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September 16, 2017: 
Clark & Eric Rustand are the 2017 John R. Williams champions, Kircher and Jaros win the Senior Championship Story>

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Clark & Eric Rustand are the 2017 John R. Williams champions, Kircher and Jaros win the Senior Championship

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Eric (L) and Clark Rustand, the 2017 John R. Williams Four-Ball champions
Eric (L) and Clark Rustand, the 2017
John R. Williams Four-Ball champions

Clark and Eric Rustand of Tucson, AZ won the 55th Annual John R. Williams Four-Ball Invitational, shooting a final-round 67 on the famed East Course at Oak Hill Country Club to clear the field by three shots.

The Rustands held the lead after opening with a 6-under 64 on the West Course, then were caught by the team of Jamie Miller (Silver Creek, NV) and Billy Hanes (Elma, NY) after slipping to a one-over 71 on the East Course while Miller & Hanes had the low round of the day, a 3-under 67.

The final round was again played on the East Course, site of three U.S. Opens, two U.S. Amateurs, three PGA Championships, and the Ryder Cup. And the course held its own as expected, yielding only 14 under par rounds of the 89 played in rounds two and three.

The final group started slowly, with none of the four players making a birdie on the front nine. This should have let the chasing pack get closer, but none of the five teams starting within two shots of the lead could make any sort of move. Only the Toronto, Canada team of Mark Elgner and Craig Sinclair played the front nine under par, shooting a one-under 34 to get within a shot. But bogeys on two of the next four holes set them back, and they never got close again.

The Rustands took control of the tournament just after the turn, making three straight birdies starting at the 10th. As Miller and Hanes were falling back and no one else was making a move, suddenly the lead was four shots and although no lead is safe on Oak Hill’s East Course, Clark and Eric were able to comfortably hold on and complete a three-shot win. Their final-round 67 gave them an eight-under 202 total.

The Chicago team of Kyle Moran and Charlie Waddell birdied three of their last five holes for a 68 to pull into a second-place tie with the 2015 champions, the Canadian team of Garrett Rank and Simon McInnis, who closed with a 67.

The 2014 champions David Poteet and Mike Cromer from Georgia finished in a tie for 14th at even par 210.

SENIOR DIVISION

John Kircher and Mike Jaros
John Kircher and Mike Jaros, 2017
John R. Williams Senior champions

In the Senior Division, John Kircher (Pittsford, NY) and Mike Jaros (Endicott, NY) erased a three-shot deficit in the final two holes to steal a win from Mark Chylinski (Pittsfield, MA) and Jim Mueller (Altamont, NY).

Kircher and Jaros started the day with a one-shot lead over Chylinski and Mueller, but a disastrous finish to the front nine knocked them out of the lead. From the 5th to the 9th, they dropped four shots to complete a four-over 39 which left them three behind and in third place.

When Mueller birdied the 10th and the Georgia team of Allen Peake and Chris Hall birdied the 11th, Kircher and Jaros were four shots behind Chylinski and Mueller, and two shots behind Peake and Hall. A birdie at the 11th righted the ship, but then each team put together a string of pars on the back nine, and Kircher and Jaros looked safe going into the 17th.

At that point, they were two shots ahead of Peake and Hall, and three ahead of Kircher and Jaros. Playing ahead of the final two teams, Peake and Hall birdied the par-five 17th to pull within one. Then Kircher and Jaros got just what they needed, a two-shot swing, with an eagle 3 pulling them within a shot and tied with Peake and Hall.

Peake and Hall bogeyed the final hole to effectively end their chances of a win. Holding a one-shot lead, Chylinski and Mueller followed suit, and when John Kircher birdied the final hole, it was a second-straight two-shot swing and a victory for the Kircher/Jaros team.

Kircher and Jaros finished with a one-over 71 for a 4-under 206 total, one shot ahead of Chylinski and Mueller, who also closed with a 71. Peake and Hall shot the low round of the day, a 69, to finish solo third at 208.

Two teams tied in Mid-Am Division, Kircher and Jaros lead Seniors

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ROCHESTER, NY (September 15, 2017) – Clark and Eric Rustand of Tucson, AZ shot a 1-over 71 today on the East Course, after opening with 6-under 64 on the West Course at Oak Hill Country Club. They are now tied at 5-under with Jamie Miller and Billy Hanes. Miller and Hanes posted a “low round of the day” tying 67 on the East on top of a 2-under 68 on the West. (Mark Elgner and Craig Sinclair did the same, and stand 2 shots back at 3-under.)

After opening up on the West Course, the field moved over to the famed East Course for rounds two and three. The East Course has been the host site of three U.S. Opens, two U.S. Amateurs, three PGA Championships, and the Ryder Cup.

The 36-hole cut in the Championship Division fell at 3-over 143.

SENIOR DIVSION

Rochester legend John Kircher and his partner Mike Jaros shot a fine round of 66 on the East Course; they are at 7-under for the tournament and hold a one shot lead over Mark Chylinski and Eric Mueller. The cut in the Senior Division also fell at 143.

