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Katz returns to old stomping grounds, as a caddie

LEWISTON – Williamsville’s Jake Katz, arguably the most prolific local amateur golfer the past few years, was back at the Porter Cup this year, his fourth in a row. This time, though, he didn’t golf.

He was helping a friend. Katz caddied for North Carolina’s Ben Kohles, who finished the tournament tied for 18th at 3-under-par, in his last tournament as an amateur.

Katz turned professional last year and therefore gave up his status as an amateur. While he’s trying to make the PGA Tour again this year, Katz admitted he wasn’t ready to give up the tournament just yet.

“This tournament has meant so much to my amateur career that I wanted to come up and soak it up one more time,” he said. “This tournament just means a lot, so I wanted to be here and be a part of it.”

Katz, who finished 10th in the 2010 Porter Cup, has been working on his game all year both in Florida – bouncing between Tampa Bay, West Palm Beach and Boca Raton – and at Westwood Country Club. He said there are a couple Tour qualifiers coming up that he’ll be playing in, and the PGA Tour’s Q-School is also on his calendar in the middle of October.

While his game is strong on the links, Katz said he wasn’t the world’s best caddy.

“A couple times I actually handed him the putter head cover instead of the putter, so I’m still a player at heart, but it was fun,” Katz said. “I enjoyed it. Ben’s a great guy. It was a great week.”

As this was Kohles’ last amateur tournament – he’s turning professional and, like Katz, hopes to one day join the Tour – the 22-year-old cracked a beer after finishing the 18th hole.

“We’ve been buddies since we met,” Kohles said. “We were out there having fun, having a good time.”

Five local players competed in the tournament.

Clarence’s Matt Stasiak finished the highest of the bunch, tied for 67th at 11 over after a final-round 77. Buffalo’s Chris Covelli, a 25-year-old Mid-Amateur who graduated from Nichols in 2005, finished with a 73, and was just one stroke behind Stasiak at 12 over. Lewiston’s Michael Boss, who shot a strong 66 on the second day of the tournament, finished 14 over.

North Tonawanda’s James Blackwell fired his strongest round of the four-day tournament on Saturday. His 2-over 72 brought his final score to 26 over. Hamburg’s Brian Jurkiewicz shot a final-round 77 and carded 31 over.

The low Mid-Amateur in the field was 34-year-old Scott Harvey, a real estate broker from Greensboro, N.C. Harvey played in the final group Saturday.

He shot an even-par 35 on the front, but took a double bogey 6 on the par-4 14th hole and faded with bogeys on the par-3 16th and par-4 17th to come in at 39, 4-over for the day. He finished at 6-under 274 for the tournament, in a tie for 13th place. Harvey’s father, Bill, won the fifth Porter Cup, in 1963.

The William C. Campbell Award, presented annually to the player with the low aggregate score in the Porter Cup, Northeast Amateur and Players Amateur, went to Curtis Thompson. The 19-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., finished tied for ninth after shooting 7-under 273. He shot a combined 4 under over the three tournaments.

The number to receive an automatic invitation to next year’s field was 2-under 278, which was reached by 25 players. … The Senior Porter Cup will be held Sept. 5-7 at NFCC.

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