John Kircher and Michael Mercier Win 2014 N.Y.S. Four-Ball Championship
COOPERSTOWN, NY - The 2014 N.Y.S. Men's Four-Ball Championship returned for the second consecutive year to the Otesaga Resort's Leatherstocking Golf Course. Last year the Buffalo duo of Matt Stasiak (Fox Valley Club) and Jon Clark (Crag Burn Golf Club) burst on the NYSGA scene by winning the championship a seven strokes, posting rounds of 65 and 63 for a two-day total of 128. The teams of Billy Hanes/Raman Luthra and Michael A. Carrig/Michael C. Carrig finished in second at nine under par. This year the winning team didn't run away with the championship.
Heading into the second and round, Billy Hanes and Jamie Miller held a one-stroke lead over John Kircher and Michael Mercier, after teaming up to score a 6-under par round of 66 in round one. The Hanes/Miller duo started slow in round two, posting bogeys on holes 2, 5 and 8. Jamie Milller, who plays out of Tri-County Country Club in Forestville, birdied six out of the next eight holes, giving his team a two stroke lead over Kircher/Mercier heading into 17.
The 17th hole is the start of two strong finishing holes that are routed on the shores of Otsego Lake. Measured at 186 yards, the par-3 isn't overwhelmingly long, but with the entire right side guarded by the water hazard and bunkers on the left, it is an intimidating tee shot. Both Hanes and Miller missed the green left, while Mercier and Kircher safely found the center of the green. The Mercier/Kircher team walked off the green with par and gained a stroke, after Hanes and Miller failed to get up and down for par.
Now on the 18th, Hanes/Miller were in the lead by just a single stroke. But they still held the advantage because of their considerable length off the tee, and the 18th is a par-5 measuring only 515 yards. But the long hitting Hanes and Miller failed to make birdie, or even par, and with their bogey six came up tied with Mercier and Kircher for the championship.
On to the playoff and the short ride back to the 18th tee. This time it seemed that Miller had the upper hand, hitting the front-left portion of the green in two. The only problem was he still had a good 40-50 feet to the hole and had to putt up a three foot swale to the back shelf where the hole was located. His eagle putt had good distance but it was off to the right, and he failed to hole his next putt for birdie. Meanwhile Kircher had played the hole conservatively and made his par to advance to the second playoff hole, the 6th hole at Leatherstocking.
The 6th hole is a short par-4, measuring just 362 yards and feautures a small, elevated green with bunkers on the left and right side. Kircher played his iron approach to the left side of the green, about 30 feet from the front hole location. Hanes had played a wonderful approach to 15 feet above the hole, and faced a fast, breaking putt for his birdie.
Kircher quickly surveyed his putt and started it on its way to the hole, slowly creeping down the hill and into the center of the cup for a birdie-3. Just a moment earlier it seemed Hanes/Miller held the advantage, but now Hanes had to make his birdie putt just to continue the playoff. His difficult putt slid down the hill, breaking away from the cup at the last moment. With that long putt Kircher had clinched the championship for his team.