There had to be a moment on the 13th tee of round four when Geoff Drakeford assessed the situation and said, simply, enough is enough. Despite three birdies in his first ten holes, bringing him to eleven-under for the tournament, the antipodean had managed to bungle his way to a bogey-double stretch on 11 and 12 and return hope to the chasers in the field. Beau Hossler was hot on his heels, in the midst of a two-under 68 that would find him in a t2 finish with Denny McCarthy at the end of the day. McCarthy, the University of Virginia senior, found the round he sought on Saturday, posting five birdies against no bogies that would leave him one agonizing stroke out of first place.
Drakeford righted the ship with a birdie on the 13th, the long par five. He played conservative golf from there to the 18th tee, where a bogey-four was enough to secure the title and the winner’s green jacket. After a three-under front nine, Beau Hossler was unable to sustain the thrust; he played the back nine one over par to finish at minus-seven, just behind Drakeford’s minus-eight. McCarthy birdied the final hole, but he needed ace to extend play.
Ben Eccles, a countryman of Drakeford, came to the seventeenth tee at eight under par, directly in the mix. The two toughest holes on the course were his match, though, as he finished bogey-bogey to drop into fourth place. Bobby Holden navigated an up-and-down round for three bogies, two birdies and one eagle to secure fifth place. David Boote, Tim Crouch and Trevor Sluman tied for sixth while Dale Brandt-Richards, Taylor Funk, Gavin Hall and Austin James rounded out the top ten with a four-way tie for 9th place.
Special recognition should go to Danny Yustin of East Amherst. Local participation has been lacking in recent years, as WNY golfers have struggled to place in the top half of the field. Yustin followed an opening-round 74 with two 68s and a 70 to tie for 18th place. Hopefully, his top-twenty finish will be rewarded with an invitation to the 2015 Porter Cup.