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Scorse Scores Fifth District Championship Title in Three-Hole Playoff at Locust Hill

Written by Dave Eaton. Posted in News

Jim Scorse, second from right, is presented with the Championship trophy by RDGA President Mark Battle, left, RDGA Tournament Chairman Mike Sorce, second from left, and Chuck Ryan, brother of the late John H. Ryan Jr., after winning the 87th RDGA District Championship John H. Ryan Jr. Memorial at Locust Hill Country Club on July 15. It was the fifth RDGA title for Scorse, who now has the third most titles in the history of the District Championship.

CLICK HERE for the full LEADERBOARD from the 2017 RDGA District Championship
CLICK HERE for a PHOTO GALLERY from the 2017 RDGA District Championship
CLICK HERE for a post-tournament INTERVIEW with 2017 Champion Jim Scorse
CLICK HERE for a feature article on tournament host LOCUST HILL COUNTRY CLUB
 
The 87th RDGA District Championship John H. Ryan Memorial may have been shortened to 54 holes due to inclement weather, but what it lacked in length was made up for in a dramatic finish at Locust Hill Country Club.
 
On Saturday, July 15, Stafford Country Club's Jim Scorse captured his fifth RDGA District Championship, defeating Jeff March of Irondequoit Country Club on the third hole of a sudden death playoff. For Scorse, the victory came on the same course where he won his first RDGA title in 2001.
 
March, who had led the Championship since the first round on Wednesday, finished regulation play with scores of 71-72-71 for a 2-over-par, 214 total over 54 holes. Scorse began the Championship with a 2-over-par 74 on Wednesday, then posted back-to-back rounds of 2-under-par 70 on Friday and Saturday to finish at 214.
 
Championship week began Tuesday at Locust Hill with practice rounds and the annual Past Champions Dinner.

2017 RDGA District Champion Jim Scorse drives off the tee on No. 10
in the final round at Locust Hill. (Photo by Lex Sleeman)
   

Locust Hill, the host of the LPGA Tour in Rochester for 38 years, was ready and well-prepared as host of the top amateur championship on the RDGA schedule.

In Wednesday's first round, Kevin Thornton of Ridgemont Country Club and local newcomer Jeff March of Irondequoit Country Club each posted a 1-under-par 71 to take a two-shot lead. With 12 players within three shots of the lead - including four-time District Champion Jim Scorse of Stafford at 74 - the 2017 RDGA District Championship was well on the way towards a memorable finish.

During Thursday's second round, however, Mother Nature had other ideas. Following the wet and stormy trend that had become the norm this season, nearby lightning strikes and heavy rainfall forced the suspension of play with half the starting field yet to tee off in Round 2.

With parts of the course deemed unplayable due to the accumulation of standing water, the decision was made to resume and complete the second round on Friday, followed by the 36-hole cut to the low 40 players and ties. It was also decided, due to scheduling considerations, that the Championship be shortened from 72 holes to 54 holes - marking the first time that the Championship would be completed in less than four rounds since the event changed to a stroke play format in 1969.

When the second round was finally completed, the leaderboard revealed a group of four of the top players in the District, each with a shot at the 2017 RDGA District Championship title, including Jeff March, who led by one shot going into the third and final round of play.
 
March, who moved into the Rochester area with his family from the Washington D.C. area last year, posted rounds of 71 and 72 and was attempting to lead the Championship from start to finish.
 
Following March after two rounds was Scorse, who added a 2-under-par 70 to his first round of 74 to enter the final round in second place behind March. Also in contention - and tied for third place at 145 - was Oak Hill member Jason Schantz and Locust Hill's own Adam Condello.'
 
The final round of the 2017 RDGA Championship was a back-and-forth battle from the outset. March took a two shot lead over Scorse with a birdie on the first hole. He gave back a shot with a bogey on No. 5 but Scorse pulled even with a birdie on the following hole. March again pulled ahead with a birdie on the eighth hole.

On the back nine, March gave another one back with a bogey on the 10th hole - then Scorse birdied the par-5 11th hole to re-take the lead. Scorse then entered his worst stretch of the Championship, posting two bogies on 13 and 15 to fall behind by one with three to play. March came close to taking a 2-shot lead at 17 but narrowly missed an eagle putt as both players carded birdies
 
Coming to the 18th hole one shot behind March, Scorse dropped his chip shot to within five feet of the hole. March's approach sailed wide right into a greenside bunker and eventually got up-and-down for par - but Scorse drained his birdie putt, forcing the two-way playoff.
 
Going to 18 for the first hole of the playoff, Scorse and March both scrambled for pars.
 
On the next playoff hole - the par-4 10th - both players matched long two-putt pars. Returning to 18 for the third time on the day, both players missed the green in two, but while Scorse managed to chip up to 4 feet of the hole, March sailed over the green with his chip. March eventually settled for a six, while Scorse drained his par putt to claim victory - and the 2017 RDGA Championship.
   
Lightning and heavy rain on Thursday forced a postponement of the second round of play, which was concluded on Friday. The Championship itself was cut from a four-round, 72 hole competition to three rounds and 54 holes, due to the delay.

Several other players in the field had good rounds on Saturday, with Kevin Peters and Patrick DiPasquale both posting the low rounds of the tournament, at 3-under-par 69. DiPasquale and Locust Hill member Kyle Downey finished in a tie for third place at 2-over-par 218 - with Downey leading the contingent of seven Locust Hill players who made the 36-hole cut to the final round.

The RDGA John Henry Ryan Gentleman in Golf Award, presented to RDGA
Rules Official Wilson Fitch, left, by RDGA Tournament Chairman Mike Sorce.
   
With his fifth RDGA District Championship title, Scorse is now in third place, all-time, on the past champions' list, trailing only Don Allen, who won six, and Chip Lillich, who won the title eight times.
 
During the awards presentation following the conclusion of the District Championship, tournament director Michael Sorce presented the second annual John Henry Ryan Gentleman in Golf Award.
 
Named in honor of the late John Ryan Sr., who passed away in 2015 and voted on by Championship contestants prior to the tournament, the 2017 RDGA Gentleman In Golf Award went to the RDGA's senior Rules official and past President Wilson Fitch.
 
"I don't know what to say," said a surprized Fitch, who has been volunteering for the RDGA for more than 30 years. "I'm very honored to be recognized by the players and the RDGA."

The Rochester District Golf Association thanks the entire Locust Hill Country Club staff and membership for their hospitality to the RDGA and District Championship competitors all week - and a special thanks to General Manager John McCurdy, clubhouse manager Pete Rogers, head PGA Professional Steve Barber and Superintendent Rick Slattery for their tireless efforts throughout the Championship.

Irondequoit Country Club's Jeff March tees off No. 10 during the final round of the 2017 District Championship at Locust Hill as Oak Hill's Jason Schantz watches, left. March finished runner-up to Jim Scorse following a three-hole playoff.

Rochester District Golf Association

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