Palladino Outbattles Heestand, Borisa Right to the Finish to Win 2012 Cleveland Amateur Championship

Nick Palladino 2012 Cleveland Amateur
Nick Palladino hits to the 8th green Sunday in the 2012 Cleveland Amateur at Manakiki

Cleveland Amateur Golf ChampionshipsRoller coaster.

First round 67-shooter Matt Heestand looked fully in-charge early until a shocking four-putt-meltdown on the par-5 sixth hole let everyone back into the game.

AJ Borisa disappeared on the front side, then made a late-in-the-day birdie-barrage come-back to get right back into the mix with a chance to win on the final hole.

Heestand righted the ship on the back nine with a couple of birdies and regained the outright lead in the tournament on the 16th hole with an aggressive tee shot, but went backwards from there.

And there were other crazy rise-and-fall stories from a host of players.

In the end Nick Palladino played the steadiest golf of all, stayed off the roller-coaster the rest of the field decided to ride, and finished with three solid pars to win the 2012 Greater Cleveland Amateur Golf Championship at Manakiki on Sunday.

The golf course offered up plenty of birdie opportunities and many players took advantage at certain holes, but the tricks and troubles were lurking, too — even on the greens. How crazy were the possibilities for wild swings in scoring at Manakiki on Sunday?

Niko Anagost made six birdies and an eagle — to go along with a double-digit score of 10 on the eighth hole — to shoot the wildest 74 ever.

Kory Oslie got it to 1-under par for the tournament after back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13 on Sunday, but then finished bogey-bogey-par-birdie-triple.

Joe Zabukovec was staring a Sunday round 3-under in the face to put the heat on the leaders, but missed three short putts on the final three holes to fall out of contention.

Eventually, it came down to the final group of three.

Heestand turned the front nine at 3-over par 39 after his sixth hole putting mishap, and Palladino took a one shot lead heading into the back nine.

But that’s when Palladino put one foot on board the roller coaster himself with his first two shots on 10. He blocked his tee shot right into the trees just 80 yards off the tee, but fortunately the ball came down out of trouble. Then from a juicy lie, he almost hit his layup second shot onto the right hillside again, at about 100 yards away from the hole. But a nice straight bounce away from trouble, a wedge to the center of the green from there, two putts, and Palladino stayed off the coaster — but was now tied with Heestand.

The pair traded birdies and pars on 12 and 13, and both made solid up-and-down pars to the tricky left-corner hole location on 14.

Matt Heestand 2012 Cleveland Amateur
Matt Heestand lobs his chip shot from the front left corner of the 14th green at Manakiki

Heestand seemed to take charge after hitting the front left corner of the green on the 215-yard par-3 15th, as Palladino missed just short right. Palladino chipped to six feet short, as Heestand eyed up his birdie. But then Heestand hit it 4-feet short, too, and both missed their par putts.

Palladino laid back on the 16th hole with his tee shot, and hit the center of the green from 150 yards away. Since the hole was downwind, Heestand played more aggressively, driving just short of the right greenside bunker. His wedge flip to five feet (video below) and a smooth roll for birdie put Heestand one shot ahead with two holes to play, as Palladino two-putted from 15 feet.

But just as quickly as he gained the lead, Heestand ran into trouble. He ticked the left tree off the tee shot on 17, had a billy-goat stance on his second that hit the greenside left trees, then another billy-goat stance for his 40-yard-pitch third shot that ended up 25-feet short. Bogey.

Palladino hit the fairway on 17, but his second shot went over, long-left. A great chip that almost went in, a tap-in putt, and Palladino and Heestand were tied once again headed to the 18th tee.

All the while, AJ Borisa hung around and made some great par saves (especially from well over the 15th green!) and notched a couple of birdies where a player should make birdie at Manakiki. After a crushed tee shot, a laser wedge from the fairway, and a tap-in birdie on the 17th, Borisa went to the tee at 18 with a chance to sneak in a birdie at the last — and maybe even win the tournament!

