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Bufalini captures fifth City Men’s Golf Championship

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John Bufalini’s fifth City Men’s Golf Championship crown came on a record-setting day.

And from the looks of Bufalini’s golf game, and the kind of shape he keeps himself in at the age of 50, Bufalini should still be a legitimate contender for some time to come.

Playing nearly flawless golf through 24 holes Sunday at Watertown Golf Club, Bufalini overwhelmed first-time finalist Chris Denesha 13 and 12 in the championship flight final that was scheduled for 36 holes.

Bufalini seized an almost insurmountable 7-up lead through the morning 18 holes, then birdied four of his first five holes in the afternoon 18 before closing out Denesha on when the challenger drove out of bounds.

For Bufalini, this was just as sweet as his first city title in 1990. With son Michael on the bag for most of the week, the elder Bufalini drove the ball exceptionally well, hit a ton of greens and made enough putts to beat all comers. Bufalini said when he looks back on what he accomplished this week, he will always smile.

“As far as ball striking, this was probably one of my best city tournament weeks ever,’’ he said. “I didn’t putt great, but I putted good enough and made most of the putts I should have. I know Chris is a better player than what he showed today. But all golfers have had days like that when not much goes right.’’

Most of Denesha’s problems came with the putter in his hands. In his words, “my putting was atrocious. My caddy told me that putt I made on the second hole was the only one that hit the bottom of the cup. And he was right.’’

After the first hole was halved with bogeys and the second with birdies, Bufalini began pulling away.

Bufalini won three with a par when Denesha three-putted, four after another Denesha three-putt and five with a 20-foot birdie putt.

Denesha birdied No. 6 to regain a hole, but he lost seven to another Bufalini birdie, and then bogeyed eight and nine to fall five down at the turn.

One of Bufalini’s few mistakes, a second shot on the par-5 10th hole that went out of bounds, led to Denesha winning that hole. And the 27-year-old accountant appeared to right the ship when he birdied No. 11 to get back to three down.

But that was the last putt of any significance Denesha made.

He missed a short birdie putt on 12 after Bufalini made his. Bufalini won 13 when Denesha drove out of bounds right. And Bufalini took 14 with a par when Denesha could not get up and down from the back rough.

Bufalini was 6 up heading to 18, where he made a par from just in front of the green, while Denesha could not from almost the same spot.

“Being that far ahead, I didn’t want to take my foot off the pedal,’’ said Bufalini, who last won a city title in 2008. “But I didn’t want to get overly aggressive, either, because I knew pars would be good.’’

However, Bufalini made quick work of Denesha as the afternoon round began.

He birdied No. 1 from short range while Denesha missed.

Denesha’s putter betrayed him again on two when he missed a five-footer to fall nine down.

Things got worse for Denesha when another drive sailed out of bounds on three. Bufalini then nailed a 12-footer for birdie on No. 4, and stuffed his tee shot within a foot on the par-3 fifth hole to win another hole and seize an 11 up advantage.

The clincher came on No. 6 when Denesha’s tee ball couldn’t be found well right, and he had to take a drop with his provisional ball that ended up under a tree. After he hit another tree, Denesha conceded the hole and the match.

“A couple of bad tee shots didn’t help, but I hit the ball pretty well off the tee and hit a lot of greens this week,’’ Denesha said. “But when you feel like you can’t get the ball in the hole, it’s tough. And when you get down like I did, you try to make everything.’’

Bufalini said the key to his longevity is, “I keep myself in good shape with a workout regimen. And I still love to practice and play. This tournament will always be special to me. I hope to play in it as long as I can swing a club.’’

That’s bad news for all of the other city competitors.

Steve Ahlgrim won the first flight, 2 and 1 over Mike Tufo. Paul Trimper beat Drew Laemmermann 1 up in the second flight, and Dennis Germain beat Joey Fay 6 and 4 in the third flight.

Semifinalists in all flights are reminded to pick up their merchandize certificates in the WGC Pro Shop.




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