Jon Renza of Cortlandt Manor tees off on the first hole during the final round of the Rockland County Amateur golf tournament at Spook Rock Golf Course in Suffern Aug. 7, 2012. ( Seth Harrison / The Journal News )To view a galler of photos from Spook Rock, click here.
By Mike Dougherty
SUFFERN — While the next win came slightly off the beaten path against players who generally don’t have deep competitive résumés, Jonathan Renza wasn’t getting caught up in the details. He was just happy to be holding a trophy for the first time in two years.
The 20-year-old from Cortlandt closed with a 3-under 69 and won the 39th Rockland County Amateur Championship on Tuesday at Spook Rock with a 6-under 138 total.
Nobody else was even close. Billy Sovak took second with a 1-over 145 total. It was the first win for Renza since he captured the Westchester Amateur in 2010.
“Man, has it been that long?” the junior at Rutgers asked.
After the best summer of his competitive life, the former standout at Fordham Prep headed off to college and was told he needed to make a swing change. Renza is a feel player, and he never got comfortable with the alterations.
He eventually abandoned the new approach, decided to go back to a proven swing and has been slowly regaining confidence.
“I just had to get the mental aspects of the game down, trust my swing and go from there,” said Renza, who caddies on weekends at Trump National-Westchester and works on his game and competes during the week.
He’s shown up on a couple of leaderboards this summer, but hasn’t found a way to stick.
“It’s just been a hole or two each round that’s killed me,” Renza said. “At the state open, I went 80-73 with two triples. You take those away and I’m good. I would hit one errant shot off the tee and then a double or a triple would ruin my round.”
He took command of this championship on Monday, opening a three-shot lead.
The competition largely faded in the second round as the greens began to dry out and gain speed.
“I just played conservatively,” Renza said. “I probably only hit four drivers this round, and then I would play to the middle of the green.”
None of the golfers knew where they stood until the scorecards were handed in, but Renza was pretty certain there was plenty of wiggle room after he carded three birdies and one bogey on the front side. He got to 6-under with a birdie on 11, then missed three more from inside of 10 feet on the way in.
“It was a steady round, I just have to get the putter going,” Renza said. “I didn’t feel that nervous. A couple of times off the tee, I was like, ‘Just get it down the middle.’ They weren’t the best swings, but everything worked out. … It feels good to play well before I go back. I feel really confident now. The last two weeks I’ve been right around even-par or just under, so hopefully I can take this back to school.”
Sovak was the runner-up for the second year in a row.
“I did the best I can,” he said. “You can only go so low. You can’t worry about what anyone else is shooting. It’s the lowest I’ve shot in competition, so I couldn’t expect to do any better.”
Ryan Hom was third with a 146 total. Jackie Barnes and David Prowler finished in a fourth-place tie at 147.