ST. CHARLES – There was a cakewalk and a dogfight at Pottawatomie Golf Course Saturday.
In the cakewalk, Matt Daly defeated David Lanciotti, 7 and 5, to advance to Sunday’s championship flight match-play final in the annual St. Charles Men’s Tournament.
Daly, the defending champion, will face Chris Thomas in the finals. Thomas, 21, outlasted Chris Jones in a dogfight, 2 and 1.
Daly made a long downhill birdie putt on the fourth hole to quickly go 2 up in the match and he coasted from there.
“It was a good match,” he said. “I played pretty solid. He didn’t have a lot of room to breathe.”
With the exception of a 20-hole match in the quarterfinals, Daly has been breezing through the tournament. He credited much of his success to his friend and caddy, Dan Kovalsky, who couldn’t attend the marathon quarterfinal match.
“When I’ve got my caddy, I usually play a lot better,” Daly said. “He seems to calm me down and have my back.”
Thomas also relied on his putting to pull through against Jones.
“It was actually pretty scrappy today,” Thomas said. “Both of us didn’t have our A game, but we managed to put it together enough. I just got lucky on a couple of shots. The short game saved me a few times. That’s kind of the strength of my game.”
Thomas was 3 up at the turn, but Jones battled back to pull within one of Thomas heading to the 17th hole of the match, the 325-yard, Par 4 No. 8.
“I just wanted to make sure I closed it out on this hole,” Thomas said. “I made a really good up-and-down. … That sealed it.”
This is only the second time Thomas has played in the tournament.
“This is my home course,” he said. “This is where I grew up playing. I played the junior tournaments here, spent my summers here, getting dropped off and picked up at the end of the day. I’m pretty familiar with the course and comfortable with it. It is in very, very good shape right now. Denise Gillet-Parchert and her crew did a really good job of getting it in good shape.”
Thomas graduated from St. Charles North and is a student at Elgin Community College. He said he’s undecided about his post-ECC plans.
“I’m still trying to figure it out,” he said. “I might do a professional golf management program, so I could be like a teaching instructor or a facility manager at a country club, something like that.”
Thomas said a little over a dozen colleges and universities offer such a program.
“The closest one to here is in Michigan,” he noted. “It’s called Ferris State. But if I went to one, I would go south. I want to go where it’s warmer.”
Down to the finals
Here's a look at Sunday's flighted match-play finals at the St. Charles Men's Tournament at Pottawatomie Golf Course:
Championship: Matt Daly vs. Chris Thomas, 7:40 a.m.
A-flight: Jim Dierks vs. Clint VanLaningham, 7:30 a.m.
B-flight: Shawn Furrie vs. Wally Plywaczewski, 7:20 a.m.
C-flight: Rich Artz vs. Dave Davis, 7:10 a.m.
D-flight: Patrick DeVito vs. Bob Wulff, 7 a.m.