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Stoll breaks through for title; BDGA Jr. crown comes on fifth try

Desmond Stoll finally got the tournament championship he's been waiting for.

Stoll carded a final round of 1-over 73 Monday at pristine Country Club of Buffalo, winning his first Buffalo District Golf Association Junior Championship.

"It means a lot because it took me five years," he said. "I've been close for so long. This tournament has given me a hard time throughout the years, so it feels good to finally come out with a win."

Stoll, 18, shot even par (216) over three rounds. He opened the tournament last month with a 3-under 69 at Deerwood, then shot 74 in the second round at CCB. He finished with a three-shot victory over Patrick Fahey, who carded the best round Monday, a 3-under 69 on the classic Donald Ross-designed course, which played at 6,444 yards.

"The way I was hitting it at first was a little shaky," Stoll said. "I wasn't hitting the driver well and that's usually my best club. I kind of just hung in there and made some birdies."

Stoll, who graduated in June from Lockport, birdied Nos. 2 and 4 on the front side. He hit a sand wedge from 107 yards to 15 feet and converted the putt on the par-4 second hole, then sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the 501-yard, par-5 fourth.

"I told myself I wasn't going to focus on a specific score," he said. "I had a goal to make five birdies, and I finished with four. I thought if I could do that I could just worry about myself and not what others around me were doing."

Stoll was playing for just the second time at CCB, and the little course knowledge he had came in handy on the back nine. During the tournament's second round on July 26, he hit to the wrong green on the par-5 13th. He corrected himself Monday and made birdie on the 545-yard par-5, narrowly missing an eagle chip before tapping in from 2 feet.

He added a final birdie on the par-5 17th when he knocked home a 15-foot putt. That came after he double bogeyed the par-3 16th.

"That's just a really tough hole," Stoll said. "I short-sided myself in the bunker, hit it short, then chipped on and two-putted. It was big to get one back on 17."

Stoll, who plays out of Lockport Town and Country Club, is a four-time All-Niagara Frontier League player who qualified for this year's state high school tournament. He will next play in the District men's championship, which runs Thursday through Saturday at Brookfield Country Club.

He leaves Aug. 19 for Central College, a four-year school in Pella, Iowa. He'll play for one of the most successful Division III programs in the country. The Dutch have won 29 Iowa Conference championships in the past 42 years.

"I went out and visited a few months ago," Stoll said. "I absolutely loved it. It's a great little town and a great school."

He'll leave with confidence from Monday's result.

"Sometimes that's all it takes is one," said BDGA executive director Tom Sprague. "He's been knocking on the door of this one for years."

Third-place finisher Cory Cullen, who will be a junior at St. Francis, shot 77 as the wind picked up in the afternoon, finishing with a three-round total of 224. The field was cut to 16 for the second round and eight for the final round.

Brad Belote won the sub-juniors (14-under) championship. Belote, 14, shot 74 Tuesday to finish with a three-round total of 215 that included a 6-under 66 in the first round at Deerwood.

The juniors play from the blue tees and the sub-junior from the whites.