PURCHASE — Unlike most sports, where athletes usually hit their prime in their 20s, golf is a game in which age is often rendered meaningless.
Rob Labritz has been proving that over and over this summer.
The director of golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills is playing the best golf of his life in 2016, with previous wins at the Westchester PGA, the Westchester Open and the New York State Open.
On Wednesday, he added to his trophy case with his fourth win of the year, claiming the Metropolitan Professional Championship at The Golf Course of Purchase.
“It feels great,” Labritz said. “My game is going to take me some places. I’ve got to figure out how we’re going to do that, but there are some doors that are going to start to open. I’m a late bloomer. I’m 45 and my eyes are set on the Senior Tour, but I also have four years before I get there. I’d like to do some damage somewhere and make some money.”
Labritz ran away with the title by shooting 14-under for the tournament, seven strokes better than the next closest competitor. He shot under 70 all three days on the par-72 course, finishing with a 68 on Wednesday.
“I kind of separated (on Tuesday) with a 66, and then I made five birdies my first six holes (on Wednesday),” he said. “That kind of pushed me over the edge. I put it on cruise control.”
Carl Alexander, the golf pro at The Golf Course of Purchase, is an old friend of Labritz. They were grouped together on Wednesday, and Alexander acknowledged that he’s seen Labritz take his game to a new level.
“It’s motivating to see that he continues to get better,” said Alexander, who tied for sixth place at 3-under. “He’s hitting the ball so nicely. Every shot looks like it’s right at the flag. The driver is just absolutely crushing it, and it’s fun to watch. He’s been working hard at his game, so it’s nice to see that it’s paying off.”
Brian Gaffney of Quaker Ridge Golf Club was a surprise second-place finisher after beginning the final round at even-par. He shot a tournament-best 65 on Wednesday to finish at 7-under and catapult up the leaderboard.
“I think I got the most I could out of my round,” Gaffney said. “I have not been hitting the ball very well lately, and my expectations were very low going into the round. I just tried to slow down my swing. That really seemed to help.”
The top 12 finishers qualified for next summer’s PGA Professional Championship at Sunriver Resort in Oregon. If they finish in the top 10 there, they’ll get a chance to play in the 2017 PGA Championship at the Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina.
Labritz played in the most recent PGA Championship at Baltursrol in New Jersey, where he missed the cut. But with the momentum he’s been gaining recently, he’s hoping that his best golf is yet to come.
“My confidence level is really, really high,” he said. “I’m striking the ball great, my putting his been good and my short game has been pretty tidy. I’m looking forward to competing, but I have a few days off here. I’m looking forward to going to the Cape and drinking a few beers first.”
Metropolitan Professional Championship
Fairview Country Club and Golf Club of Purchase
1. Rob Labritz, GlenArbor 68-66-68-202
2. Brian Gaffney, Quaker Ridge 70-74-65-209
3. Ben Polland, Deepdale 70-70-71-211
4. Anthony Casalino, Innis Arden 67-72-73-212
4. James Ondo, Apawamis 71-72-69-212
6. Carl Alexander, Purchase 69-71-73-213
6. Anthony Aruta, North Shore 71-71-71-213
6. Kent St. Charles, Willow Ridge 69-73-71-213
9. Mark Brown, Tam O’Shanter 74-70-71-215
9. Grant Sturgeon, Winged Foot 71-74-70-215
11. Paul Dickinson, Atlantic 71-76-69-216
11. John Guyton, Wheatley Hills 74-69-73-216
11. Tyler Jaramillo, Saint Andrew’s 70-70-76-216
11. Patrick Langan, Purchase 67-75-74-216