By Mike Meiler
Niagara Gazette —
LEWISTON — Just over a week after winning the Niagara Falls Country Club's Club Championship, Lewsiton's Mike Boss hoped to carry that momentum into his third Porter Cup.
The 20-year-old who grew up playing golf off Mountain View Drive couldn't duplicate his success, though, shooting a 6-over 76 during Wednesday's opening round.
"It was tough," Boss said. "It was windy. When you're not hitting it all that great and it's windy, that's not a great combination."
"He usually hits the ball right to left," added Fred Gadawski, a family friend who caddied for Boss on Wednesday. "He's just leaving everything short. ... Everything's going to the right and he's not used to it. He's not used to hitting those bunkers like that. I'm not used to raking those bunkers."
Boss shot a 54-hole 218 at the Club Championship, which gave him an automatic bid into the 55th annual Porter Cup. He shot a 66 in the second round of last year's Porter Cup and has shown flashes of being able to hang with some of the nation's best amateur players.
Gadawski said there was some good to take out of the round.
"He kept it above water," he said. "Very well, the way he was hitting it today, he could've shot a lot higher. He held it together.
"He'll be fine tomorrow. It was a lot of nerves, there's always first-day nerves. He's only 20 years old. He's more than capable."
Boss was paired with 19-year-old Chase Koepka, a sophomore at the University of South Florida playing in his first Porter Cup. The trio was rounded out by Tim Mickelson, the 36-year-old golf coach at Arizona State and brother of a certain lefty pro.
Koepka led the trio with a 2-over 72, while Mickelson tied Boss at 76.
Mickelson hit the shot of the day, a left-handed chip with a right-handed 9-iron that holed on No. 13.
After sending his second shot on the par-5 into the trees along the right, he blasted an iron over the green that rolled up close to the base of a sapling. Out of options, Mickelson — a righty — decided to attempt a left-handed chip with a righty club.
His chip flew low but caught the top of a small hill on the back of the green and popped up slightly into the air. It hit the edge of the green and pinned itself between the flag and the inside of the hole, and it dropped when Mickelson pulled the pin.
The irony of a lefty Mickelson hitting an unconventional shot wasn't lost on him.
"I was just trying to find a way to make par or even bogey to be honest," he said. "And to be able to make a shot left-handed from 30 or 40 yards out was pretty cool."
The 17-year veteran, playing in his ninth Porter Cup, said the course was playing at a PGA level.
"The course is playing a lot more like it did in the late 90s, early 2000s," he said. "There's a little more rough, and the biggest thing is that the greens are much better this year than they've been the last couple years. They roll very smooth. The speed right now is actually a speed where you can definitely make puts.
"... The last couple years (there) wasn't much rough. It's nice to come back and play with some rough. It's sort of more like a PGA Championship-type course."Follow Gazette sports reporter Mike Meiler on Twitter @mikemeiler for updates on your local teams.