Stone Harbor’s Pete Barron, III finds redemption in Mid.-Am. victory
KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa.–Mother Nature delayed, but didn’t damper one of the most exhilarating Middle-Amateur Championship finishes in history. Pete Barron, III, of Stone Harbor Golf Club emerged from a frantic race and in the process atoned for a playoff loss in last year’s event with a final-hole birdie to seal his first Major victory. Barron rolled in a 10-foot putt on No. 18 (par 5, 452 yards) to post a 5-under 137 and edge Chris Ault of Yardley Country Club by a stroke on Thursday at Gulph Mills Golf Club (par 71, 6,536 yards) for the 31st Middle-Amateur Championship presented by Callaway Golf. Barron finished the final two holes after a 3:05 weather delay.
“Absolutely,” said Barron when asked if the triumph was a point of redemption. “Last year, I lost in a playoff to a great player in Michael McDermott. It feels great to finally win something big. I’ve been knocking on the door for awhile.”
Barron didn’t politely knock for his Mid.-Am trophy. He confidently walked through the championship entrance with clutch shot making.
Knowing he needed birdie on No. 18 to win, Barron lifted a 9-iron from 142 yards. It landed 30 feet behind the hole and spun back.
A superb answer considering he was forced to chip out after a wayward drive landed behind a tree. That came on the heels of a bogey, the number of choice on the testy No. 17 (par 3, 211 yards).
“I told myself to make an aggressive swing that will get to the back of the green and spin back,” said Barron, 38, of Mays Landing, N.J. “I wanted to hit something hard. I read [the putt] to have about two feet of break. It broke a hair more than that and snuck in the right side.
“[I was] relieved. I could breathe. I was just thinking get it to the hole and give it a chance.”
Ault, Barron, Andy Latowski of Philadelphia Cricket Club and Chip Lutz of LedgeRock Golf Club, the first-round leader, sparred for supremacy throughout a rollercoaster back nine.
Lutz turned inward at 6 under and four shots in front of that trio before his putter went cold … and the field warmed up.
Latowski, 35, of Plainsboro, N.J., finished first, leaving a 20-foot eagle putt on No. 18 just short to post a clubhouse best 3 under.
Ault, two groups ahead of Lutz and Barron, and a bit behind Latowksi, was next. The reigning Pennsylvania State Amateur Champion quietly grabbed a share of first at 4 under with a birdie on No. 16 (par 4, 397 yards). Ault lifted a wedge from 70 yards to six feet for his third back-nine red number.
However, a turbulent 17th (par 3, 211 yards) – Ault pulled a 5-iron into the left greenside bunker on a downhill slope and made double bogey – dropped him to 2 under. Ault’s answer to that turmoil was resounding. He knocked a pitching wedge from 147 yards to five feet for eagle. The putt for 3 was never in doubt.
“I was proud of the way I played. I got off to a rough start and battled back into contention. I would have liked to finish at 5 or 6 under but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Pete made an awesome putt to win the tournament. Heck, that’s a tough putt to make on a Thursday afternoon with your buddies,” said Ault, 28, of Yardley, Pa. “I knew I was hoping for something else behind me [after that double bogey]. I didn’t want to be in that position.”
Lutz, 59, of Reading, Pa., appeared in control after a front nine that included four birdies and a bogey. However, Lutz’s putter, which was strong over the first 27 holes, went dry. He missed two short par saves on Nos. 13 (par 4, 432 yards) and 14 (par 3, 187 yards) to fall back to 4 under. Like Barron, he, too, waited through the lengthy delay before completing the last two holes.
Lutz made bogey on No. 17 after hitting his tee ball right. He just missed a 10-foot par saver. Putting before Barron on No. 18, the four-time reigning Senior Player of the Year stood stunned as his birdie try to tie Ault rolled right of the cup.
Barron appeared to eliminate himself early in the day after a double bogey-bogey stretch on Nos. 6 (par 3, 173 yards) and 7 (par 5, 495 yards). He instead responded with five birdies over his last 10 holes.
His final two birdies sandwiched the No. 17 bogey. Barron dropped a sand wedge from 107 yards to 10 feet on No. 16 to pull into solo first before his closing hole winning roll.
