John Clare survived a challenge from Josh Holling and won his second straight Golf Max/Golf Pride Central New York Open June 3 at Highland Park Golf Club in Auburn. This is Clare’s third CNY Open title. The Camillus native won the event last year, his first as a professional, and in 2015 as an amateur.
Clare pulled into a tie with Holling after scoring a birdie on the 17th hole. The two young pros headed into the final hole tied at 3-under-par for the tournament. After Holling missed a birdie putt on 18, Clare sank an eight-foot putt for birdie to repeat as champion.
“When you make a putt to win, it’s the best feeling in the world,” Clare said. “Winning this isn’t getting easier. This was the hardest one, no doubt.”
Clare, who qualified for the New York State Open May 31, shot rounds of 71 and 67 in the morning and afternoon rounds, respectively, to finish at 4-under-par for a 138. Holling carded rounds of 71 and 69 to finish second at 2-under 140.
The Golf Max/Golf Pride CNY Open, which is open to amateurs, is the first major of the season for Central New York PGA players. The 36-hole stroke play tournament is a double point event for the CNY PGA Omega Player of the Year and Bradley’s Jewelers Cup standings.
Clare cashed $1,400 for the win while Holling, of Horseheads, earned $1,150 for second in his CNY Open debut.
“It was a hard day,” said Clare, who will use his prize money to enter some Mackenzie Tour qualifiers. “Luckily I made a couple of birdies at the end there and got it done.”
“I gave it a good run but John made a good putt,” Holling said. “It’s always good when it comes down to the last hole. I’d rather have it that way then a blowout.”
Clare struggled to consistently hit the fairways in windy conditions for most of the day. But he received a couple of fortunate bounces down the stretch.
“I birdied 17 and got a break on the trees there after missing the fairway and on 18 I got lucky again when the ball landed in a good spot after hitting a tree,” Clare said.
Holling, 26, held a one-stroke lead with two holes to play after Clare bogeyed 16.
Holling, who plays out of Corning Country Club, had the CNY Open circled on his calendar after he missed playing in the event last year on his home course.
“I was nice to come up here and compete again where I played as a junior. Then to be in the mix coming down the stretch is always fun,” said Holling, who will spend his summer competing in qualifiers for Web.com before heading south in the fall.
Two-time champion Dennis Colligan (Cazenovia Golf Club) was the first round leader at 1-under 70. Colligan finished tied for third with Dan Molter (Binghamton CC) at 1-over 143. Molter was the second round medalist with a 5-under 66.
Nick Barney, of Apalachin, was the top amateur finisher with a 5-over 147. Spencer Baum was second at 148.