren't looking too good after Dahrouge found himself in "the junk" on the bank of a greenside bunker in three with Puleri and Driscoll both having birdie putts.

"I wasn't sure how to play the shot," Dahrouge said. "I took what I thought was my best option and it came out perfect. I made the putt from 3 feet and neither of them made their birdie putts."

"It was a tremendous par," said Puleri. "It got us back on our heels. We were thinking we were going to win that hole. Kudos to them, they made all the shots they had to."

With momentum on their side, it was Ortega's turn. The Stockbridge Golf Club member knocked his tee shot on the 170-yard ninth hole to within about 12 feet and drained the putt to win the match. It was far from the only clutch putt they made.

"We were putting well all weekend," Ortega said. "I think that is why we won. I think we out-putted everyone that we played."

Having survived two Saturday tests, they faced another dynamic duo — 13-time CC of Pittsfield club champion Matt Scarafoni and Pioneer Valley standout Chris Ferriter — in the semifinals. They came away with a 2-and-1 victory, clinching it when both teams could make no better than bogey on the tough, par-3 17th hole.

Having played with Alibozek several times in the Berkshire Hills Singles, Dahrouge knew he and his partner would be giving up plenty of distance in the final against the former All-Eagle MVP during his great high school career at Hoosac Valley.

Matthews, a former Pittsfield High standout, also can take it deep.

"He is immensely long," Dahrouge said of Alibozek's game.

Ortega, who says he could keep up off the tee against the duo's previous foes, concedes he couldn't keep up with the young bombers. One shot — and it wasn't even with a driver — made a lasting impression on the 52-year-old.

"Chad hit a hybrid off the tee on No. 7 that I thought was in a bunker, but John says 'no, it's over the bunker,' " Ortega recalls. "I said 'you've got to be kidding me.' "

For those who haven't played at the CC of Pittsfield, that is indeed a bomb, as was Alibozek's drive on the 450-yard 14th that left him with 120 yards to the green.

It was a deadlocked match until Ortega took charge on the par-4 13th hole and par-5 14th.

"I made a 20-footer for birdie on No. 13 and that juiced me up," Ortega said.

Perhaps a little too juiced up — he hit a major hook with his driver on the reachable 14th.

"I was lucky that I hit it all the way into the 15th fairway and I had a chance to go for the green," Ortega said. "I hit a 7-iron over the trees and onto the back of the green. I didn't know where it ended up until everyone told me it was a great shot."

With Alibozek and Matthews both having birdie putts and the pin on the front of the green, Ortega probably would have taken his birdie and run to the next tee.

"The putt was from the back of the green to the front, probably at least 40 feet," he said. "I walked it in when it was about 5 feet from the hole. I don't usually do that, but I could see it was perfect and going in."

Up two, they closed out the match and the tournament when Alibozek and Matthews failed to make a par on the par-4 15th hole.

This wasn't the first time the pair has won at the South Street club. They won the Allied Association Four-Ball title earlier in the decade.

"It's not overly long, so I feel like I can reach everything and hang in there to make some birdies, especially in match play," said Dahrouge, who has been working hard on his game after a couple of sub-par seasons. "Also, the greens are true and quick and I like that."

"I can hit 3-woods off the tee and keep it in the fairway on most of the holes," said Ortega. "The course really sets up well for us."

As for their success as a team?

"We have been partners for a long time and I think I am calming influence for him," Dahrouge said. "When he's calm he is a high-quality player."

"I get more amped up than he does, I'd probably be a better player if he always caddied for me," said Ortega.

The duo will get another chance to play together next weekend when Berkshire Hills hosts the Pewter Cup.

———

Jason Thresher, of West Suffield, Conn., became the seventh golfer to capture back-to-back Massachusetts Open championship earlier this week when he captured the title at the TGC at Sacconnessett in East Falmouth on Wednesday.

Thresher shot a final-round 69 to finish at 7-under 209 for a two-shot victory over New Hampshire golfer Chris Houston and Cape Cod's Josh Salah.

The only player from a Berkshire County club in the field, Taconic Golf Club assistant pro Thomas Sennett, missed the cut. Sennett, who didn't get a chance to play a practice round at the course, had rounds of 80 and 77.

