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Denesha to face Bufalini in city golf final

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It’s been a pretty eventful week for Chris Denesha.

He went from the brink of elimination in his very first 2012 City Men’s Golf Championship match to a spot in today’s finals in the span of six days.

After beating Paul Ahlgrim 2 up in Saturday’s semifinals at Watertown Golf Club, the C-Way Golf Club member has a shot at his first city crown against one of the best ever to play in the city event.

Denesha takes on four-time winner John Bufalini in a 36-hole finale beginning at 8 a.m. today. Bufalini, playing rock steady again, dispatched Joe Tufo 3 and 2 in the other semifinal.

Denesha said he thought his game was pretty solid beginning the week. And despite not making a lot of putts in his four matches, it has gotten better.

“I’m driving it well and hitting a lot of good irons,’’ said the 27-year-old Denesha, who took the lead for good against Ahlgrim with a par on 16, then finished him off with a 25-foot birdie putt on 18. “That putt on 18 was one of the few I’ve made this week. But I’ve been avoiding trouble for the most part.’’

Denesha began the tournament with a career-best qualifying round of even-par 72 last Saturday.

But in his first championship flight match, Denesha found himself five holes down with six to play against teenager Jacob Wojasinski before rallying for a 1 up victory.

Denesha beat former champion Adam Brown in the second round and then Michael Burgess in the quarterfinals before eliminating Ahlgrim.

“It just goes to show you that you can never give up,’’ Denesha said. “This is my fourth city tournament and I’ve lost in the first round the previous three times. I thought it was going to happen again, but things turned around quickly in that first match. And that gave me a lot of confidence.’’

Denesha’s day began poorly, however, with a bad iron shot on the first hole, which led to a bogey and a lost hole.

Both players drove the green on two and made eagle, and Denesha won No. 3 with a par to draw even.

A Denesha bogey 4 on No. 5 gave Ahlgrim the advantage again, but Ahlgrim gave that right back on six when his drive finished under a tree and he took an unplayable lie.

Ahlgrim, looking for a spot in his second city final, then seized the momentum with a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 8 and a chip-in birdie on No. 9.

That was short-lived, however, as he again hit under a tree on his second shot on 10 to lose the hole. Denesha rallied with easy birdies on 13 and 14 to gain a 1 up advantage.

Ahlgrim drove the green on the 312-yard 15th hole, just missing eagle, to forge another tie. But he could not get up an down from right of the green on 16, while Denesha two-putted for par.

A clutch 15-foot par putt by Ahlgrim on 17 kept the match alive. But needing birdie on the final hole, Ahlgrim could manage only a par then watched as Denesha drained his uphill putt for birdie.

“Too many unforced errors,’’ Ahlgrim said. “The last couple of matches have been a little shaky. If you’re not well under par at this point, you’re probably going to lose.’’

Bufalini, who has won four of his previous five championship matches, was on cruise control most of his match.

He took the early lead with birdies on 2 and 3, and added another birdie on 6 to make the turn with a 3 up lead.

After shooting a pedestrian 1-over-par 37 on the front, Tufo couldn’t get much going on the back side, either.

When he birdied 12, so did Bufalini. Bufalini made one of his few mistakes on 13, driving into the front bunker and making bogey.

He then three-putted 14 for bogey, allowing Tufo to halve the hole, and missed a 3-foot birdie putt on 15 to go three up with three holes to play.

Both missed the green on the par-3 16th. However, Bufalini was able to get up and down for par, but Tufo could not as the match ended.

“A couple of hiccups there, but pretty steady,’’ said Bufalini, who finished 3-under par. “When I got the early lead (after 6) I tried to stay aggressive, and just not do anything crazy.’’

Tufo said he “hit the ball awful. And I didn’t make those six footers that would have kept me in the match longer. John gave me a little help on 14 and 15, and I got a bad break with mud on my ball on 16.”





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