MASSENA As the final threesome of the Section 10 Golf Championships medalist competition began its back nine at the Massena Golf and Country Club on Saturday, a chilly zephyr off the St. Lawrence River turned in a gusting wind with a frigid bite.
But Massena junior Hunter Francis, who took second in last years championship, was feeling some heat.
Francis and the defending champion Devin Delisle of Brushton-Moira shared the first-day lead at 79. But on the front nine the complexion in the threesome changed.
Delisle, a sophomore, encountered extreme putting problems slipping to a 43 while Francis posted a 40 and OFA senior Brandon Mullin, who shot a 42 on Friday, sank a series of long putts, including a 50-footer, in shooting a 39.
Mullin cut the difference to one with a par on the 11th hole while Francis and Delisle bogeyed.
Then came, the par three 12th hole, which became the fulcrum for the final swing of the tournament. Francis jarred an 18-foot par saver while Mullin bogeyed in the first of a series of three-putts in a slide to a back-nine 43 and a fourth place finish at 82-82-164.
Francis birdied the 13th and 15th holes, posted a back nine 36, and secured the title with a five-stroke margin (79-76-155) despite a four-putt double bogey on the par three 17th hole.
Hunter Francis knows his way around the golf course very well, Massena coach Joe Mittiga said. He has a great attitude and he played a ton of golf this summer. Coming close last year really motivated him.
Recalling the momentum shifting putt on the 12th hole, Francis said, I knew Brandon was within one stroke of me so I had to make the putt. I couldnt let him get ahead of me. I just thought about playing my game, staying patient and waiting for the putts to fall.
The putts never fell for Delisle until it was too late to make a charge. He played two over par over the last seven holes for a back nine 38 with birdie on 15 and took second at 79-81-160. But he was frustrated by a series of agonizing close misses until sinking a 20-foot par putt on the 18th hole.
One golfer who did make a charge was OFA junior Conor Hannan who birdied the first six holes of the back nine and finished with a 39-38-77 and a third-place finish at 84-77-161.
Hannan joined Mullin on the state tournament team and OFA Coach Joe Lynch said it capped a great weekend for the Blue Devils, who won the team title on Friday,
We are very happy to have two of our guys going to states, Lynch said.
Rounding out the nine-man Section 10 state tournament entry are: Evan Hanna of Malone (87-82-169); Madrid-Waddingtons Jeff Mott, who enjoyed an eight-stroke improvement on Saturday, fashioning a 91-83-174; Tupper Lakes Riley Amell (90-84-174); Salmon Rivers T.J. Roundpoint (89-87-176); and Potsdams Konnor Bigwarfe (91-87-178). Bigwarfe won a one-hole playoff for the ninth spot over teammate Dan Stone (88-90-178), the teams first alternate.
OFAs Dylan Binion (86-93-179) is the second alternate.