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Record round carries Kirby

September 19, 2017
By LOU REUTER - Senior Sports Writer (lreuter@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - On very rare occasions, good golfers can have one of those memorable rounds where practically everything goes right.

Josh Kirby had a day like that over the weekend in the 53rd annual Craig Wood-Ray Randall golf tournament. Kirby started off the two-day tournament Saturday by setting a course record 62, and all he had to do Sunday was put his game into cruise control to fire an even-par 72 Sunday to capture his second Craig Wood championship in four attempts.

After watching Kirby, of Kahnawake, Quebec, start off the tournament, by breaking a record that was first established in 1999 by Larry Barry, all the rest of the field could really do was play for second place. Kirby finished with a 36-hole total of 134, which was 11 strokes ahead of runner-up John Hickey, who carded rounds of 74 and 71 for a 145 total.

Article Photos

Josh Kirby fires an approach shot during Sunday’s final round in the 53rd annual Craig Wood-Ray Randall golf tournament.
(News photo — Lou Reuter)

"Yesterday was magic," said Kirby describing his round Saturday. "I played out of my body. It was unbelievable. A 62, a new course record. I was shaking all day. Just to come in with a par on the last hole and shoot a 62 was amazing.

"Everything was clicking; my drives, my second shots. I hit every green except the last hole. The putting was just on. I was getting crazy putts. On the 16th, my putt went all the way around the hole, stopped, and just fell in. Right then and there, I knew it was a special day."

Kirby explained that his plan heading into the week was to play three rounds of golf, including Friday's practice rounds, with scores around 67. And under ideal conditions, he reached that mark early on, which made the final 18 holes easy and stress-free.

"The goal was go 10 under," he said following Sunday's final round. "I ended up shooting a 66 in the practice round and then I ended up with a 62 Saturday, so right there I was already at my mark. Today, I just shot even par, that's what I wanted. Just to get in the clubhouse at even par, I'd take that."

Hickey, a 23-year-old former high school golf standout at AuSable Valley, moved up into second place by firing a 1-under par 71 on Sunday.

"This was the first time in this tournament," Hickey said. "I wanted to play last year but I broke my elbow playing basketball in my driveway. I started today (Sunday) 12 shots back, and to make that up is virtually impossible. I started today tied for fourth and I was just trying to climb up into second or third. No one was going to catch Josh no matter what they did.

"I hit the ball pretty well," added Kirby, who will be the assistant pro at the AuSable Club beginning next year. "I made some silly bogeys today, but other than that I had a good day. Second place feels pretty good honestly. I play out here all the time with the dew sweepers. With the way the greens are rolling, they're pretty quick, I'll take it."

Heath LaTour, who won the Craig Wood title in 2015, finished third with a 146 total that included a 2-under par 70 on Saturday. Nick Politi, another former tournament winner, placed fourth with a 149 total.

A year ago, Quebec's Greg Wilson won the Craig Wood tournament by defeating LaTour in a playoff. This time around, Wilson opted to compete in the Ray Randall senior division. Back surgery earlier this year has limited Wilson's time on the course this summer, but he was solid enough over the weekend to finish on top. Wilson got off to a solid start Saturday with a 3-under par 69 and clinched the victory Sunday by shooting a 73 over the final 18 holes.

"I won the regular title last year, and I'm probably the first guy to go back-to-back with wins in regular and senior," Wilson said. "I probably should have played in the regular division to try to defend my title but because of my back surgery I just don't want to play with the kids. They hit it so far. Just let them go play their division.

"I had a 71 in my practice round and didn't hit one practice shot," he continued. "I said 'I'm going to come out Saturday and do the same thing - not hit any practice balls. It keeps me from over swinging. That was my key to victory. I saved my energy."

On Sunday, Wilson played with last year's senior champion and fellow Canadian Mickey Batten and Brad Griffin of Lake Placid. Griffin wound up taking second in the Ray Randall gross division while Batten won the net title.

"Mickey is a legend here, and I feel bad about dethroning Mickey because he's one of my best friends, but this feels spectacular," Wilson said. "I've only played about 18 games this year. I had back surgery, elbow surgery, working, traveling - only playing once a week. I hit the ball solid for two-and-a-half days. Back nine today wasn't good but I didn't need it thank God."

From the outset of the Craig Wood-Ray Randall tournament, Lucille Randall has always been present at the event to greet the golfers and help hand out awards. Now a resident at Uihlein in Lake Placid, Randall was unable to attend the tournament for the first time since its inception. However, Lucille Randall, who was married to Ray Randall and was a good friend of the legendary Craig Wood, was honored at the post tournament awards ceremony. She'll turn 103 years old next month.

More than 100 golfers participated in the tournament this year.

 
 

 

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