BRATTLEBORO, Vermont – It took six rounds, most played in blazing southern Vermont heat, but on the nicest day of the 2021 Vermont Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championship Cory Jozefiak outlasted the 2009 champion, Stephen Waite, 2&1 at the Brattleboro Country Club.
Sixty-six players competed in 90-degree weather for the Thursday, Aug. 12 qualifying stroke-play round, the field then cut down to 32 players for the beginning of the match play brackets on Friday. Bryan Adkison of the Lakeside Golf Club was the medalist, shooting a three-under 68 on the par-71 Brattleboro course, edging the 2020 Mid-Amateur champion Ryan Porter (Manchester CC), by one stroke.
Jozefiak shot even par and Waite a 77 to make the cut, while three Brattleboro members used the home course to their advantage (Jeffrey Houle and Ryan Kohler, 72; Jacob Miller, 76).
Those who advanced had to play two rounds on Friday and Saturday in hot and humid weather before the more temperate final round on Sunday morning.
Waite, playing out of Rutland Country Club, had some squeakers early on. He beat Chad Bullock (Mount Snow CC) 1 up in the Round of 32, before facing defending champ Ryan Porter in the afternoon, that match going to the nineteenth hole. The next day he beat Taylor Bellemare (Mount Anthony CC) 2&1 in the morning, and Andy Weigand (Burlington CC) in the afternoon, closing that match out early on the thirteenth hole, 7&6. (Bellemare was the runner-up in last year’s tournament at Neshobe Golf Club, meaning players from Mount Anthony CC contested the final each of the last two years.)
Jozefiak, playing out of Mount Anthony, had a relatively easier time of it before the final, his closest round. He bested Andrew Trask (Manchester CC) 4&3 and Jacob Miller 3&2 on Friday, Michael Coakley (CC of Vermont) 5&3 and Frankie Sanborn (Rutland CC) 3&1 on Saturday.
“The heat has been exhausting, even though I’ve been running in the woods with my wife to stay in shape. But the best thing has been that Frankie [Sanborn] loves to drive and has given me a ride each day. I guess tomorrow I’m driving myself,” said Waite after his Saturday afternoon win.
Indeed, Waite was a lone wolf out on the course on Sunday, while Jozefiak had a contingent of family members and friends cheering him on, including his caddy, Jared Lacoste. The two finalists traded holes in the early going before Jozefiak took three of the next four holes to go 3 up.
Most of the drama of the match unfolded in the middle six holes. Jozefiak bogied the eighth and Waite birdied the ninth to get within one at the turn.
Unfortunately for Waite his drive on ten went right and when he arrived at the ball, “I just spaced; I didn’t look at it. I just accepted my fate that I had a crappy lie and went ahead and actually hit a pretty good shot.” But when he walked on a few more paces Waite found another ball—his tee shot. It was an automatic loss of hole for hitting the wrong ball.
He was able to laugh it off after the round: “Hey, I’m an amateur, I’m bound to make a few mistakes.”
Waite almost holed his second shot on the difficult uphill par-4 eleventh and was again within one, but Jozefiak birdied the twelfth to go 2 up and that’s the way the match stayed until Waite ran out of holes on seventeen.
Waite was using a new Scotty Cameron putter that he said was as hot as the weather in the early rounds and early in the final. Jozefiak said, “This is the first time I’ve played Steve and it seemed like he was making every putt he looked at.” But the putter finally cooled off in the closing holes as Waite missed a few birdie opportunities and Jozefiak kept up his steady play, nearly holing a chip shot on the closing hole.
Both players complimented the host club. “The first few holes are really tough, but the course has been great,” said Waite. “[Superintendent] Dave Evans is just doing a tremendous job. They’re really fortunate to have him.”
“I liked the course a lot,” said Jozefiak. “I played here a lot in high school when Brattleboro and Mount Anthony played each other. It’s a super fun match play course because there are a lot holes that you can play in different ways. I enjoyed it.”
Look for both players to return next year, when the Vermont Amateur will be played at Brattleboro Country Club. And the course will continue its championship run in 2023 as well, when the VGA Senior Amateur comes to town.