Matt Horton’s steady short game edged Dan Russo’s consistent long game to win the 71st Troy Invitational Sunday at the Country Club of Troy.
Horton, a 23-year-old member of the host club, sank a 24-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole to clip the 56-year-old Hagaman native and former Troy Invy champ.
Horton, who has had several close calls in the final round of the Troy Invy in recent years, shot a six-over-par 77 in the final round to finish with an eight-over-par 221 in regulation play. Russo, who now plays out of Schuyler Meadows after several decades at Rolling Hills at Antlers, closed with a final-round 75.
Horton, a College of Saint Rose graduate, needed to get up-and-down for par on the final hole just to get into the playoff, while Russo neatly two-putted for par from 18 feet.
On the first extra hole, the 387-yard opening hole, both players hit perfect drives, leaving them wedges to the green. Horton missed the green to the left, but pitched up to about a foot and tapped in for another up-and-down par. Russo’s 20-footer for birdie came up just short.
Play shifted to the 369-yard 17th hole for the second playoff hole. Both players missed the fairway, with Horton on the right and Russo near a hill in the high grass on the left. Both players reached the green in regulation, but Russo was about eight feet shorter, meaning Horton got to putt first.
“I knew I didn’t want to leave my putt short,” said Horton. “I thought it was an advantage to putting first.”
Neither player hit the ball very well all day. “It was kind of ugly out there. I hit only four greens all day, but my short game was great,” Horton said. “I haven’t been playing much since I got my new job as a financial advisor. This was my first tournament round since last year’s Invitational.”
Despite his solid finish, the long-hitting Russo was frustrated with all aspects of his game.
“This [the tournament] should have been over a long time ago,” he said. “I can’t get a simple sand wedge on the green. And I missed two two-footers. I lost my confidence, and I haven’t played well this year. It’s just like in bowling when you can’t make a 10-pin. You end up leaving six 10-pins. Or it’s like if you’re [former Yankees second baseman] Chuck Knobloch in baseball. The ball always seems to find you when you have no confidence.”
x-Matt Horton 75-221; Dan Russo 77-221; Matt Clarke 74-223; Dave Mooradian 70-225; Mark Sabatino 78-225; Chad Stofer 76-226; Johnathan Clark 75-227; Mike Wheeler 75-229; Alex Bringsjord 78-230; E.J. Cardish 76-231; Jim Bologna 83-232; Patrick Murphy 73-232; Eric Snow 74-234; Jon-Michael Socaris 234; Jim Welch 84-240; John Downey 81-242; Justin Deitz 81-242; Ben Gardenier 83-247; Tyler Penn 83-247; Kevin Cassidy 77-248; Tony DiNova 82-254; Steve Kirchner 88-260; Carter Flanigan85-267; Bryan O’Connell 91-270; Nathan Hoffman 83-270; Joe Quillinan Jr. NC; Nick Ziccardi NC; Steve Quillinan Jr. NC.