Richard Lord | Tee to Green: Ortega, Barry capture Allied Mixed Scotch title
STOCKBRIDGE — The par-4 17th is perhaps the last hole at Stockbridge Golf Club you'd want to play twice if you needed two birdies to claim a tournament victory, but Matt Ortega and Janice Barry inherited that task and successfully completed it to capture the Allied Mixed Scotch Championship a week ago today.
The second birdie on the dogleg-right hole came on the second hole of a three-way, sudden-death playoff to clinch the win over defending champions Thomas Berkel and Kathy Sullivan as well the the Links of Worthington pairing of Jeff Racz and Chris Eugin. The three teams all finished at 1-over par.
All three duos made pars on the first playoff hole, the par-4 16th. Then on the risk-reward 17th Ortega, a member at Stockbridge, hit a shot that all six golfers are all likely to remember for some time, no doubt with differing emotions.
"I can try to go over the corner there, so I asked Janice to try to put a drive in the fairway so I could go for it," said Ortega of a strategy that led to a crucial birdie the first time around — on their last hole of the round — when he bombed a drive that left a short approach shot for Barry that eventually resulted in a birdie.
Things didn't start out the same way in the playoff, however. Barry did her part, splitting the fairway, but Ortega's drive didn't clear the trouble so the duo was forced to play from 170 yards instead of the 20-yard approach they faced just minutes earlier.
"Unbelievable, what a shot," is the way an appreciative Barry described Ortega's resulting laser-like iron shot that finished, according to her, "maybe 2 inches from the hole. ... It was a putt I didn't need to be nervous about."
"I'm getting old, so I don't always see the shot land, but as soon as I hit it, even Mazz (Stockbridge head professional Steve Mazzariello) said it was going right at the hole," Ortega said.
With neither of their foes able to match Ortega's magic, the longtime friends captured the tournament for the second time, having prevailed six years ago at Wahconah Country Club. Obviously, they have found a way to mesh in a format that demands both players contribute.
"We just have fun out there," Barry said. "If we make a mistake, we don't get down, Matt will just say, 'we're fine, we'll make birdies.' I was finding the fairways and he is so steady with the irons that we was leaving me good putts."
"We are friends and have fun playing together," Ortega said. "She really hits it a long way and leaves me a lot of short wedges to greens."
In both of their Allied victories, Ortega and Barry managed to finish with a dramatic flourish.
"Six years ago, Janice hit her third shot on the (par 5) 18th hole at Wahconah to two inches to clinch that win," recalled Ortega.
For the day, the champions finished with four bogeys and three bogeys, but two of the birdies came over the last five holes as they rallied for the victory.
Berkel and Sullivan, who recently won the Women's Allied women's championship, had a steady performance in their title defense, making two bogeys and a single birdie on the par-3 11th hole. Racz and Eugin, who also finished second in last year's tournament, had three bogeys and a pair of bogeys.
Stockbridge Golf Club's David and Julie Rathbun took low net honors with a 12-under total.
The Berkshire Hills Country Club team of Bob Linn and Ralph Dastoli showed a field of New Yorkers that they can play, walking away with a one-sided victory in the Senior Division of the Donald Ross Invitational best-ball tournament at Teugega Country Club in Rome, N.Y. last weekend.
With Dastoli leading the way, the pair opened with a sensational 8-under 63 and never looked back, closing a a 68 for a 36-hole total of 11-under 131. The 62-year-old Dastoli made six birdies on his own ball in the opening round.
"Ralph hit the tee ball as good as I have ever seen him hit it, he was never out of position" Linn said. "He had a five-hole stretch where he made three birdies with putts that totaled less than 3 feet. It was crazy."
Dastoli, who finished second in the Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Championship in the spring on Cape Cod with Mark Chylinski, has been known to get himself on some birdie runs, which works well with the usually steady Linn.
"Ralph's a good partner for me," said Linn, the 2009 Mass. Senior Player of the Year. "I don't go around making six or eight birdies, and he makes a lot of them."
And, of course, Linn's resume suggests he is a good partner for anyone to team up with.
"Bobby is a premier player, playing with him makes everything much easier," Dastoli said.
Armed with a four-shot lead, Linn took over the birdie-making duties in the second round, making four of the five the pair had in a round of 68 that included three bogeys.
"We had a couple of unforced errors, but by the turn we were up by six shots," Dastoli said.
Sometimes in golf, you never know when a negative can turn into a positive, at least in the short term. Linn thought that a shoulder problem his partner was having may have actually had a positive impact on his accurate driving. Dastoli agreed.
"I've been playing with a shoulder injury, and that might have kept me in check and put me in the right position," Dastoli said,
In case anyone has a chance to travel to Rome, N.Y., for some golf, the winners know where they should try to tee it up.
"What a fantastic golf course," said Dastoli. "We played here last year and we had to come back."
"It's a little gem," Linn said. "Every green is a world unto itself. At some Ross and (A.W.) Tillinghast courses, the slopes are too severe for today's conditions, but not there. . . . It's just a great golf course."
Linn, meanwhile, will look to take the momentum from last week's victory to Maine where he will be in the field for this week's New England Senior Amateur.
Apparently, one win wasn't enough this week for Dastoli. He went on to combine with partners Scott Hunter, Dennis Boldyga and Robert Smith to capture Wednesday's Berkshire County Senior Fall Series tournament at Skyline Country Club.
Dastoli and Co. combined for a four-man scramble score of 60 to finish in a tie with Bill Gates, Bob Messer, Tom Dubouis and Mike Cartier. They took the win in a matching of the cards on the back nine.
This Wednesday's tournament will be a two-man scramble at Berkshire Hills Country Club. Call 413-442-1451 to enter. The following Wednesday the series will move to Greenock Country Club for a singles tournament. Call 413-243-3323 to enter.
The entry fee is $45 and play is open to players 50 and over.
Allied Mixed Scotch Championship
at Stockbridge Golf Club
1. Matt Ortega and Janice Barry, 72 (won playoff). 2. (tie) Thomas Berkel and Kathy Sullivan, 72; Jeff Racz and Chris Eugin, 72. 4. Curt Foehl and Mace Foehl-Hemphill, 73. 5. Stephen and Patty Peltier, 75.
1. David and Julie Rathbun,. 59. 2. Jeff Snyder andJodi Rathbun, 61. 3. (tie) Fred and Debbie Goerlach, 63; Scott Preston and Emily Figiela, 63. 5. Ed and Leslie Figiela, 64.
Al Field, on the 145-yard 16th hole at Waubeeka Golf Links with a 7-hybird. Witnesses: Bob Williams Bob DeSanty and Woody Gravel.
On Aug. 30, Donnybrook Country Club saw two golfers record aces. Kevin White hit his on No. 4, with Bob McDonough, dan Kelly and Jim Kelly all witnessing. According to the club, the hole-in-one was the fifth for White in his career.
Also, William Kerwood hit an ace on No. 4. Using a 7-iron, Kerwood's shot was witnessed by John Keegan. According to the club, it was Kerwood's second hole-in-one in his 57-year career.
Richard Lord can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-281-2226.
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