Raman Luthra will have the chance in a few weeks to prove himself against the country’s best amateur golfers.
That’s good, because he’s got very little left to prove in Western New York.
Luthra again showed the steady form Monday that has made him a force on the area golf circuit. He won his second Buffalo District Golf Association title of the season, repeating as the men’s mid-amateur (players 25 or older) champion shooting a round of even-par 72 on the 6,568-yard Lancaster Country Club layout.
“You’re just playing the golf course, essentially,” said the 29-year-old Luthra, who plays out of Crag Burn. “If I happen to have the best score that day, it certainly means something, but you never go play a golf course that’s set up exactly the same every time, and you certainly don’t repeat what you do every time. I do look at it as validation. It’s not so much about proving anything to anyone, other than competing against the golf course.”
Playing in an afternoon shotgun start, the 68-player field went off mostly in threesomes. Luthra stayed true to his steady form on a windy, humid day in which he was the only player to stay at level par or better.
He made a pair of early bogeys, but then grinded out pars. A birdie on the par-5 16th hole got him to 1 over on his round, then he closed his round on the par-4 first hole, his final of the day, with another birdie to get back to even.
Luthra put his approach shot on the first hole to 6 feet left of the hole, then made the putt.
“I hit a good putt,” he said. “I knew I made it, which was great. It was probably the best putt I hit all day.
Luthra, who last month won the BDGA Tournament of Champions, hit 14 greens and did not three-putt in his round Monday.
“I got into some trouble early and was fortunate to make bogey,” he said. “Then I played pretty solid. The greens were pretty tough. They have pretty subtle breaks. I could see a lot of guys saying they didn’t make a lot of putts. I never got in any real trouble around the greens.”
Luthra finished with a one-shot victory over 31-year-old Mike Piccillo, who plays out of Lancaster. Piccillo finished second on a match of cards with a 73, the same number posted by Justin Sumbrum.
Piccillo’s round was torpedoed by a stretch of 3-over on the third and fourth holes. Still, it was a solid showing for a player whose work in the mortgage servicing industry does not allow him to play in many Buffalo District events.
“I wasn’t going to play, until I heard it was at Lancaster, then I was like. ‘I’m in,’ he said. “The issue is picking and choosing days off of work.
“Should I play more? Absolutely. … For myself, it’s a good confidence round. To be able to, in my mind, play a few holes poorly and still be able to post a 73 given the event, it’s satisfying. It’s what’s going to keep me coming back.”
Adam Boland’s round of 2-over 74 left him in fourth place. Four players – Billy Hanes, John Edwards, Derek Roller and Marc Siebert – finished in a tie for fifth.
Piccillo, who’s a 1-handicap, said the greens at Lancaster were rolling faster Monday than they have in recent weeks.
“I’ve been struggling as of late,” he said. “Looking back, I had these couple bad holes, and I was one shot from winning. I’m pleased with second place out of almost 70 guys.”
Piccillo didn’t have any trouble finishing second to Luthra.
“His name travels well, especially locally,” he said of the winner.
The next big event on Luthra’s calendar is the Porter Cup later this month. He earned a spot in last year’s field by winning the Buffalo District points race last season.
“It’s going to be a nice reality check,” he said. “I hope I play well to see how much better these guys are. For me to finish top 25 would be a great accomplishment.”
Make that another on a growing list.