August 25, 2013

Golf: Warren stays hot; Greenleaf collects his biggest win

By Tom Chard tchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Two golfers who had big wins last week were Shawn Warren and Matt Greenleaf, both of Portland.

Warren made it back-to-back victories in Rhode Island. The 28-year-old pro, easily the hottest player in New England, captured the New England PGA Championship after winning the Rhode Island Open the week before.

Warren collected $14,000 for his win. That will help him financially in his plans to go to the first stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School in October in Florida. Warren, a former Windham High and Marshall University golfer, has a healthy lead in the points race for New England PGA Player of the Year. One of the perks of his NEPGA win is entry into next year's PGA Professional National Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Other Maine pros heading to the national championship will be Jeff Seavey of Samoset Resort, John Hickson of Dick's Sporting Goods in Topsham, and Mike Dugas of J.W. Parks Golf Course in Pittsfield.

Seavey finished fourth at the NEPGA Championship. Hickson was sixth, while Dugas tied for 15th. Warren won the tournament by a shot over Ed Kirby and Robby Bruns. Warren and Kirby, a veteran club pro from Rhode Island, have developed a good rivalry this season.

"We play different games," said Warren. "But we seem to be together at the end."

Greenleaf, 31, who plays out of Sable Oaks Country Club in South Portland, won five matches over three days to take the Maine State Golf Association's Match Play Championship at Fox Ridge Golf Club in Auburn.

Greenleaf beat Joe Walp of Portland 1-up in the final. Walp, a former Deering High golfer, is on the golf team at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., where he will be a sophomore.

En route to the final, Greenleaf beat Jamie Boutin 3 and 1 in the round of 32, Len Cole 3 and 2 in the round of 16, Mike Doran 1-up in the quarterfinals, and Joe Alvarez 2-up in the semifinals. The 32-player field is comprised of the top 16 finishers in the Maine Amateur and the next 16 based on points accumulated through various MSGA tournaments.

"I played really well," said Greenleaf, who played at Yarmouth High and the University of Maine at Farmington. "I played a practice round at the course and knew par was going to be a very good score. My game plan was to hit fairways and greens and make pars. That's how hard the golf course was playing."

Greenleaf made five birdies in the final match against Walp, who responded with two birdies of his own on the back nine. Two holes down after the front nine, Greenleaf birdied 10, 11 and 12 to take a 1-up lead. Walp birdied 13 to even the match. They halved 14 with pars. Walp birdied 15 to regain the lead, but Greenleaf won 17 with a birdie when Walp appeared to have the advantage.

On 18, Greenleaf hit his approach to 10 feet. "It was my best shot of the day," he said. Walp was long on his approach and couldn't get up and down.

Greenleaf, who lost in the final to Ryan Gay in 2011, called it his "biggest win." He said it was a good feeling to win one of the state's majors.

Greenleaf's best finish in the Maine Amateur has been fourth.

Joe Alvarez won the first match play state title in 2010, Gay followed in 2011. John Hayes IV won last year.

According to MSGA statistics, Alvarez has the best record in four match play events at 11-3 with Greenleaf next at 10-3. The next tourney for Greenleaf is the St. John's Valley Open at Aroostook Valley, starting Saturday.

TEE TO GREEN: Alexa Rancourt, 22, formerly of Portland and a recent graduate of Furman University in Greenville, S.C., played in her first pro tournament three weeks ago at the Ohio Women's Open. Rancourt shot rounds of 77 and 71 to tie for 10th and collect a check for $425. Rancourt turned pro in July. She graduated from Furman in May with a degree in philosophy.

Rancourt will play in the first stage of LPGA Qualifying School in Rancho Mirage, Calif., beginning Tuesday.

Rancourt won the Women's Maine State Amateur title in 2008 and 2009. She attended Waynflete School for one year of high school before transferring to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., to concentrate on golf. There, she attended the Pendleton School, a prep school at IMG where she was the valedictorian her senior year.

At Furman, she played in the top five on the golf team. Her website is www.alexarancourt.com. ...

At last week's Southern Maine Seniors tournament at York Golf and Tennis, the father and son combination of Al Noyes and Al Noyes Jr. tied for first place in team low gross, while Al Jr. won overall low gross with a 71 in his tournament debut. Their foursomes included Frank Langlois and Butch Reilly.

John Gerber, tournament director, said it was a first in the 40-year history of Southern Maine Seniors.

"A son playing in his debut wins with his father. Al Sr. was trying to hide how proud he was playing and seeing the young guy win. Al Sr. has a long history of winning senior tournaments." The father was inducted into the Maine Golf Hall of Fame last year. ...

Reese McFarlane of Cape Elizabeth and the Purpoodock Club tied for second in the New England Junior Championship in Putnam, Conn. McFarlane finished at 2-under for 54 holes, two shots out of first, The Maine team finished fourth. Massachusetts won the team title.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

tchard@pressherald.com

Twitter: TomChardPPH

 

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