Pitch Riley figured his local knowledge at Tedesco Country Club would bode well for him during yesterday’s annual Northeastern Conference Golf Open.
That theory proved correct — but not without a fight to the finish from Danvers’ Wes Milbury.
Both Riley and Milbury shot 4-over par 74s yesterday, forcing the NEC Open’s first-ever sudden death playoff. There, Riley putted in for bogey to win the hole and the match.
”I’ve played tons of rounds on the front nine here at Tedesco during my four years here and that definitely helped,” said Riley, a 17-year old Marblehead High senior who holds a 4.5 handicap. “We also played a good practice round on the back nine yesterday, which is a lot harder than the front nine, and that helped, too.
”Knowing the speed of the greens was my biggest advantage,” Riley added. “They were super quick today, like they have been all year, and a lot of guys had trouble with it. I was mentally prepared.”
What he couldn’t have been prepared for was the charge that the 15-year-old Milbury put on over the final 10 holes.
Milbury, a Danvers High sophomore who had never played Tedesco’s back nine, he stood at 5-over par after 8 holes before proceeding to birdie 9, 10, 11, 13 and 15, sandwiched around pars on 12 and 14. His mark on the 11th was probably his prettiest shot; on a short par-4 with an elevated green, Milbury hit a pitching wedge to within three feet of the hole for his birdie.
”Pitch and I have played against each other a lot; he was my only two losses during the season,” said Milbury, a 3.7 handicap out of Ferncroft. “I knew he was an excellent match player.”
Riley didn’t think anyone was close after his 1-over par 35 on the front nine, but started hearing about Milbury’s exploits over the final nine holes.