STOCKBRIDGE -- Chad Alibozek watched his shot at par on the 11th hole hit the edge of the cup and roll away from the hole.
At the time, he had no idea how important that putt was.
For the most part his putting was pretty solid during the Western Massachusetts Division II tournament at Stockbridge Golf Club on Monday. His ability to hit putts from about 15 feet and shorter made up for what he called a "poor chipping day." It wasn't enough to claim his first Western Mass. title, however. The Hoosac Valley senior shot a 4-over-par 71 and lost by one stroke to Granby's Matt Iczkowski.
Iczkowski shot a 74 to claim his second straight Division II title.
"This one hurts," Alibozek said. "I missed such a short putt and I would have been going to a playoff on a hole that I birdied if I hit it."
His second-place finish still qualifies him for the Division II State Championships next Monday. Drury's Alex Boulger also qualified for the tournament shooting an 85 to finish in a tie for fourth place. Teammate Matt Lawrence finished with an 89. The Blue Devils shot a 365 as a team to finish in third place -- the top two teams qualify for states.
Boulger's finish comes a week after he had a difficult round at the Berkshire County Classic, which was also at Stockbridge. He shot a 10 on the par-5 seventh in the Classic and then was assigned to start Monday's tournament on that hole.
"I knew exactly how to avoid
Alibozek couldn't seem to stay on track on the windy and difficult course. He had four birdies, but bogeyed eight holes. Most of his birdies were followed by a bogey, slowing down his momentum.
"The course just played brutal today," Alibozek said. "My chipping was just horrendous compared to normal. I kind of just scrapped together a 75 I really didn't feel that good."
He three-putted on the 11th hole, his first three-putt since a match against Wahconah on Sept. 7. He started off the back nine with three straight bogeys, after bogeying the ninth hole, as well.
"I usually have a lot of pars, but today I was just hitting shots like I never hit," Alibozek said. "Overall, a 75 and second in Western Mass., you have to take that. Now I'll just move onto states, I could still win at states.
"What sucks is it came down to the tap-in putt I missed on 11. It was under a foot, I really don't know what happened there."
Boulger also thought he could have played better on some of the holes. He had just one birdie, but shot par on four holes.
"I hit greens and in regulation," Boulger said. "That was really the key. I didn't do as good as I could putting, but I'll take an 85."
After Alibozek the next closest score was an 83, shot by Zack Adams of Mahar. Edward Sablak tied Boulger with an 85.
Palmer and Granby both shot team scores of 351, with Palmer winning on a tie-breaker. Drury was closest to the champs with a 365, four strokes in front of Hampshire.
Stockbridge Golf Club traditionally plays as a difficult course as it is, but a strong wind made it even tougher.
"It seemed like on every hole it was coming against you," Lawrence said. "You hit the ball in the air and it was like playing ping-pong with yourself, it just comes right back and doesn't go anywhere."
Berkshire County players were at an advantage on the course after playing it a week ago for the Classic. The wind changed their approaches on several of the holes, however.
"I think I dealt with [the wind] well," Boulger said. "I know my distances on pretty much all of these holes, so I just clubbed up if it was windy or clubbed down if it was going away.
"I honestly thought I had no chance at all. I knew I was playing all right but didn't think it would cut it. Because of the conditions today and the layout of the course, it's an easy course to blow up on. Fortunately, I didn't blow up."
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