Hornblower Memorial Tournament Ends with URI Grad Billy Walthouse as Champion

The steady rain and frequent lightning won round one of the Hornblower Memorial on Friday, June 2. The steady play and frequent birdies of Billy Walthouse won round two and the tournament at 2-under par 136 on Saturday. And Davis Chatfield came in second alone—again. Walthouse’s birdies on 16 and 18 and his 3-under par 66, the low round of the tournament, proved the difference as all the leaders save for Chatfield (68-69) faltered down the stretch.

Billy Walthouse and Davis Chatfield - Hornblower

Billy Walthouse (right) made his tournament-winning birdie putt on 18 while Davis Chatfield, runner-up two years in a row, left his putt just an inch away from a playoff.

 The deluge and fireworks on Friday afternoon halted play for good with 24 of the 52 threesomes still on the course. Tournament Director Mike Ellis and Head Professional A.J. Petrulak decided that a 6:45 a.m. shotgun on Saturday would finish round one by late morning and allow for the second round to begin at noon. That major player Mother Nature provided some clement weather early on Saturday, and round one was completed without delay.

The Leaders After Round One (Finally)

The leader board was crowded at the top. Brockton Country Club member Jason Cook, a 40-something in a field dominated by 20-somethings, had the lead with a 2-under 67, the impetus coming from a sizzling finish—birdie on 15, eagle on 16 (PCC’s only par 5), and birdie on 18. In hot pursuit were 17 players who had shot from 68-71.

Chief among them were five-time Plymouth CC club champion Stephen Kuhn and Davis Chatfield at 68. Max Ferrari, John Hadges, Herbie Aikens, and Monte Mullen were at even-par 69. Seven players, including Billy Walthouse, were at 70, and four more were at 71.

Round two began on time after new pin placements were cut, and several of the cups were in treacherous or, at least, unfriendly territory. In spite of Friday’s weather, but like that weather, the greens were still lightning fast. And Mother Nature continued her clemency, although drizzle and drops did fall from time to time during the afternoon.

Jason Cook - Hornblower

Jason Cook led for 35 holes until his double bogey on 18 proved to be his undoing.

Billy Walthouse Makes His Move

Three back at the beginning of the final round, Walthouse, a 2017 URI grad and a General Business major, played the front side in even-par 34 with two birdies (6 & 7) and two bogeys (3 & 9). He played flawless golf on the back, however, shooting a 3-under 32. He birdied the difficult 11th hole and then birdied 16 from six feet.

What was Walthouse, a member of Longmeadow CC, thinking on the 18th tee? He said, “I had just missed a good chance to birdie 17, and I really wanted to make birdie on 18 and post that 2-under score.”

How did he do it? He said, “I hit a really nice drive to 133 yards from the pin and then hit a good second shot to about 15 feet, but I had a sidehill, downhill, right-to-left putt. I remembered what Mike Ellis had told me the day before about 18—slow front to back and fast back to front, and whatever break you see cut it in half. I made one of my best strokes of the day, and I watched the ball fall in on the right side of the hole. That’s a putt I’ll remember for a long time.”

Round One Leaders Stop Leading

Walthouse posted his 2-under score and expected either to be in a playoff or to lose outright to Cook, Kuhn, or Chatfield, who were still on the course. Cook shot even par on the front and birdied 10 to go 3-under. He then made bogey on 13, parred 14 and 15, and converted an eight-foot par putt on 16 and a 20 foot par putt on 17 to stand at 2-under on 18 tee. Needing a par to force a playoff, he hit a good drive into the fairway, but his second shot nestled into the fringe by the green in an awkward lie, below and left of the hole. Cook hit the putt too hard, leaving himself with a six-foot downhiller. He missed coming back—and Walthouse was the 2017 Hornblower Memorial champion. Cook made a double on 18 to finish at 71 for a 138 and third place.

Stephen Kuhn - Hornblower

Five-time PCC champ and one off the lead going into the second round, Stephen Kuhn made five birdies but too many bogeys and shot 73 to finish seventh.

