Hobika Wins 32nd N.Y.S Men's Mid-Amateur Championship at Wolferts Roost Country Club
ALBANY, N.Y. -- On a crisp fall afternoon at Wolferts Roost Country Club, Luke Hobika (Cavalry Club) claimed the title of 32nd New York State Men’s Mid-Amateur Champion. Hobika, now a two-time titleholder (first title in 1998 at Yahnundasis), carded a final round 1-over 71 which propelled him two strokes ahead of the competition at 212 (69-72-71).
A trio of players shared runner-up honors. Matt Clarke (NYSGA eClub – Capital District), Adam Condello (Locust Hill CC) and Tim Spitz (Monroe GC) all finished the 54-hole tournament at 4-over 214.
Defending champion Jamie Miller (Wanakah CC) played in the final group with Hobika and Spitz after finishing the second round one stroke off the lead.
Through thirteen holes today, Miller and Hobika were tied for the lead at 4-over. On the par-5 14th, Miller dunked his second shot into the pond that guarded the green’s front placed hole location. He ended up with a bogey. Hobika stuck his third shot two and a half feet and tapped it in for birdie, which began his march to victory.
On the par-3 15th, Hobika landed his shot about 45 feet to the right of the flag. “I was not going left, I was not going to put myself under duress,” he insisted. His birdie putt slowly glided across what seemed to be a perfect line, but clipped the edge of the hole and rolled about a foot past. On the following hole, he knocked down a 15-footer for birdie to widen the gap. At this point, Miller had dropped to 6-over after a few detrimental misses including a tee shot on 15 that flew the green and landed out of bounds. Miller finished the tournament in 6th place at 6-over 216.
When discussing his round Hobika confessed the par-4 17th was the “bad hole” for him. He made par-double-par on the doglegged uphill hole throughout the weekend. Today, he said to himself “this hole owes you one” as he knocked down a tough 6-footer to essentially seal the deal.
“I got the feeling on the upper holes that I was pretty much clear,” Hobika noted. “I only found out on the 18th when I hit the ball on the green,” he said about his two-stroke lead.
The 47-year-old champion from Syracuse has steadily progressed in the Mid-Am the past few years. In 2013, he finished in 5th at Onondaga G&CC and 3rd at Teugega CC last year. “This course, I can hang with everybody because of the shortness and the way the greens are. I’m a good lag putter and I’m a good short distance putter.”
Spitz showed too little too late today. Through 14 holes, he only carded pars and bogeys. On 15, he showed some life with a nice mid-range birdie putt. On 17, he dropped another sleek birdie. Spitz won the Mid-Amateur in 2012 at Midvale CC. After today, he now has two runner up finishes; the other came at Onondaga G&CC in 2013.
Condello, who was playing in the second to last group, made the turn at even par and was tied for the lead with Hobika for a couple holes on the backside. He hit his approach shot to two feet on the 17th for an easy birdie, moving 2-strokes behind the leader, but it was only enough for runner-up with rounds of 75-68-71. In his three NYSGA championship appearances, Condello has finished runner-up each time including the last two Men’s Mid-Amateurs and this year’s Men’s Amateur at Kaluyhat Golf Club.
Matt Clarke, who won the Mid-Am title in 2005 at Country Club of Rochester, posted 1-under 69 today. He steadily improved throughout the weekend with rounds of 75-70-69.
Kevin VandenBerg (Bellevue CC) shot today’s low of 68 on the tough final day layout. His 215 total just missed the three-way tie for second, but was still good enough for an exemption into next year’s Men’s Amateur and Mid-Amateur.
The top-20 finishers will be exempt from qualifying for the 2016 N.Y.S. Men's Mid-Amateur Championship and the top-10 will be exempt into the 2016 N.Y.S. Men’s Amateur to be held at Mohawk Golf Club.
Dan Thompson, NYSGA Intern