Clark & Eric Rustand Lead after Round One; Two Teams Tied Atop Senior Division

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ROCHESTER, NY (September 14, 2017) – Clark and Eric Rustand of Tucson, AZ shot a 6-under 64 on the West Course at Oak Hill Country Club to take a two shot lead after the first round of the John R. Williams Invitational.

Going early off of the tenth hole, the Rustands combined a quick start with a fast finish. They started off with two straight birdies, then added another on the par-3 17th, then birdied three of their final five holes to post a bogey-free round.

They lead by two shots over three different teams. Dan Russo (Hagaman, NY) and Tim Saur (Victor, NY) went out in the afternoon and made five birdies against a lone bogey to finish at 4-under 66. They were matched at that score by the Chicago team of Kyle Moran and Charlie Waddell, and the team of Blake Gianinny (Rochester, NY) and Jeff March (Penfield, NY), who posted their 66s in the morning.

Russo is a two-time champion of the John R. Williams, having won in 2003 and 2007 with partner David Hayes.

Six teams shot 67 to sit just three shots back, including the 2015 champions, Simon McInnis and Garrett Rank of Canada.

Twelve more teams are at two-under 68, with the 2014 champions David Poteet and Mike Cromer from Georgia in that group. In all, 25 of the 57 teams broke par in the first round.

The shot of the day was struck by Jonathan Dunlap of Toronto–he made a hole-in-one at the 14th hole of the West Course. He and his partner Paul Gortnar finished at two-under and tied for 11th.

Two other eagles were made during round one: Connor Salanger with a hole out on the par-four 12th, and Mike McGuire on the par-five 11th.

In the Senior Division, two teams are tied at the top at 4-under 67. Mark Chylinski (Pittsfield, MA) and Jim Mueller (Altamont, NY) combined three birdies with an eagle by Mueller on the par-five 16th. They are joined by the 2013 Senior champions, the Georgia team of Lee Dennis and Mel Mendenhall, who birdied the first three holes they played en route to their 67.

Four teams sit just one shot back at 68, with two more at 69. In all, 11 of te 18 teams broke par in round one.

The local team of Mark Dugan and Tom Blank, who have won this tournament two of the last three years including last year, struggled to a two-over 73.

For rounds two and three, the field will move over to the East Course, site of three U.S. Opens, two U.S. Amateurs, three PGA Championships, and the Ryder Cup.

There will be a cut after 36 holes; the current projected cut is even par in the Championship Division and two-under par in the Senior Division.

Paul Azinger Announced as Guest Speaker at the John R. Williams Dinner

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Paul-Azinger

The John R. Williams Tournament Committee proudly announces that the guest speaker for the 2017 Williams will be Paul Azinger, the 17-time PGA tour winner who won the 1993 PGA Championship and was the winning captain at the 2008 Ryder Cup.

Zinger joins a list of recent guests that includes Nick Faldo, Tim Rosaforte, Curtis Strange, 1971 Williams champion Andy North, and John Feinstein.

Paul Azinger Bio

Paul Azinger’s professional career began in 1981. He spent almost 300 weeks in the top 10 of the World Rankings between 1988 and 1994. In the seven seasons from 1987 to 1993, he won eleven tournaments on the PGA TOUR. Following his breakthrough major championship victory, the PGA Championship at Inverness, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. After battling the disease for months, with intensive chemotherapy and radiation, he was able to return to golf and receive the Ben Hogan Award in 1995. This award is given to the professional golfer who remains active in the sport despite serious illness or physical handicap. Azinger’s comeback was fully realized when in 2000, at the age of forty, when he won the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Azinger’s life has also been marked with tragedy off the golf course. In 1999, his longtime friend and fellow tour member, Payne Stewart, was killed in a plane crash. Also on board were two of his closest friends and managers, Robert Fraley and Van Arden. This loss weighted heavily on Azinger and he gave a heartfelt eulogy at the memorial for Payne Stewart.

Possibly the greatest, and most rewarding, chapter in Azinger’s professional life began in 2006. In the fall of that year, he lobbied and was eventually given the captaincy of the 2008 US Ryder Cup Team. His selection was based on his new ideas for selection of the team, revamping the schedule, and looking at all aspects of the competition in a new light. The US Ryder Cup Team was victorious at Valhalla. It was one of the most exciting matches in golfing history. 600 million people watched Azinger lead the US to its first victory since 1999 after years of record losses in the event. His innovative strategy and changes are largely credited in providing the team with the best environment to succeed.

From 2006-2015, he served as the Lead Golf Analyst for ESPN. In January of 2016, he was named the Lead Golf Analyst for Fox Sports and the USGA Championships to follow. Paul enjoys many hobbies off the course. He is an accomplished Poker player and has played at the World Series of Poker on many occasions. He is also an excellent foosball player, as well as an avid fisherman, in his spare time. You can also find Paul enjoying his time with his sports cars and motorcycles. Paul, and his wife Toni, reside in Bradenton, FL near their daughters Josie (son-in-law, Sebastian) and Sarah Jean (son-in-law, Tim). They are the proud grandparents of Campbell and Houston.

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