Wilson rallies to fourth Craig Wood-Ray Randall title
LAKE PLACID – Montreal golfers Greg Wilson and Mickey Batten claimed championships Sunday in the Craig Wood-Ray Randall Invitational Golf Tournament.
Wilson earned his fourth Craig Wood division title in the two-day event, shooting a round of 77 on Saturday and following with a 74 Sunday to win by a stroke with a 151 total.
Batten, who first came to the annual tourney about 30 years ago and has won multiple championships, topped the senior Ray Randall division field with rounds of 71 and 78 and a 149 total.
Wilson started Sunday’s second round four shots behind first-day leaders Nick Politi and Kevin Nolan, who turned in 73s for a share of the lead Saturday. But by being patient and playing solid down the stretch, Wilson was able to come from behind to earn an unexpected win. He recorded two pars and a birdie on the last three holes to edge Politi, the tournament’s defending champion.
“I knew I had a chance starting the final round four shots back,” Wilson said. “My plan was just stay the course, play my game and whatever happens, happens. I’ve won this playing from behind before, and I just kind of snuck in there. I didn’t necessarily expect to win, so it’s really icing on the cake.
“I just come down here to have a good time,” Wilson added. “I love the golf course, I love being here this time of year and I love being out there with a great group of guys.”
On Sunday, the tournament started on the back nine with golfers finishing on the front, with the par-5 ninth being the final hole played. Politi had an opportunity to finish in a tie with Wilson and force a playoff had he been able to sink a long birdie putt on the ninth green, but two-putted to end with a par. He posted a 73 and a 79 for a 152 total.
“I’m not disappointed. I won this last year,” Politi said. “It would have been fun to go back-to-back, but it just didn’t happen. It’s tough to repeat with the quality of golfers who are out there.”
Nolan, who travels with a group of about 40 Kahnawake, Quebec residents each year for the tournament, couldn’t keep his hot pace on the second day. Nolan’s 73 on Saturday was the best 18-hole round he has turned in at the tournament since he first made the trek to Lake Placid for the event 18 years ago. He finished with an 81 Sunday for a 154 total, which landed him in fourth place, one shot behind third-place finisher and Lake Placid resident Brad Griffin, who carded a 74 and 79 for a 153 total.
“I’m thrilled. Saturday was my best round ever on this course,” Nolan said. “I’ve never really been in the hunt, so just playing in the last group of the day was a treat for me. I’m happy with my golf this weekend.”
Like Wilson, Batten also ended Sunday’s round with two pars and a birdie, but he already had a comfortable lead. He finished four shots ahead of the Ray Randall division runner-up Thomas Haefner, who had rounds of 73 and 80 for a 153 total.
“I always want to win when I play, but this tournament is more about spending a few relaxing days in Lake Placid,” Batten said. “Today, Tom and I were going back and forth, and I actually thought we were closer than we were.
“The course is beautiful, I love the mountains, and it’s a great getaway,” Batten added “My family and I come down here three times a year. I love to ski, I love to hike and I love the outdoors. I was just happy that I had a good finish today.”
The tournament, which is nearly 50 years old, has become an early September tradition for both area golfers and visitors alike. And for the most part, competitors were able to enjoy playing two wonderful days of weather, although Sunday’s round proved more difficult due to windy conditions.