Facing a lengthy but crucial 35-foot putt on the 17th green at the Suffolk County championship, Frank Amicizia told a teammate he was “calling in the bomb squad.”
Amicizia then dropped a bomb of his own, sinking the putt and pulling into a tie for the lead heading into the final hole. He then drained an eight foot downhill putt for birdie on the 18th giving him a one stroke victory for the Suffolk county individual title yesterday at Indian Island Golf Course in Riverhead.
“I picked my line stuck with it and it just dropped,” Amicizia said of his putt on 17. “I couldn’t believe it. It was surreal. The crowd went crazy but I think I went a little more crazy.”
On that very hole two years ago, Amicizia’s chances of qualifying for the state tournament came to a crushing end. Needing par on the final two holes to advance, Amicizia’s tee shot hit the top of a golf cart and trickled out of bounds. He would eventually double-bogey the hole and miss the cut by one stroke.
Unfortunately for the competition, there were no golf carts in his way this year.
The Kings Park junior entered the second round of the Suffolk qualifiers seven strokes behind the leader Christian Dolan of Islip, who had shot a qualifier record 65 in the first round. With Dolan struggling, Amicizia dominated the back nine, culminating with four birdies on the final four holes.
“When the pressure is on, he plays better and that’s very rare in sports,” Kings Park coach Jim Pappas said of Amicizia. “Some people come thru and others don’t, but he really came through.”
Amicizia’s final birdie gave him a two-day score of 142 and spared him a three-way playoff with Dolan, who left his birdie putt on 18 just short, and Bay Shore’s Jack Maerki, who sunk an eight-foot birdie putt on the final hole to tie Dolan with a 143.
“Going to the 18th for the county championship I was a little nervous,” Amicizia said. “Once I hit the ball down the middle I was a little relieved and then I put it about eight feet and made the putt. It was unbelievable.”
Also qualifying for the state tournament beginning June 5 at Cornell will be East Islip’s Brian Allmendinger (153), Longwood’s Justin DiMarco (154), Deer Park’s Kyle Morris (155), Smithtown West’s Tom Burton (155), Half Hollow Hills West’s Brandon Jaffe (155), and Ward Melville’s Tom Jannace (155).
Amicizia, along with A.J. Rapp (162), Joe Orlando (164), Nick Hein (168), Steve Wibben (169), and Mike Fletcher (171) combined for an aggregate score of 803 and led Kings Park to their second straight team county title. They edged out Half Hollow Hills West (810) and East Islip (817) to advance to the Long Island Championship against the Nassau winner on June 1 at Bethpage Black. Although it will be hard for Amicizia to top yesterday’s drama.
“It was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in my time of watching all sports,” Pappas said. “Everyone couldn’t believe it. They had the crowd around them because they were the final group. He wowed the crowd… It was Tiger Woodsian what he did today.”