“I knew I had to go 3 or 4 under on the back to have a chance,” said Barron. “When I went to 17 tee I thought I had a chance [to win]. My thought process was to make nothing worse than bogey on 17 and then there is a getable par 5.”
Or in this case, a championship par 5.
NOTES–Latowski led a group of 11 players from Philadelphia Cricket Club to make the Day One cut … defending champion Michael McDermott of Merion Golf Club carded a final-round, 3-under 68 to finish even for the tournament and in sixth place … Matthew Finger of DuPont Country Club turned in the day’s low round with a 5-under 66. Finger posted a 6-under 30 on the back nine, which included two eagles on the two par 5s, Nos. 12 and 18.
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Barron, III, Stone Harbor Golf Club
Ault, Yardley Country Club
Lutz, LedgeRock Golf Club
Latowski, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Finger, DuPont Country Club
McDermott, Merion Golf Club
Carr, Plymouth Country Club
Osberg, Huntingdon Valley Country Club
Daniels, Applebrook Golf Club
Mandel, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Gaffney, Little Mill Country Club
Sawin, Merion Golf Club
Gelrod, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Hyland, Little Mill Country Club
Semenetz, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Rudershausen, Kennett Square Golf & Country
Seiden, Llanerch Country
Brennan, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Tash, Tavistock Country
Mattare, Saucon Valley Country Club
Savarese, Jr., Philadelphia Cricket Club
Bartholomew, Philadelphia Cricket Club
James, Golden Oaks Golf Club
Kania, Jr., Overbrook Golf Club
Mendez, Fieldstone Golf Club
Czerniakowski, Blue Bell Country Club
Isler, Chester Valley Golf Club
Freeh, Back Creek Golf Club
Samaha, Old York Road Country Club
Miller, Back Creek Golf Club
Smeraglio, Mercer Oaks Golf Course
Lange, Overbrook Golf Club
Bechtold, Fieldstone Golf Club
McLaughlin, Commonwealth National Golf Club
West, Whitford Country Club
Brown, Philadelphia Publinks GA
Irey, Lookaway Golf Club
McFadden, Overbrook Golf Club
Storck, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Cleary, Wilmington Country Club
Reighard, Llanerch Country Club
Lange, Jr., Overbrook Golf Club
Shields, Philadelphia Publinks GA
Liotta, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club
April, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Petrash, IV, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Lavin, Rolling Green Golf Club
Barkley, Huntsville Golf Club
Kershner, Spring Ford Country Club
Moffat, Commonwealth National Golf Club
Petrellis, Blue Bell Country Club
Haag, Makefield Highlands Golf Club
McCool, Saucon Valley Country Club
Robinson, Commonwealth National Golf Club
Smith, Huntingdon Valley Country Club
Mestre, Overbrook Golf Club
Donnelly, Merion Golf Club
Whitman, Berkshire Country Club
Thompson, Overbrook Golf Club
Lawler, Cedarbrook Country Club
Von Borsig, White Manor Country Club
Slonis, Tavistock Country Club
Torpey, Commonwealth National Golf Club
Hyland, Little Mill Country Club
Wallace, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Pruchnik, Downingtown Country Club
McDermott, Llanerch Country Club
Burke, Sea Oaks Golf Club
Roberts, Little Mill Country Club
Coyle, Llanerch Country Club
Fedoryshyn, Concord Country Club
Chet Walsh, Philadelphia Country Club
Meares, Running Deer Golf Club
Gavaghan, Jericho National Golf Club
Marshall, Trenton Country Club
Willcox, Merion Golf Club
Bracy, Rancocas Golf Club
Clifford, Yardley Country Club
Gillespie, Wedgwood Country Club
Cahill, Merion Golf Club
Fisher, Philadelphia Publinks GA
Gillespie, St. Davids Golf Club
Spano, Llanerch Country
Dressel, St. Davids Golf Club
Garis, North Hills Country Club
Walsh, Overbrook Golf Club
Arison, Applebrook Golf
Olinick, Philadelphia Publinks
Cooper, North Hills Country Club
DiCinti, Old York CC at Chesterfield
Rose, Talamore Country Club
Reedman, Makefield Highlands Golf Club