Quillinan wins Tri-County Match Play title

A recent trip to Florida for some spring-break golf rounds in windy cond­itions paid off in a big wa

A recent trip to Florida for some spring-break golf rounds in windy cond­itions paid off in a big way for Steve Quillinan Jr.

Quillinan survived wind gusts of 30 and 40 miles per hour to defeat Steve Owens of Normanside Country Club, 6-and-4, in the finals of the Tri-County Golf Association Match Play Championship Sunday at Colonie Golf & Country Club.

Quillinan, a 19-year-old senior at Albany Academy and a member of the Country Club of Troy, registered only one birdie, a conceded four-footer on the 14th hole, but he stayed out of major trouble en route to winning his first Capital Region major amateur event.

He won the first hole with a par, and took the second with a bogey after Owens had no swing with his ball up against a tree. Owens, a 39-year-old Siena College grad­uate, got one hole back with a par on the fifth hole after Quillinan three-putted for bogey, but Quillinan won the seventh, eighth and ninth holes with pars to go 4-up.

Owens got a par on the 10th hole to get back within three holes, but Quillinan’s par on the 11th hole built his lead back to 4-up.

Owens hit his second shot into a hazard on the par-5 12th hole, and then he hit his fourth shot into a bunker en route to a double-bogey that pushed Quillinan’s advantage to 5-up. Owens conceded the match on the 14th hole when Quillinan’s approach shot landed only four feet from the hole. Owens missed the green short, and pitched his next shot past the hole.

“It was a tough day to play,” said Quillinan, who will attend Florida Atlantic next year. “The wind was swirling everywhere. It feels good to win a tournament like this, though. I was fortunate, because I went down south over the winter to see my dad, who lives down there half the year now. I had two weeks off in March, and I played quite a bit of golf. It kept me sharp.”

Owens, who ousted qualifying medalist and former champion John Vaccaro of Wolferts Roost Country Club, 1-up, on the 19th hole, in the semifinals, said the conditions were difficult.

“That’s probably the toughest conditions I’ve played in a very long time,” he said. “I played well for most of the tournament, including the morning round, but I kind of ran out of gas. This is as far as I’ve ever made it in this tournament. I just wish I gave Steve a better fight. It was pretty ugly out there.”

Quillinan ousted Mike Wheeler of Shaker Ridge Country Club, 1-up, in the semifinals.

In the senior division final, John Donovan of Rolling Hills at Antlers defeated Chuck Connolly of Hiland Golf Club, 1-up, on the 19th hole. Connolly defeated Jim Gardy of Town of Colonie, 4-and-2, and Donovan bested Jack Stopera of Shaker Ridge Country Club, 3-and-2, in the semifinals.

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