Borisa piped his tee shot down into the canyon. Palladino followed with a smash to the right that flew over the 15th green and ended up perfectly open. Heestand hit his tee shot last, and it looked okay until the wind hit it and pushed it right, dropping it on the edge of the trees and high grass on the hill right of 18 fairway. It didn’t seem far offline, but in reality it was in some tall grass under the trees and required a punch-out.

Heestand punched out to the fairway and faced a 125-yard shot. The wind kicked up as he hit, and that third shot came up just short of the green.

Borisa hit his second shot on 18 past the hole and just in the right fringe, and he had his birdie opportunity should Palladino misfire.

But Palladino did not misfire; instead, from only 70 yards, he hit a perfect shot that landed right next to the hole and scooted up the green to 15 feet above. As simple a putt that could be left to get down in two, under the circumstances.

Heestand made a great par-save chip but it didn’t go in as needed, and his second bogey in a row cost him the championship.

Borisa hit his birdie putt next, and it had a chance but slipped past the edge. Borisa missed the come-backer to cost him a tie for second place, finishing alone in third at even par 144.

Palladino two-putted from the center of 18 green, almost holing the birdie effort, and tapped in for a tournament total of 2-under par and a one shot victory in his first win at the Greater Cleveland Amateur Championship.

Much of the final round action described above can be seen in the Video Gallery for the 2012 Cleveland Amateur. Also don’t forget to check out the Photo Gallery as well!

Nick Palladino 16th 2012 Cleveland Am
Nick Palladino shows some smooth tempo on the 16th tee in Sunday’s final round


Manakiki Golf Course, Willoughby Hills, Ohio | Par 72
Saturday, August 11 – Sunday, August 12, 2012

[First round canceled due to heavy rains; event shortened to 36 holes.]

Palladino, Nick6973142
Heestand, Matt6776143
Borisa, A.J.6975144
Sotka, David7471145
Steven, Brad7471145
Borlin, Mark7670146
Hamori, Kevin7274146
Zabukovec, Joe7572147
Furlong, John7473147
DiPalma, Alex7473147
Yeo, Bryan7275147
Oslie, Kory7275147
Wetzel, Jake7573148
Schaefer, William7573148
Anagost, Niko7474148
Metzendorf, Dan7177148
Minko, Paul7673149
Lahnan, Larry7674150
Barber, Doug7575150
Riemer, Jonathan7476150
Cebula, Tim7774151
Stephens, Jessie7774151
Yacovazzi, Anthony7378151
Pak, Charlly7775152
Puch, Joe7775152
Heran, Scott7676152
Foss, Mark7379152
Bates, Zachery7677153
Miller, Jerry7380153
Fried, Marc8074154
Schustrich, Robert7876154
Bojc, Phil7579154
Predovic, Dan8174155
Skirpstas, Pete8076156
Elber, Jack7977156
Barbour, Billy7878156
Burrows, Ryan7680156
Milo, Charles7482156
Stephens, Brooke8077157
Blackburn, Steve Jr.8077157
Tyrell, Patrick8077157
Brinkman, Alex7780157
Andrews, Ryan7681157
Tischler, Brian7880158
VanDeMotter, Brian8079159
Campana, Michael7980159
Woznicki, Paul8080160
Smith, Tim7684160
Klaric III, Michael7585160
White, Mark8576161
Donofrio, Dave8081161
Duda, Derek7982161
Niedzialek, John8379162
Bergold, Bill8280162
Bedell, Steve8182163
Okeson, Chris7885163
Osysko, Aaron8482166
McGuire, Sean7889167
Richardson, Kevin8386169
Frey, Matthew8386169
Foster, Ryan8290172


  1. August 13, 2012

    I played with Michael Saturday, Very well mannered I was impressed.

  2. August 12, 2012

    Michael Campana shot a 79 in the first round and an 80 in the final round. A fine young man and an excellent golfer. My son and I followed him and his father/caddy both days. Perfect example on how to conduct yourself on the golf course, both father and son.

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