WATERTOWN — John Bufalini had already seen one five-shot lead evaporate in the 36-hole final of the Watertown City Championship. However, he didn’t let it happen again when he got another big edge.
Bufalini went on to win his seventh City championship with a 6-and-5 victory over top seed and defending champion Adam Brown on a picturesque Sunday at Ives Hill Country Club.
The victory ties Bufalini with Bernard “Bun” Quinn for the second-most City titles with seven.
“No. 7 is so special,” Bufalini said. “That’s pretty special to tie him on the all-time list.”
Brown, a two-time winner, had gotten off to fast starts in each of his match-play victories. However, it was Bufalini that raced out to a five-shot lead on the first eight holes of the final. Brown then reeled off five straight wins to even up the match on the 13th hole during the morning session.
“The good thing about getting into a hole like that as early as I did is that I had plenty of time to dig out,” Brown said. “I put myself in a great spot for the afternoon, but John played great.”
Bufalini made an adjustment in his putting game to regain the lead. He sank a trio of critical putts from long distance on the 14th, 15th and 18th holes to get a two-shot advantage back before the start of the afternoon session.
“I went back to my old putting style at the 14th hole this morning,” Bufalini said. “I rolled that one in on 15 and thought maybe this was going to work.”
The afternoon round started off the same way as the morning did where Bufalini raced out to an early lead. He drained an eagle-putt on the par-5 fourth hole to lead by four.
“It’s all about confidence and momentum, and once that one went in, I really felt comfortable with the putting stroke,” Bufalini said.
Brown got to within two shots, but Bufalini used his short game with great chipping and solid putting to keep Brown from getting back into the match again.
“I made some nice chips today, but I didn’t get a couple as close as I wanted to,” Bufalini said. “Overall the short game was better today.”
The lead stretched to five once again after the 29th hole, and Bufalini grew the lead with another long birdie putt on the 30th hole. Brown wasn’t able to win the 31st hole and Bufalini sealed the victory.
“Adam’s a great player and we always have good matches,” Bufalini said. “I know what he’s capable of.”
Despite the loss, Brown was pleased with his play over the past two years. It’s been some of the best golf he’s played over his career.
“I think my game suits up well to match play,” Brown said. “It’s nice to be back in the finals, and I think I defended the title pretty well.”
Bufalini received congratulations from long-time friend and 14-time champion Bob Hughes, who won this year’s first flight tournament, after the round. Bufalini remarked that Hughes is still the standard-bearer for local golf and no one will be catching him.
“That ain’t happening,” Bufalini quipped about catching Hughes. “He’s set the bar so high for all of us.”
Hughes beat Brian Phillips to take the first flight title.