Maddalena cruises to Senior Porter Cup title

This year’s Senior Porter Cup division winners, from left: Steve Wilson (Super Legends), Peter Van Ingen (Legends), Marc Fried (Super Seniors) and Steve Maddalena (Seniors).

LEWISTON — For the first time since 2014, a player not named Hanzel or Decker added his name to the list of those who have won the Senior Porter Cup.

Steve Maddalena of Jackson, Michigan, put the finishing touches on a five-stroke victory with a final-round 72 Friday at Niagara Falls Country Club. Dave Bunker, a top contender from Ridgeway, Ontario, wasn’t able to put much pressure on him with a round of 70 and settled for second at 3-over 213. No one else was close.

Maddalena finished with a 2-under 208, triggered by a 4-under 66 on Thursday that was the best score of the tournament.

“It’s nice (to win), it’s exciting,” Maddalena said. “I was a kind of surprised actually because I wasn’t playing that well coming into this. But I putted really good and I hit a lot of big iron shots and I drove the ball straight for the most part. I was comfortable on the greens, they’re not crazy fast so you can be aggressive.”

Perhaps the best part of his victory is his expectation to rise into the top 30 among seniors in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. He hopes he can reach the top 25, which would earn him an exemption into next year’s U.S. Senior Amateur.

He fell from 35th recently after qualifying for match play in his state amateur “which I thought was quite an accomplishment, but I lost in the first round and that dropped me from 27th.”

• While Maddalena was essentially cruising to victory in the Senior Division, Marc Fried was grinding his way to a second consecutive championship in the Super Seniors (ages 65-69).

Trailing Randy King of Horseshoe Bay, Texas, by three strokes after 36 holes, Fried managed an “up and down” 68 that was enough to win by four strokes with a 5-over 215. King added a 75 to two 72s to finish at 219. John Armstrong, the 2016 champion, was another two strokes back.

Fried, from Solon, Ohio, started on the third hole in the shotgun setup and set the tone for the rest of his round by getting up and down from a bunker to save par. After a bogey at the fifth hole, he saved par from the sand at the par-3 seventh, birdied eight and saved another par at nine.

The turning point came when he birdied the 10th, 11th and 12th. A bogey at the par-5 13th slowed him down but not for long. He was short of the green on the par-3 16th but made par to maintain his lead.

“Seventeen is where I thought I was in trouble,” he said. “I was three strokes ahead of (King) for the tournament. I left my second shot in one of those big traps, didn’t get it to the green, left it in the rough and chipped it up and had a 6- or 7-footer for a bogey and hit it right in the center (of the hole).”

Eighteen was another short drive that dropped into a bunker but he “flopped it up to 18 inches” and made another par.

Armstrong, playing in the same threesome, was impressed. “His short game is so much better than mine. He was getting out of traps all day and hitting it close.”

“I don’t know, it was out-of-body,” Fried said of his final-round adventure.

How did this compare to the 2019 victory? “This was better,” he said. “I was grinding … I had to make every putt under pressure and they were quick and a lot downhill. I got it up and down except for five. I don’t know how many putts I had, but I made a lot of saves. I think I played better this time.”

• Peter Van Ingen made his debut a winning one in the Legends Division (70-74) with a final-round 70 for a 224. The Palm Beach, Florida, resident edged John Hamilton of Tuckahoe, New York, by a stroke.

• Steve Wilson traveled from California to win the Super Legends (75-plus) by 10 strokes over Walt Martin. Wilson established control with a 69 in the second round and finished with a 224.

LEGENDS NOTE: It’s not unusual for former Porter Cup players to return to play in the senior tournament, but they don’t wait 51 years to do so. 

Fred Clark, 72, now living in Mobile, Alabama, was among the Legends Division players this year and back in 1970 he created a stir in the second round of the Porter Cup.

As a 21-year-old senior to-be-at Purdue, Clark shot a 6-under 64 to tie the Porter Cup record at the time set Bill Harvey in 1963. His father surprised him by coming to the tournament from Florida and watched as Fred birdied seven holes, tharee in a row to start his round. “I paced off my putt on the first hole, 15 paces or 45 feet,” he said.

He told Niagara Gazette sports editor Bob Lowe, “I love the greens here. They are true and second only to those at Oakmont.”

Clark had the lead in the third round but rounds of 74 and 73 left him five strokes behind winner Howard Twitty in sixth place.

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