Sports

Sports Roundup -- D’Amico records save for Wing Pt.

Jeff D’Amico’s brief stint as a major league pitcher with the Kansas City Royals hardly registers statistically – one start, no wins, no losses.

But there’s no doubt that on the golf course, the Wing Point assistant pro chalked up a save in Sunday’s Fred Schaffer Helpline House golf tournament.

With his team two strokes ahead with two holes to play, D’Amico faced Wing Point’s short but dangerous 17th hole – a 270-yard carry over a pond. Rejecting the safe play – a short-iron lay-up and a wedge into the green – D’Amico instead boomed a three wood right at the flag.

The ball arced over the pond, and stopped less than 10 feet from the hole. When D’Amico rolled in his eagle putt, the Wing Point team reclaimed the tropy with a 133-138 victory over Meadowmeer’s duo of pro Tom Mueller and amateur Ian Ritchie.

“The better team clearly won today,” said Mueller, playing in the last of his 13 Shaffer events. “Standing there with a two-shot lead, D’Amico could have played it safe, but he went for it and hit a great shot.”

D’Amico always plays the hole as an ultra-long one-shotter, “although I’ve only made eagle maybe one other time,” he said. “If you play it in two shots, the second shot isn’t really all that easy, so if you’ve got the right club in your hand, you might as well go for it.”

D’Amico’s emphatic shot broke open what had been a tight match between the two-man teams representing the island’s two golf establishments.

The Meadowmeer team took a one-shot lead in the morning round played on their home course when Mueller – previewing D’Amico’s later heroics – drove the short par-4 16th hole and nailed a 35-foot eagle putt.

Wing Point evened the match on the first nine of the afternoon round as Mueller’s control off the tee deserted him. Ritchie, a 3-handicap player who belongs to both clubs, did a remarkable job holding the net loss to one stoke, matching Wing Point pro Dave Tunkkari shot for shot on several occasions.

The back nine at Wing Point belonged to the home side, as Meadowmeer hung on with surprising tenacity, but never really threatened to gain a shot.

Tunkkari’s birdie at the par-5 tenth gave Wing Point a lead it wouldn’t relinquish, and a par from D’Amico at the 13th, when everyone else took penalty strokes for errant shots, created the cushion that lasted until the 17th.

“What killed us was being two over par on the par 5s,” said Ritchie, who generates surprising power and consistency from an unorthodox stiff-wristed swing that produces a low trajectory and controlled fade. “But I was just honored to be playing with these guys.”

Tunkkari said the difference in the match was Meadowmeer’s difficulties keeping tee shots in the fairway, reducing their opportunities for birdie putts.

“Tom had some trouble out there, but I was really impressed with how well Ian played,” said Tunkkari. “You have to keep the ball in the fairway to give yourself opportunities, and that gets harder and harder when you’re a couple of shots down and running out of holes.”

It was the curtain call for Mueller, who has played in all but one of the charity events. He will leave Meadowmeer at the end of the summer to take one last shot at the professional golf tour.

“I’ll be spending a year getting into shape physically and mentally, taking lessons and working on my game 10 hours a day,” said Mueller. “I’m 37 years old, and the tiny window of opportunity is about to close, so if I’m going to go for it, now has to be the time.”

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