Horn, Griffin claim Craig Wood Invitational titles

Lake Placid's Brad Griffin tees off on the fifth hole during the second round of the Craig Wood-Ray Randall Invitational tournament on Sunday. News photo — Lou Reuter

LAKE PLACID — Ky Horn had been knocking on the door a few times when it came to competing for a title in the annual Craig Wood-Ray Randall golf tournament.

After coming up short in a playoff for first place a year ago, the resident of Akwesasne can finally cross winning another golf tournament off his to-do list. Over the weekend, Horn cruised to a 10-shot victory at Craig Wood, winning the open division with a two-day, 36-hole 146 total. He owned a two-stroke lead over a handful of players after shooting a 75 in Saturday’s opening round and then came through big-time over the last 18 holes, firing a 71, which was the only round below par during the tournament.

“I feel really happy. It’s actually a relief because I came close a few times,” Horn said. “Last year I lost it when I missed a couple of short putts — two 5-footers — in the playoff. I came back this year and played really well.”

A mix of weather — sun, wind and cold — made conditions somewhat tricky this year, and fast greens added another challenge. Horn said he all but nailed down the victory on Craig Wood’s par-4 fifth hole Sunday when he drained a 50-foot putt from the fringe to save par. Golfers began play on the back during the second round, so after Horn sank that long putt, he only had four holes to go and a big cushion.

“Usually my game is hitting a lot of greens and hitting my driver really well,” Horn said. “Normally, I’m not a great putter, but today I putted well, and these greens were tough. I didn’t three-putt at all. I hit that long one straight in the middle, and when it went in, I knew it was my day.”

Ky Horn watches his tee shot fly on the par-5, sixth hole at Craig Wood Sunday. Horn won the two-day tournament with a 146 total. News photo — Lou Reuter

Saranac Lake’s Dustin Fischer finished runner-up with rounds of 79 and 77 and a 156 total.

Brad Griffin successfully defended his title in the senior Ray Randall division with a 161 total. Competing as a senior for the first time, Lake Placid’s Donny Mortensen finished second with a 164 total.

Cody Ecret took first place in the open division net contest with a 142. Nick Fitzsimons placed second net with a 147. John Davie claimed the senior net crown with a 147, and John “Curly” Rand was runner-up with a 148.

Normally the Craig Wood tournament draws up to 120 golfers, but border restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic cut this year’s field by more than half. Traditionally, dozens of players from Canada travel to Lake Placid for the event each September, and their presence was certainly missed in 2020.

Despite the smaller turnout, Horn said he still had to play well, and his first victory on the course was definitely special.

Don Mortensen of Lake Placid tees off on the par-4, fifth hole at Craig Wood during the second round of tournament action on Sunday, Sept. 20 in Lake Placid. News photo — Lou Reuter

“Last year’s winner was out there, there were some other past champions, some younger guys who are good golfers playing; it wasn’t easy winning this,” Horn said. “I think if it was a full field, I still would have been in the hunt, even with that 75 on Saturday. Conditions were tough. If you want to win tournaments like this, you have to perform and play well. I was able to do that and it feels good.”

This year the Craig Wood Invitational gave a special tribute to Tommy Haefner, a Rochester area golfer who competed in the event more than 50 times and passed away last month.