Joe Tufo is getting married Aug. 11. Wouldnt a second City Mens Golf Championship be an excellent wedding gift?
Tufo survived a grueling 20-hole match with 11-time champion Bob Hughes on Friday at Watertown Golf Club, eventually eliminating Hughes in the quarterfinals with a beautiful trap shot to a foot on the second extra hole for a gimme birdie.
Tufo, who won his only city crown in 2003 and was runner-up last year for the sixth time in his stellar career, will play four-time winner John Bufalini in one semifinal at 8 a.m. today. Paul Ahlgrim will then take on semifinal newcomer Chris Denesha at 8:10 a.m. for a spot in Sundays 36-hole championship flight finals.
Denesha beat Michael Burgess 2 and 1 in a Friday morning quarterfinal.
Tufo said just getting to the semifinals is a real grind at this point in his career. It gets tougher and tougher, especially in a match against such a great player, he said. He made a lot of putts at the end to stay in the match, so sooner or later I thought he might miss one.
Trailing by a hole, Hughes kept the match alive with a clutch 10-foot par putt on 17 and salvaged a great par to force the playoff with a superb sand shot from behind the green and three-foot putt on 18.
Hughes also birdied the first playoff hole from six feet, as did Tufo.
Hughes had an almost identical sand shot as Tufo on the second playoff hole, from the right greenside bunker, but could get no closer than 10 feet. One of the city tournaments all-time great putters finally missed to see his tourney run end prematurely.
I just gave away too many holes, said Hughes, who has been limited in his practice and playing time with a bad shoulder. It feels a lot worse when you beat yourself.
While Tufo said he had a hard time judging the speed on his putts, his touch around the greens was superb.
I hit a ton of really solid chips today, Tufo said. The one on 17 I thought I made and then that one on 18 nearly went in, too. Thats what youve got to do when you just miss these greens.
Neither player was in top form on the front nine with Tufo shooting even par and Hughes going out in 2-over-par 38.
After both birdied the first hole, Tufo seized a 1 up lead when Hughes three-putted No. 4.
Tufo gave that back when his tee ball on No. 6 went left under a tree and he could only salvage a bogey 6.
Uncharacteristically, Hughes hit a poor pitch shot on No. 7 and made bogey. He then three-putted again, this time on No. 8, to fall 2 down at the turn.
Those (three-putts) drive you crazy because all you need is a par most of time to tie, Hughes said.
Hughes began the back nine with a birdie 4 on No. 10 to win the hole, then drew even when Tufos tee shot on No. 13 sailed into the deep bushes and Hughes won with a simple par.
Hughes hit an errant tee shot into the left hay on 15, eventually making a bogey. But Tufo couldnt take advantage, failing to get up and down from off the green.
Hughes hit way left on the par-3 16th hole, and missed a 15-footer for par. Tufo, meanwhile, had a routine two-putt par to take a 1 hole lead yet again.
With Tufo in for a par on 17, with a nice chip, Hughes needed to sink a 10-foot par putt to just to keep the match alive. Which he did.
Tufo hit a tree on his second shot to 18, then had to pitch under another tree on his third shot before nearly chipping in for par.
Hughes nailed an 8-iron right at the pin, but it went too far into the back trap. He feathered a sand shot to three feet and hit the putt in the center for force a playoff.
My game from tee to green was good all week, Hughes said. I really had high hopes today so its disappointing not to play better than that.
If Bobby has the most titles, I probably have the most runner-up finishes, Tufo said. Hopefully, I can keep it going, but its always tough against John (Bufalini).