YOUNGSTOWN – Nicholas Morreale swears he doesn’t know what his secret is when it comes to playing in the Buffalo District Golf Association Men’s Mid-Amateur championship.
Either that, or he’s not willing to share it – which would be understandable given his track record in the event.
Morreale, 36, defended his title Monday by firing a round of even-par 71 at Niagara Frontier Country Club. The victory gives Morreale three Mid-Am championships in the last five years and five overall in the 13-year history of the event.
“I just seem to play well in it,” he said with a shrug of the shoulders when asked for his secret. “I think it’s pure luck. I really don’t know why I seem to always play well in this event. I mean, I like it, so I get excited for it.”
Morreale also could draw on some old course knowledge of the rolling terrain at Niagara Frontier, having played his high school matches with Lewiston-Porter at the course.
“I thought the pins were really tough, but Frontier always plays tough because they have a lot of undulations and small greens,” he said. “If you get past the pin on any of them, almost all the greens slope back to front, so you’ve always got a tough putt coming down.
“Chipping from over the green is almost impossible. So my game plan when I play Frontier is, if I’m going to miss, miss short. So that’s what I did today. My misses were all short of the green and they were easy up and downs from there.”
Morreale started his day with a birdie on the par-5 14th (it was a shotgun start), two-putting from about 30 feet after reaching the green in two on the 490-yard hole. That started a trend of playing either one shot above or below par for the entire round.
“It was a really consistent round,” said Morreale, who works as a certified public accountant at Chiampou Travis Besaw & Kershner LLP, and plays out of Niagara Falls Country Club. “I like playing with mid-ams – it’s a little different than going against the college guys. It’s just a fun event, so I get geared up for it and have played well.”
Morreale played the front nine holes well, making birdies on the par-4 first, fifth and ninth holes, as well as the par-5 eighth.
His last birdie came on No. 9, when he rolled in a 30-footer.
“Other than that, it was 5 feet and in for birdies,” he said. “I didn’t actually hit my irons real well today, but I was hitting my driver well, my wedges were good and I putted well.”
The event, which is for players 25 and older, was originally scheduled last month, but had to be postponed because of rain. The original field of 53 was reduced to 43 through late withdrawals.
Niagara Frontier will also host the BDGA men’s individual championship in August, which gave players Monday a sneak peek of sorts.
James Irwin III carded a 75 to finish in solo second, one shot ahead of Mike Piccillo, PJ Alterio and Patrick Nealon.
Champions Tour veteran Lon Nielsen won the Western New York PGA’s Bradford Hospital Foundation Pro-Am on Monday, carding a round of 4-under 68 at Pine Acres Country Club in Bradford, Pa.
Nielsen, an Orchard Park resident and PGA life member, finished one shot ahead of Rob Krajewski, an assistant pro at Orchard Park Country Club.