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What a week! With the celebration of the first professional golf tournament hosted in Casa de Campo- the DR Open -it felt as if the entire resort buzzed with golf mania, even more so than usual! Yesterday following an impressive last minute come-back, on hole 72 and a three hole play-off, American Michael Buttacavoli was crowned the champion.
The excitement of the DR Open began last Wednesday May 14th, as the ProAm golf tournament teed off around the Teeth of the Dog with the participation of more than 100 local golfers and professionals. After a very exciting morning and what seems to have been the game of their lives, the Central Romana team of Juan Velasquez, Julio Zeller and Carlixto Gabriel playing with Nelson Ledesma took home the trophy awarded later that evening. Meanwhile also that same evening, Pete Dye, alongside the Casa de Campo resort, Cesar Rivera, Maximo A. Pellerano and Marco Midence “Moñoño” were inducted into the Dominican Golf Hall of Fame. Click here for photos and the full story.
Michael Buttacavoli teeing off on hole #16, Teeth of the Dog
The following day, Thursday May 15th, the excitement started to build as the 144 competing professionals teed off around the Teeth of the Dog, and as the 72-hole tournament progressed from Thursday to Sunday that excitement continued to build, until on Sunday a crowd of more than 100 gathered to watch as the Rick Cochran III and Michael Buttacavoli fought for the title in a nail-biting three-hole play-off.
The final round started with Rick Cochran III as the clear favorite to win. Consitently ranked within “Los Cinco”- the top five leaders of the tour – Rick Cochran III, with perhaps the longest drive on the tour and having finished in second place no less than 4 times, looked set to finally become a trophy winner. However, 26-year old Michael Buttacavoli, arriving at hole number 12, 6 strokes behind, refused to admit defeat, until on hole #18 of the Teeth of the Dog, the last hole in the 72-hole championship, Buttacavoli made a beautiful birdie that brought him in 12 under par, while Cochran ended badly with a bogey.
The two players went back to hole #18 for the first play-off which ended in a bogey for both. Following which they teed off on hole #9, which starting with an outstanding 400 yard drive from Cochran, to which fellow professional Chris Gilman who was watching with me at the time, commented “I can’t even begin to fathom that”, it looked like the championship was about to come to an end. But yet again Michael Buttacavoli surprised us, and following a nice birdie for both they were back at the 18th tee. The championship finally then came to an end with every golfer’s nightmare- a seemingly perfect putt that skims the hole and pops right back out -resulting in yet another bogey for Rick Cochran III, and victory with a par for Michael Buttacavoli.
The crowd then gathered to congratulate our winner, Michael Buttacavoli, and watch as he received his prize. Taking part in the prize-giving ceremony was Juan Cohen, president of FEDOGOLF (the Dominican Golf Federation), Peter Bonell, Chief Marketing Office for Casa de Campo, Daniel Hernandez, manager of the Casa de Campo hotel, Gilles Gagnon, Casa de Campo director of golf, among others.
Also to be congratulated is Dominican George Riley, who as the best amateur of the DR Open was awarded a trophy alongside Michael Buttacavoli.
Principal photo by Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR
The following collection of photos were taken during the final round of the DR Open in Casa de Campo played on the Teeth of the Dog: