Nolan Ditcher’s tendency to play close matches finally came back to haunt him Friday.
The Randolph native fell to eventual champion Will Thomson on the 19th hole in a one-hole playoff in the semifinal round of the International Junior Masters held at East Aurora Country Club.
“It was a good, competitive match,” Ditcher said. “There’s always things you can look back on and wish it went better. What happened, happened.”
Ditcher played close matches throughout as it took him 18, 18 and 17 holes, respectively, to knock out his first three opponents.
The semifinal match against Thomson was no break from the drama.
Down one on the 17th hole, Ditcher sank an estimated 30-foot putt to tie the match. On the 18th hole, he made up for a poor second shot by chipping out of the rough to within five feet of the hole.
The chip shot sent the match to a playoff where Ditcher bogeyed to bow out. The final hole was Ditcher’s 72nd of match play – more than any of the other semifinalists to that point. However, his adrenaline wouldn’t allow him to feel fatigued.
“I guess you find your second wind out there eventually,” he said. “I don’t really notice (fatigue) until after the round. I just try to stay focused the best I can coming through the last holes because I know it’s pretty easy to slip and get tired but I do my best.”
Kevin Borowicz hoisted a trophy Friday afternoon, but it wasn’t the one he originally had his eye on.
The Grand Island High School graduate won the Bronze Flight of the International Junior Masters tournament Friday.
Borowicz was placed in the lowest flight after shooting a disappointing 170 in the two medal qualifier rounds. Borowicz took a lesson from coach Frank Garcia on Wednesday and his play turned around immediately.
“The first few days were pretty much a disaster,” Borowicz said. “I got a quick lesson Wednesday night, and I got things back on track.”
None of Borowicz’s four matches took the full 18 holes as he was able to guarantee victory in 15, 16, 11 and 17 holes, respectively. He was, 2-up, in the final match against Anthony Muscato to earn the title.
Borowicz, who plans to play at Greensboro College next year, had his sights set on a better finish but knows rough rounds are part of the game.
“The goal coming in was to win,” Borowicz said. “I really love this golf course. I just couldn’t believe what happened the first two days. But what can you do? It’s golf.”
Last year’s tournament champion, Trevor Ranton of Waterloo, Ont., was unable to repeat as he fell to eventual runner-up Blake Gerber. He fell behind by four on the front nine and wasn’t able to work his way back.
“He didn’t make any mistakes in the front nine whereas I just really didn’t do anything right,” Ranton said.
He took advantage of two Gerber bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes to move within two but bogeyed on 13 to move the deficit back to three.
With his championship hopes hanging by a thread, Ranton tried for a bold move on 15, but failed.
“I just wanted to make a birdie on 15 and went into the bunker and tried to be real aggressive on that putt,” Ranton said. “I thought it was one of my best chances to get one back so I ran that putt a little harder than I wanted to and I missed one coming back.”
The putt allowed Gerber to take the match, 4-and-3, knocking out the reigning champ.
“I just really couldn’t get anything going,” Ranton said. “I had a good first hole and then from there I was scrambling a lot. I couldn’t really hit any greens.”