Booska-Finley survive scare in 4-Ball
GREENFIELD — It was by no means their best performance, but it was just enough to advance.
Defending champions and top-seeded Dennis Booska and KC Finley of the host club survived a rough front nine — in which they fell 3-down — to rally for a 1-up victory over Mark Vincelette and Steve Lefave in first-round match play action in the Championship Division of the 68th Invitational Four-Ball Tournament on a picture-perfect Friday afternoon at the Country Club of Greenfield.
Vincelette and Lefave, who play out of Tekoa Country Club in Westfield, took the initial lead when Lefave reached the par-5 sixth in two, then two-putted from 30 feet.
They upped the lead to two with a par on the short par-5 eighth when Booska and Finley missed their par chances, then they birdied the par-4 ninth to grab the 3-up lead.
Even though Vincelette and Lefave were able to save par on No. 10, Finley noted that the momentum seemed to start shifting (“we were starting to play a little more connsistent”), and that became increasingly evident when Booska and Finley won the 11th with a par to cut the deficit to two.
After halving the next three holes — two with birdies — Booska and Finley won 15 and 16 to pull even, and both Finley (10 feet) and Vincelette (eight feet) missed makeable birdie putts on 17, setting up the showdown on 18.
Lefave hit his short approach from the middle of the fairway to 12 feet behind the flag. Finley, from approximately 60 yards, hit a stellar knockdown wedge that checked and drifted inside of two feet below the hole.
With Vincelette out of the hole and Booska lying three after a chip, Lefave hit a solid putt that seemed destined for the bottom of the cup, but it suddenly turned left and lipped out. Vincelette and Lefave then conceded Finley’s short birdie putt and the match.
“We didn’t play our best, but I don’t think they did either,” said Finley. “We were fortunate to advance.”
“We were lucky to win, to be quite honest,” added Booska, a five-time champion of the event.
Booska and Finley go right back to work this morning at 7:54 when they face Greenfield native Paul DeNofrio and Ron Laverdiere of Crumpin-Fox Club in Bernardston. DeNofrio and Laverdiere, the ninth seeds, battled through a tough match against No. 8 seeds Cody Booska and Troy Miller before winning, 2-up.
Also in the upper half of the bracket, fifth seeds Max Wolanske and Sam Wolanske continued their solid play and bested host club duo and 12th seeds Matt Eaton and Jared Ewart, 3 and 2, to advance to a 7:45 quarterfinal against 13th seeds Pat McGuire and Aaron Wheeler, who held on to beat fourth seed Gary Hunt and Ken Hunt, 1-up.
In the lower half of the draw, qualifying medalists and second seeds Nate Burdick-Dave Kennedy got off to a hot start and went on to a 5 and 4 victory over 15th seeds Mark Cady and Paul Vincelette. Burdick and Kennedy won five of the first seven holes with birdies to take a 5-up lead at the turn, gave one back on 10 but continued to play steady and closed it out with Burdick’s four-foot birdie putt on No. 14.
Burdick and Kennedy will now face fellow host club members and 10th seeds Brodie Conant and Scott Cote, who were able to knock off seventh seeds Chris McElligott and Bob Rainville, 3 and 2. Their match will start at 7:36.
Also, 2011 champions Chris Austin and Andy Lesenski won their fifth consecutive Championship Division match as partners with a 4 and 3 victory over 14th seeds Justin McCloud and Kevin Ward. Austin and Lesenski, the third seeds, will go up against the Greenfield duo of Jason Kelton and Jamie Crocker, who pulled off an impressive win with a 2-up victory over five-time champions and 11th seeds Tom Bergeron and Gary Burt. That match starts at 7:27.
The four winners of those matches will return to the first tee at 2:30 and 2:39, respectively, for the semifinals. The two remaining tandems will meet Sunday at 1:09 p.m. for the championship.