TUPPER LAKE - Doug Hart took top honors in the first flight and California's Kerry Johnston won the pro division in the Tupper Lake Open golf tournament held Saturday and Sunday at the Tupper Lake Country Club.
Hart, a Johnstown police officer, had to win on an extra hole after he finished tied for first with a pair of talented young Tupper Lakers playing on their home course. After 36 holes, Hart was deadlocked with Scott Delair and Zach Meade, both 2010 Tupper Lake High School graduates. The three golfers all finished with 1-under par 143s.
Hart took the victory with a birdie on the first playoff hole while Delair and Meade both recorded pars.
Playing on his home course, Scott Delair watches his tee shot on the 17th hole during Sunday’s second round of the Tupper Lake Open golf tournament. It marked the second straight year that the 2010 graduate of Tupper Lake High School finished tied for first place after 36 holes only to fall during a playoff.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Meanwhile in the pro division, Johnston, a long-time competitor in the tournament, fired 10 birdies over the course of two days to finish with a 6-under par total 138 and a 3-stroke victory.
"I've been here a number of times, but this is my first time winning the tournament," Hart said. "I played with Zach on Saturday and Scott Sunday, and I really enjoyed myself. They're great guys, and I really enjoyed playing golf with them.
"For me, it was just trying to grind out pars," Hart continued. "I wasn't really concerned about what the other guys were doing. When you get out of position, you can get in trouble in a hurry on this course. I just played a shot at a time and let things fall into place."
It marked the second year in a row that Delair fell in a playoff for first place in tournament's top amateur flight. He had an opportunity to win in regulation but was unable to drain a short birdie putt on the next-to-last hole. Instead of sinking a tricky downhill putt on the 17th, Delair had to settle for a par and then notched another par on the final hole to wind up in a three-way tie.
Although he couldn't claim the win in a playoff, Delair said he was still pleased with his performance over the two-day event. He fired a 1-under par 71 Saturday to take sole possession of first place and then followed with an even-par 72 in the final round. Meade finished with a 73 in the opening round and followed with a 70 Sunday, which was the low amateur round of the day. Meade actually finished in second place after a match of scorecards determined the runner-up and third-place player.
"I forced a playoff last year, too," Delair said. "I didn't win, but I'm not really disappointed. I played pretty well. I know that I played well enough to have a chance. The putt I missed on 17 was a pretty tough one."
Meade gave himself a chance Sunday by stringing together three birdies during the middle of his round, but finished with seven pars in a row in a very competitive field.
"I caught fire there for awhile," Meade said. "Winning would have been nice, but I still had a blast. I played pretty good golf this weekend."
Johnston, who hails from Indio, Calif. held a two-shot lead heading into Sunday's final round, then secured the win by recording four birdies over the final nine holes. But he had to rebound from a three-putt bogey on the par-5 11th hole, and got the job done with birdies on two of the next three holes.
"I really didn't hit the ball that well, but I know how to play," Johnston said. "I just kept my head on my shoulders. It doesn't matter what tournament you are playing in. These days, everybody out there is a good player. It doesn't matter if you need the money or you don't, the pressure is always there. We are all competitive and we all want to win."
Johnston, who collected $2,000 for the victory, first appeared in the Tupper Lake Open in 1980 and normally makes the tournament a part of his three- to four-month playing schedule each summer during a swing through the Northeast. Other recent stops for Johnston have included tournaments in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, with his next tournament coming in early September in Cooperstown.
"I've made it here just about every year," Johnston said. "Honestly, I really don't need the money. I just love the people, the course and the competitiveness this tournament offers. I'm hoping to get back here next year. After all, I'll have a title to defend."
Coming off his first win as a pro a week ago, Kevin Roy of Syracuse finished runner-up with a 141, and Don Robertson of Texas finished third with a 142. Playing for the first time as the head pro at Tupper Lake, Clarence Bell carded rounds of 78 and 72 to finish with a 150 total.
The pro field featured 27 players from across the nation.
Dave Kokes captured the win in the second flight with rounds of 74 and 77 and a 151 total. Tom Welch and David Rackmyre topped the third-flight field, both turning in 174 totals.
Two players also recorded a hole-in-one during the tournament. Steve Chittester, of Kane, Pa., notched the first ace of his career on the 18th hole using a 7-iron. Meanwhile, pro Tom Borden of Keene, N.H., scored his third hole-in-one by sinking his tee shot on the 12th hole.