By Brian C. Horey Contributing Writer
The Daily Star
---- — ONEONTA — It matters not if you’re talking about margin of victory or distance off the tee, Justin Harris is way ahead of the field.
Harris overpowered Oneonta Country Club, taking four strokes off of par Saturday and Sunday en route to a 10-shot victory in the Otsego County Amateur Golf Championship. Oneonta resident Harris earned his third straight Atchinson Cup title and won the 36th annual event for the fifth time in six years.
“I putted well and that kept me in front,” said Harris, who won last year’s tournament by 17 strokes.
Harris, 27, followed an opening-round 69 Saturday with a closing 71 on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at the par-72 OCC. He finished 10 shots clear of Bruce Miller and Mike Pugliese.
“Justin is just so solid,” said Miller, who won the last of his three Atchinson Cup titles in 2004. “You have to play your best to have a chance and none of us did.”
Unatego graduate Harris, playing in the final threesome with Miller and Richard Myers, consistently hit his drives 30-40 yards past those of his playing companions. That left Harris with short irons into the greens while his partners were hitting mid-irons.
And get this, Harris said his long game was a little off.
Harris started Sunday with a three-shot lead over Miller, who shot even-par Saturday, and a four-stroke cushion over Myers and Pugliese.
Through 12 holes Sunday, Miller stayed within shouting distance of Harris. He trailed by five shots with six holes to play, but Miller said his short game cost him any chance at a victory.
“I didn’t have a single chip on Saturday (when he hit 14 greens),” said Miller, who shot a 78 Sunday. “But Sunday, I just couldn’t get them up-and-down.”
Myers said he didn’t play for two weeks leading up to the tournament because of a sore back. That soreness returned when Myers attempted to match Harris’ power on the par-4 15th hole. He tried unsuccessfully to carry the creek and continued to struggle until the 18th. There, he knocked his approach shot to 3 feet for a closing birdie.
Upon seeing Myers’ second shot on 18, Harris jokingly suggested Myers might have exaggerated his injury. Myers shot a 78 Sunday to finish fourth.
Harris appeared on his way to shooting a second straight round in the 60s until taking a double-bogey on the par-5 17th when he pushed his tee shot into the water on the right.
Last season, Harris shot rounds of 69 and 68, so he’s been under par in his last four rounds in the Otsego County Amateur.
Allen Fassler and Mark Vergari earned victories in the first and second flights, respectively. Fassler shot rounds of 81 and 84 for a three-shot win over Teddy Trosset.
Vergari’s 96-94 led to a five-shot victory over Mike Davis in the second flight.
Thirty-two players participated in the tournament.
Results Saturday and Sunday from the 36th annual Otsego Country Amateur Golf Tournament at the par-72 Oneonta Country Club.
Justin Harris 69-71 — 140
Bruce Miller 72-78 — 150
Mike Pugliese 73-77 — 150
Richard Myers 73-78 — 151
Mike Schulte 79-75 — 154
Harry Schulte 81-79 — 160
Kahle Harris 78-82 — 160
Frank Liberati 80-83 — 163
Curt Bailey 82-81 — 163
Eric Hansen 83-81 — 164
Matt Burke 86-81 — 167
Nick Lambros 85-83 — 168
Cary Brunswick 84-84 — 168
Jim Bazan 86-86 — 172
Mitch Couch 84-NC — NS
Jim Ballantine WD
Allen Fassler 81-84 — 165
Teddy Trosset 80-88 — 168
Bruce Aaronson 86-84 — 170
Frank Gaisford 87-86 — 173
Paul Adamo 87-87 — 174
John Hammond 84-93 — 177
Al Puylara 90-87 — 177
John Chapman 93-94 — 187
Bo Whaley 98-94 — 192
Guil Terry 88-106 — 194
Mark Vergari 96-94 — 190
Mike Davis 104-91 — 195
Walter Friedel 103-100 — 203
Bob Hobkirk 111-100 — 211
Andy Spence 119-95 — 214
Chris Crisler 112-114 — 226ONEONTA - It matters not if you're talking about margin of victory or distance off the tee, Justin Harris is way ahead of the field.