Stephen Kuhn, with five birdies in his round but with seven bogeys and one double, shot 73 for a 141 and a seventh-place finish. Chatfield, who will be going to Notre Dame on a golf scholarship this fall, missed a 10-foot birdie putt last year on 18 to get into a playoff with 2016 champ Brandon Gillis (72, 76 this year). Again, Chatfield’s excellent drives and accurate irons set him up for birdie chances on holes 14-18, but he missed every putt, with two hitting the hole. He had a 15-foot putt on 18 that refused to break and stopped, almost overhanging the hole.

Chatfield, the epitome of poise and deft ball striking and the defending 2016 Rhode Island Amateur champ, had no regrets. He said, “Yeah, that final putt I hit just the way I wanted to, but it just didn’t come down. I had a long day today, getting up at 4:45 [in Attleboro, MA] to make the 6:45 tee time, but I parred the difficult third hole, my first hole of the day, and started off my round very well. I liked my swing and felt I had the opportunity to go low. I was most pleased with my 68, took a nap in the car, and then started the second round. I was still swinging well. I just wish I could have holed another putt or two. But I definitely take pleasure from the way I played the 34 holes today.”

The Best of the Rest

No one finished at 139, but three were at 140 for fourth place: Andy Drohen (70-70), Crestview CC; Mark Turner (71-69), Bass Rock GC; and Andrew Warfield (72-68), Marlboro CC. Thorny Lea’s John Hadges, who turned 55 on Saturday and has won two Hornblower titles (2006 & 2013), shot 69-73 for a 142 and eighth place all alone. Rounding out the Top 10 players at 143 were Herbie Aikens (69-74) and former Mass Player of the Year Doug Clapp (70-73) from Amherst College. Hometown favorite Aikens was one off the lead until his double on six and snowman on seven derailed his chances, although he played the other 16 holes one under.

Aikens did receive a lot of credit from Billy Walthouse, however. He said, “Herbie’s the one who got me to play here. We were at the U.S. Amateur Four Ball at Pinehurst last week, and Herbie talked me into participating. Yes, so thanks to Herbie.”

Generational Achievements

The three youngest players in the field to make the cut but not win the junior crown were high school juniors Danny Frodigh (75-70) from Westwood and Dedham Golf and Polo Club; Nathan Ingram (74-77) from BC High and Pembroke CC; and Jared Winiarz (75-77) from Norton and Norton CC. The oldest player to make the cut was 62-year-old Kevin Carey (73-74) from South Dennis on Cape Cod and Dennis Pines GC. Carey won the inaugural Senior Hornblower in 2014.

Dillion Brown - Hornblower

Halifax CC’s Dillon Brown shot 69 on Saturday to win the Junior Championship by one stroke over Dedham Golf and Polo Club’s Danny Frodigh.

At the awards ceremony, Tournament Director Mike Ellis also recognized the Hornblower’s Junior Champion: Dillon Brown (75-69), a junior at Silver Lake Regional High School and a member of Halifax CC. Brown said, “I am extremely proud of this accomplishment, and I can’t wait to return next year for a shot at the real title. The course is awesome. The Hornblower is the perfect event to start the year’s tournament season.”

A Very Long Day Comes to a Close

The long day ended when Champ Billy Walthouse, who will have a busy amateur schedule before turning pro in the fall, addressed the players and guests in the new PCC clubhouse, now celebrating its 10th anniversary.  He graciously thanked Mike Eillis, A.J. Petrulak, Super Ben Whiting and the PCC members for making the tournament as successful as it was. His final words were, “The Hornblower was a great start to my summer, and I hope I can keep it going.”

Then Mother Nature decided to play through again, but the downpour outside could not dampen the spirits inside of Billy Walthouse, Davis Chatfield, Dillon Brown, or any of the many players who participated this year and who are anticipating their return in 2018.

(Photo Photography by Vicky MacKay)