PAWTUCKET, R.I. – Tyler Cooke, UConn’s 2016-17 men's golf co-captain, rolled in a dramatic 12-foot birdie putt on the 54th and final hole Wednesday to win the Rhode Island Stroke Play championship, sponsored by the Rhode Island Golf Association, at Pawtucket Country Club.
Cooke (Warwick, R.I.) was under par for all three rounds of the tournament, shooting a 7-under 68-65-67=200 to capture the title by one stroke over Rhode Island Junior Champion Patrick Welch.
Cooke, who plays out of Wannamoisett Country Club, shot a 4-under 65, which tied for the low round of the tournament, Wednesday morning in the second round to move into a tie with Welch at the top of the leaderboard, with Brad Valois two strokes behind. The three staged a neck-and-neck-and-neck battle throughout the final round in the afternoon.
Cooke never lost at least a share of the lead during the final 18, but he and Welch were still deadlocked as Cooke approached the 18th hole, a 379-yard par 4, with Welch playing one group behind. Cooke crushed his drive down the left side of the fairway, stopping just 60 yards short of the green. He pitched to within 12 feet and calmly nailed the putt to the dead center of the cup for a birdie 3.
Welch followed by also reaching the green in two, but his 35-footer slid past the hole, clinching the title for Cooke, over the original 109-player field.
Cooke, who finished second in the qualifying for the R.I. State Amateur two weeks ago before bowing in match play, has won the RIGA Four-Ball Championship twice while teaming with his brother-in-law, Bobby Leopold, but this was his first individual state championship.
Cooke, who played on the UConn men’s ice hockey team before switching to golf as a sophomore, played in nine events for the Huskies in 2016-17, averaging 75.0 for 25 rounds. He had four Top 20 finishes, twice finishing in a tie for 11th place. He helped the Huskies earn three tournament championships and record eight Top Five finishes in 11 events.