ATKINSON — Somewhere around Kingston, R.I., right now, URI golf coach Gregg Burke must be beaming.
The Rams dominated the Joseph F. Healey Memorial, laying claim to the top two spots in a brilliant final round here at the Atkinson Resort and Country Club.
Windham’s Nick Fairweather, a sophomore-to-be, fired a final round 73 to beat his soon-to-be teammate at Rhody, Atkinson’s Joe Leavitt, who was four over for the weekend (75-69-74—218). Round 2 leader Nick Maccario struggled down the stretch, settling for third at 219.
“It’s just a very big win for a confidence booster,” said Fairweather, hinting that this would give him the leg up on Leavitt in the fall. “I’ll square that stuff away with Joe some other time.”
On a day where the whistling wind, some speedy greens and a tricky pin placement or two caused most of the field to falter at one time or another, Fairweather was the mark of consistency.
“You have to keep grinding out there,” said the 19-year-old. “All three days, I struggled early, but I just kept working at it.”
A year ago in the Healey final group, Fairweather felt like he was on the outside looking in, with Maccario and Leavitt slugging it out for the title.
He wasn’t about to let that happen this time.
“I think I learned from it,” said Fairweather.
Two huge back side birdies, combined with a couple missteps from Maccario, enabled him to erase a two-shot deficit at the turn.
Fairweather’s birdie at 16 gave him a two-shot lead over the Bradford Country Club 21-year-old with two left.
Both made par at 17, and Fairweather found trouble with his drive on 18. But Maccario couldn’t capitalize, sending his approach into the water.
Fairweather smartly settled for bogey instead of any heroic attempt to make par and walked off 18 a champion.