Matt Stasiak started this week's Buffalo District Golf Association Junior Match Play tournament by setting the bar pretty high.
During Monday's qualifying, he shot a course-record 8-under-par 63. The 18-year-old Clarence native did not disappoint later in the week, walking away with the title on Thursday at Sheridan Golf Course.
"Yeah, I'm pretty happy with the way I played this week," Stasiak said. "A few weeks prior to this I wasn't really playing that well and then I came out this week and played probably the best I've played all year."
Stasiak defeated defending champion Michael Carrig, 2-1, after 17 holes.
In the Sub Junior division, 12-year-old Andrew Romano took home the hardware. Romano, of Lancaster, defeated East Aurora's Kyle Kapturkowski in a three-hole playoff.
It was the biggest win of Romano's young career, but Kapturkowski almost took it from him. With a two-hole lead heading to the 15th hole, Romano lost three of the next four holes to force the playoff, but after two even holes, he walked away the winner.
"I'm excited about the win, but I choked at the end," Romano said.
Carrig and Stasiak, who played together once before in the Porter Cup qualifier, had such an even match that until the ninth hole, neither held larger than a one-hole lead. Carrig pulled out to a two-hole advantage on the ninth hole but on the back nine, Stasiak took his game up a notch.
"I knew if I stuck around I'd probably get my chance to make a comeback and pick up a few holes, which I did on the back," Stasiak said. "I played really well on the back. I had a bogey, two birdies and four pars, so I think I was consistent."
Down two holes, Stasiak made a par putt while Carrig bogeyed the 11th to bring him within one and he would not drop below that again.
"Making that 4-foot putt on 11 for par to win that hole and get within one was definitely a turning point because I kind of got a little momentum and played really well after that," Stasiak said.
While Stasiak flexed his muscles on the back nine, Carrig faltered. After losing his ball in the bushes on the 12th hole and being charged a penalty stroke, Carrig then hit his drive off the 14th tee into the water, costing him yet another stroke. Before both costly errors, Carrig had commanded a one-hole lead. But after each hole he was back even with Stasiak.
Stasiak then won both of the next two holes and, after Carrig made what looked to be the par putt to keep him in the game on No. 17, Stasiak stayed calm and made par himself to win.
"He played really well today," Stasiak said of Carrig. "He made a bunch of birdies on the par-3s and that kept him in it. He played really consistent and it was a good match, it was a lot of fun."
With the win Stasiak qualifies for the BDGA Individual Stroke Play tournament August 9-11 at Transit Valley.