———

LOCAL GOLF RESULTS

Country Club of Pittsfield

Men's Invitational

Best ball, match play


Championship flight — Champions: John Dahrouge and Matt Ortega. Runners-up: Chad Alibozek and Jake Matthews. Consolation winners: Randy Driscoll and Jeff Puleri.

First flight — Champions: Greg Fisk and Dave Laporte. Runners-up: Tim Naughton and Joe Laroche. Consolation winners: Kelly and Brennan Collins.

Second flight — Champions: Geoffrey Davis and Robert Withee. Runners-up: David Rice and Brian Gulino. Consolation winners: Stan Tenerowicz and Mike Jachym.

Third flight — Champions: Todd and Jake Driscoll. Runners-up: Will Bassett and Tom Palivoda. Consolation winners: Fred Cox and Paul Sweeney.

Fourth flight — Champions: Joe Gotterer and Bill Fogel. Runners-up: Dave Rosenthal and Mike Moskowitz. Consolation winners: Dave Oleksak and Dick McCann.

Fifth flight — Champions: Ed Murri and Greg Therrien. Runners-up: Kevin Mitts and Mike Coakley. Consolation winners: Joe McDonald and Randy Koldys.

Closest to the pin — No. 4: Bryan Conant. No. 9: Chris Ferriter. No. 13: Joe McDonald. No. 17: Joe LaRoche.

2017 Paul Dowd Jimmy Fund Golf Classic

Sponsored by the Berkshire County Jimmy Fund Council

At Berkshire Hills Country Club

Four-person scramble


First Flight — 1. Steve Sykes, Patrick Codey, Paul Fortini, Jim Salvie. 61 (won tiebreaker ). 2. Tony Clement, Jake Keller, Malcolm Frazer, Jim Karlson 61 (won tiebreaker for second place). 3. Chip Moore, John Salvini, Jay Anderson, Jim Scalise 61.

Second flight — 1. Ryan Porter, Mike Fortin, Luke Toomey, Ray Westerman, 60. 2. Chico Gelinas, Jamie Pollard, Leo Kruczkowski, Scott Washburn 61 (won tiebreaker). 3. Jim Nichols, Bob Nichols, Tim Nichols, Elise Nichols 61.

Third Flight — 1. Gildo DeSanctis Sr., Gildo DeSanctis Jr., Pete Sondrini, Keith Lovellette 63. 2. Bryon Sherman, Jim Clark, Matt Cripps, John Lander 64. 3 Wayne Soares, Bob Allietta, Diane Magargal.

Closest to the pin — No. 3: Jake Driscoll. No. 7: Jim McGaugh. No. 17: Joe Woitkoski.

Longest Drive on No. 11: Women: Elise Nichols. Men: Steve Sykes

2017 Paul Dowd Award winner: Kevin Brennan

Women's Allied Association

At Skyline Country Club


Low gross — 1. Deb Wiencek (Forest Park CC) Angie Linger (Waubeeka GL), 77. 2. Alison Lucy and Chris Eugin (Worthington GC), 78.

Low net — 1. Nancy Renzi and Diane Flynn (Skyline CC) 63. 2. Liz Drury and Sue Duffy (Wahconah CC), 64.

Worthington Golf Club

Open 4-person scramble


Low gross — 1. John Coelho, Leo Desmarias, Neal Slocombe, Sam Slocombe. 2. John Stacy, Irv Sanders, Dennis Rabitor, John Wilkes.

Low net — 1. Josh Fleming, Paul Lasch, Bob Smith, Dennis Boldyga. 2. Alison Lucey, Doug Link. Doug Reed Ann Pickrell

Skins — No. 6: Billy Spitzer. 11: John Coelho

Waubeeka Golf Links

Two-ball Open


Low gross — 1. Pat Grogan and Dr. Donald Meed, 68. 2. (tie) Dan and Chris Bourdon, 72; Jeff Racz and Joe Macutkiewicz, 72; Chris Baran and John Dabrowski, 72.

Low net — 1. Jerry Bush and Jim Corkins, 56. 2. Ed Flaherty and Fred Scully, 59. 3. (tie) Denny Lawson and Don Pierce; Jerry Bush and Chris Bourdon, 62.


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