Earl Winchester ran out of magic at the wrong time Thursday.
The 65-year-old former member of the host club battled back from a double-bogey on the 14th hole with some excellent short-game prowess, but his pulled tee shot on the first playoff hole helped long-hitting Frank Broderick of Crag Burn win the 57th annual New York State Amateur Championship at Normanside Country Club.
Broderick, who finished with an even-par 70 for a three-day total of 217, boomed a huge drive on the first extra hole, leaving him less than 100 yards to the pin. He pitched on to about 10 feet and two-putted for par. Winchester (73-217) was partially blocked by a tree in the left rough. His approach shot hit a tree branch and landed short of the green by more than 20 feet. Instead of chipping, Winchester decided to use his putter, and he came up well short. His par putt from about 10 feet just missed.
“I knew everybody was close,” said Broderick, who like Winchester also had some trouble late in his round when he hit an errant tee shot on the 18th hole and lost his ball. “I thought when I lost my ball on 18, it was over. I didn’t know I was tied until someone told me. I kept thinking on the back nine that a bogey would put anyone out of the tournament, because it was so close.”
Broderick, who turned 63 on the first day of the tournament on Tuesday, was an elite amateur player for many years. He competed in the U.S. Amateur and the British Am-ateur during his 40s. But he stopped playing in his 50s because he lost his passion for the game.
Fortunately for him, some friends convinced him to join Crag Burn, and he became serious about golf again.
“I’m kind of compulsive, so if I was going to do something, I wanted to do it well,” he said.
At age 52, Broderick won the Buffalo District Championship, and that was his top career accomplishment, until Thursday.
“This is my biggest tournament. It’s a real treat,” he said.
When Winchester unexpectedly duffed back-to-back pitch shots on the par-5 14th hole en route to a double-bogey, it appeared his hopes for a State Senior Amateur crown were lost. He muttered the words “what a collapse” before he managed a two-putt from almost 40 feet.
But the six-time Normanside CC club champion regained his composure with a solid par on the 15th hole and an outstanding up-and-down par on the 16th hole after short-siding himself on the bank of a bunker.
Winchester then hit a perfect cut show to within 21⁄2 feet on the uphill par-3 17th hole, and when he drained the birdie putt, he regained a share of the lead. Winchester then two-putted from 45 feet for a par that gave him a spot in the playoff.
Meanwhile, Broderick’s birdie on the 17th hole gave him a two-shot lead over a packed group behind him. He was six-over-par at the time. But he hit an errant tee shot on the dogleg-left 18th hole, lost his ball, and had to re-tee. His provisional tee shot was perfect, leaving him about 100 yards left to the hole. His approach shot landed about 12 feet away, and he made what turned out to be a crucial bogey to give him a spot in the playoff.
“I thought my up-and-down on 16 was a key shot,” said Winchester. “But I really liked my shot on No. 17. I think the 16th hole and the 18th hole owed me something from the last time I was in contention.”
That was 10 years ago, when Winchester was, again, in the lead group in the State Senior Amateur at Normanside but went three-over-par over the final three holes.
“I’m very happy with the way I played today,” he said. “Like I said before, I’m playing the best golf that I’ve ever played this year. To me, winning the Super Senior [for players 65 and older] and also finishing second overall is fantastic.”
Former local player Doug Vergith (74-219), who lives on Long Island, was tied with Winchester for the lead on the final hole, but he hit his approach shot out of bounds on the service road to the right of the green and finished with a double-bogey. He ended up tied for fourth.
“I had been hooking that club, and I was guarding against the hook when I made that shot,” said Vergith who, like Winchester and Broderick, birdied the 17th hole. “I wasn’t nervous. I was pretty calm all day.”
Leaders — x-Frank Broderick (Crag Burn GC) 70-217, Earl Winchester (Shaker Ridge CC) 73-217, Dean Scott (Attica GC) 72-218, Frank Plata (Cazenovia CC) 71-218, Doug Vergith (St. George’s G&CC) 74-219, Steve Nosonowitz (McCann GC) 73-219, Dale Dirk (Blue Heron Hills GC) 72-220, Steven Stuetzle (McCann GC) 72-221, Chuck Connolly (Kingswood GC) 73-221, Randy Young (Bellevue CC) 73-221.
Other top local players — Dave Champagne (Catskill GC) 77-225, Bill Paulsen Jr. (Eagle Crest GC) 78-226, Mike Carroll (Mohawk GC) 77-227, Paul Hart (Pinehaven CC) 77-228, Kevin Broderick (Orchard Creek GC) 77-228, Paul Lundberg (Shaker Ridge CC) 77-228, Bill Lebeau (Van Schaick Island CC) 75-229, Patrick Seeleye (Hiland GC) 79-230, John Donovan (Schenectady Municipal GC) 78-231, Bob Cooper (Orchard Creek GC) 77-231, Ralph Maru (Van Patten GC) 77-231, James Blendell (Normanside CC) 77-234, Bill Wasserbach (Wolferts Roost CC) 76-234, Bill Kent (Town of Colonie) 77-236, John Reagan (Western Turnpike GC) 80-237, Mike Bayus (Orchard Creek GC) 85-239, Robert Norton (Shaker Ridge CC) 84-240.
x-Won playoff on 1st extra hole.