LAKE PLACID - In one of the most challenging Craig Wood/Ray Randall Invitational Golf Tournaments in the event's 47-year history, Nick Politi claimed a one-shot victory last weekend at the par-72 layout in Lake Placid.
Politi, who played for the St. Lawrence University golf team from 2000 to 2004, has finished near the top of the leaderboard in a number of area tournaments this summer and broke through with a victory Sunday. The Lake Placid native fired an 80 under extremely windy, difficult conditions to stand two shots back after Saturday's first round and followed with a one-over par 73 Sunday to finish with a winning 153 total.
Defending Craig Wood champion Doug Hart of Johnstown, a perennial contender for the title in the tournament, was runner-up with rounds of 78 and 76.
Lou Reuter/Lake Placid News
Nick Politi watches his putt during last week’s Craig Wood/Ray Randall Invitational Golf Tournament in Lake Placid.
"It feels good to finally be on top," said Politi, who placed second earlier this summer in the Whiteface Open tournament and also the club championship event at the Whiteface Club, and also finished runner-up in May at the prestigious Masters North Tournament in Malone. "I've always had confidence in my game, and my driver has been on fire this year. I just figured if I stuck with it, I was going to get a win.
"The conditions were very tough on Saturday in 35 mph winds. You just had to survive out there. It was challenging," Politi added. "I was only two shots back after the first day, so I knew I had a chance on Sunday. I had a pretty good day. My short game is what got me the win. I had 29 putts, that's pretty close to what the PGA pros do."
As Saturday wore on, the weather got worse as wind-driven rains moved in over the course and halted play. Some of the golfers in the 130-player finished their opening rounds while others were forced to complete their first round Sunday and then follow it up with 18 more holes. Politi was among the golfers who were able to get off the course Saturday before play was washed out.
"I finished just before the rain came," Politi said. "On Saturday, it was nearly impossible to hit the greens in regulation. I just tried to keep the ball low out of the wind, get close to the green and hope to get up and down for pars. But Sunday, that was perfect. I was a great day to be on the course."
Politi and Hart were among a handful of golfers who were in the hunt after Saturday's treacherous opening round. Hart, along with Lake Placid's Don Mortensen and Jim Toomey, were all tied for the lead with 78s heading into Sunday. But in the final round, Politi came through with the low score of the day to clinch the win.
There was a third place tie between Tim Batt and Kevin Nolan, who both appeared out of contention after shooting 84s on Saturday but made the climb Sunday with 74s and totals of 158. Mortensen and Brad Griffin tied for fifth with 159 totals.
Quebec's Mickey Batton, who has made more than 30 appearances in the tournament, captured first in the senior Ray Randall division with rounds of 83 and 77, Lake Placid's John Rosenthall captured second place with a 167 total, and Roby Politi finished third with rounds of 86 and 82 and 168 total.
Craig Wood professional Jim Wasson said it was almost miraculous that the they were able to complete the tournament this year due to Saturday's intense weather. He credited course's grounds crew for making sure that happened.
"The course crew went above and beyond to get out Sunday morning to get it playable," Wasson said. "They were out there before sunrise fixing cart paths and bunkers. This is the first time in my memory that we had golfers finishing the first round on Sunday. It was more than half the field. Our superintendent Lynn (Wilson) has been here 40 years and said we've never gone to the second day to finish the first. It was a true test to get it done."