|R. KARBOWSKI One-stroke win|
Karbowski’s play is magic, not tragic
Rick Karbowski borrows a line from musician Jimmy Buffett when describing the trials and tribulations of golf.
“Some of it’s magic and some of it’s tragic,’’ said Karbowski, who seems to be finding the magic touch with his putter lately, a key to his resurgence that included winning his first New England PGA Senior championship earlier this month.
The Berlin resident carded a 7-under-par 133 for the one-stroke victory at Okemo Valley Golf Club in Vermont.
“I hadn’t been playing well earlier this year,’’ said Karbowski, a former regular on the Champions Tour who occasionally takes a shot in the tour’s Monday qualifiers. “Then I took a lesson from my friend, Skip Guss, who teaches at the driving range on Route 9 in Southborough, and ever since then things have been clicking for me.’’
Karbowski, whose teammates at the University of Alabama in the mid-1970s included former US Open champ Jerry Pate, won the Massachusetts Senior Open and was fourth in the New Hampshire Open prior to the NEPGA Seniors.
“I had some confidence going for me and felt if I played my game, I would have a good chance of winning,’’ said Karbowski, a PGA instructor at the Auburn Driving Range, a job he thoroughly enjoys.
A force on the NEPGA circuit for decades - despite a long hiatus when he worked full time in sales - Karbowski was the oldest player (48) to win the New England Open in 2003 at Pleasant Valley. And the following year, he repeated the feat at the International in Bolton.
“Well, the golf ball doesn’t know how old you are,’’ said Karbowski, who birdied five of the last 10 holes at Okemo - including a deuce over water on 17 - to take home the hardware.
A standout on Auburn High’s state championship golf team in 1973, Karbowski later served as an assistant pro at Pleasant Valley until 1981.
“Bob Molt, the former head pro at Pleasant Valley, now operates the Solomon Pond golf range in Berlin,’’ said Karbowski. “If someone could hit a ball 800 yards there, it would land right where I live.’’
Karbowski, who won the Vermont Open in 1982 and stayed in the PGA ranks until 1986, then focused mainly on his job selling building supplies and hardware for the New Jersey-based Five Star Group.
However, after his New England Open victories, Karbowski returned to golf as an instructor at the Cyprian Keyes Golf Academy in Boylston in 2004.
The following year, Karbowski qualified for the Champions (formerly Senior) Tour, and in just his second tournament in Naples, Fla., was paired with legends Tom Watson and Fuzzy Zoeller in the second round (he bested both on the score card) and with Hale Irwin and Danny Edwards on the final day.
“It was one of my biggest thrills in golf,’’ said Karbowski, who won $55,000 for his fourth-place finish. He had hoped to play in the 2006
An arm injury that year resulted in what Karbowski described as “the start of a downward spiral in my career.
“The toughest part is that the Champions Tour is the hardest to stay on, and the injury was pretty discouraging,’’ he said.
After the injury (a pinched nerve) was properly diagnosed and treated, Karbowski and his wife moved to Texas where he won the state’s Senior Open.
Karbowski received a sponsor’s exemption for the 2007 Bank of America tournament, and playing before a gallery that included his 85-year-old mother Sally, finished seventh (and earned $45,000) by sinking a 7-footer on the final hole.
“I still have connection with the Champions Tour because I finished 15th’’ at the Qualifying School last fall, “which gives me Monday qualifying status,’’ said Karbowski, who returned to Massachusetts last year but lost his two sponsors because of the economic downturn.
“So just trying to qualify on Mondays means you’re spending $1,500 to $1,800 a week for a plane ticket, rental car, hotel, caddy, and meals just to get there,’’ he said.
“And if you qualify for the tournament, the cost can go as high as $3,000. I always felt more pressure on Monday, because once you get into a tournament, you’re going to get a check.’’
Karbowski has other goals before the season ends.
Later this month, he’ll play in the PGA New England sectional championship at the Pinehills in Plymouth, and in the National Senior Club Pro Championship in early October in Virginia, thanks to his victory at Okemo. A top-35 finish there means exempt status for the 2012 Senior PGA championship.
“I’m looking forward to all of them.’’
Andreoli signs pact with Chicago Cubs Shrewsbury’s John Andreoli, a Cape Cod League All-Star with the Wareham Gatemen, agreed to a signing bonus Wednesday with the Chicago Cubs, who drafted the former St. John’s High standout in the 17th round of this spring’s baseball draft.
He left Friday for Mesa, Ariz., for his physical and formal signing. He expects to play for about two to three weeks before returning to classes at the University of Connecticut, where he hit .317 as a junior outfielder last spring.
“It was tough to say goodbye Wednesday night to my Wareham teammates and coaches because they were in the second round of the playoffs, but they understood that’s what we’re all shooting for,’’ said Andreoli, who was signed by Matt Sherman, Chicago’s area scout.
“My dream is to play someday in Wrigley Field and this is the first step. I’m very excited and happy and I hope to complete my courses at UConn and graduate on time next year because my education is important to me.’’
Arnold takes step toward US team Needham’s Bill Arnold, who led all Boston College freshmen last season with 10 goals and 20 points in 39 games, just completed a stint at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp, an important step toward selection to the US National junior team.
The squad will compete in the 2012 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, taking place in this winter in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta.
Arnold, who starred at Noble & Greenough School and with the US National under-18 team, was a fourth-round draft pick of the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League last year.