The Patronik family of Orchard Park crowned its second Section VI Golf Champion on Monday at River Oaks Golf Club.
Adam Patronik shot a 2-under 70 after the first 18 holes and followed that up with a 38 over the final nine to outdistance a field of 69 golfers with a five-stroke victory.
“The driver was the key today. I kept the ball in play,” said Patronik, who said he averaged 290 yards off the tee. “I was a little nervous going into it [the final nine holes], it’s different, I’ve never been in that situation before. I told myself, ‘Don’t do anything stupid, just keep everything in front of you,’ ”
Patronik’s older brother by 12 years, Dave, won the Section VI title twice in his career before graduating in 2002. “My dad and my brother have really played a big part in my golf career. I’m happy I could etch my name into a little bit of the history. I’m super happy with the way I handled this and I can’t wait to get to Cornell.”
The top nine advance to the New York State Championships June 1-2 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course at Cornell University.
Earning a spot along with Patronik were Andrew Kempton of Clarence (113), Nolan Ditcher of Randolph (114), Kevin Borowicz of Grand Island (115), Steve Kaufmann of Iroquois (115), Matt Lesinski of Williamsville North (115), Mitch Feneziani of West Seneca West (116), Aaron Orechwa of Eden (117) and Erich Spitz of Orchard Park (117). Matt Vona of Lake Shore won a four-man playoff at 118 to earn the alternate spot.
Kempton rode five birdies during his round to earn runner-up honors. He said his first 18 holes were better than his final nine, but he was just happy to earn a seat on the bus.
Just a sophomore, this will be Ditcher’s third trip to states. He gave Section VI its best finish last year at states tying for fifth.
“I know the course pretty well, I’ll try to be as competitive as I can and maybe give it a run to win. I didn’t play fantastic last year when I tied for fifth. I’m not going to be happy to be there, I’ll be happy to win,” he said.
Borowicz had the advantage of playing on his home course.
“Down the stretch on the first 18 I got a little ahead of myself, but I play here everyday and I knew I could shoot low on the second nine,” he said. “I know the course better than anybody here and I really think that helped me out.”
Steve Kaufmann’s brother, Ryan, also made it to states in 2012 as the Section VI champion. Steve carded an eagle on No. 17 to highlight his round.
After missing his drive on the par-5, 495-yard hole, he got to within 40 feet with a 5-wood and sank the putt. Steve will attend Coastal Carolina in the fall where he will study Golf Management.
Feneziani said the wind was tough all day and while there were some wet spots, the course was pretty dry. “I made a lot of nice putts for par and on the last hole of the second nine I made a 20-foot putt to save it,” he said.
Orechwa credits his ability to scramble with his making the team.
“I didn’t hit the ball that great, but I got it up and down,” Orechwa said.
Spitz gave Orchard Park two state qualifiers. He came into the event as the ECIC champion from the fall. Spitz said he hit the ball strong all day to help compensate for a below-average day on the greens. “The greens were really quick and they had a lot of slope to them, so it was tough,” he said.
The cut after the first 18 holes was an ultra-competitive 80. The past two years it was 84 and in 2011 it was 87.