LEWISTON — When the 64th Porter Cup began Wednesday, there was already plenty of excitement, most notably both the men’s and women’s tournaments were competing simultaneously for the first time ever.
By its end on Saturday at the Niagara Falls Country Club, the drama which unfolded lived up to the expectations, on both sides.
With a chip shot from the bunker to birdie on the final hole, Juan Martín Loureiro finished with a score of 11-under-par 269 and became the first Argentinian to win the men’s division while Sarah Gallagher finished at 8-over 288 and became the fourth Canadian to win the women’s division, which began in 2013.
Scarsdale native Charlie Berridge finished two strokes behind Loureiro for the lead and Sanborn’s Anthony Delisanti finished in third, three strokes off the lead. Sarasota Florida’s Noah Kumar, who entered after leading the second and third rounds, finished tied for fourth with India’s Shubham Jaglan and four behind.
The women’s field behind Gallagher featured a three-way tie between fellow Ontarioan Ella Weber, Eustis, Florida’s Julia Towne and Forest Hills’ Amelie Phung, all two strokes behind. Ottawa’s Haley Yerxa and Augusta, Georgia’s Mia Sessa (Yale) finished tied for fifth and three strokes off the lead.
The first from his country to win the Porter Cup, Loureiro was the only player in this year’s field to finish under par in all four rounds, including a 65 in the final round. After shooting just one birdie through the front nine,the 20-year-old tallied three birdies on the back nine to help secure the win, including on the 18th hole for the second straight round.
Loureiro said he was “very emotional” about the last shot, which he needed to make to secure the win against a tough pairing with Sanborn’s Anthony Delisanti and Sarasota, Florida’s Noah Kumar, who had entered the final round at the top of the leaderboard.
His first win in the United States since 2021, Loureiro gave a giant fist bump towards the crowd once the last shot rolled into the cup and in.
“I’m feeling very good,” Loureiro said through a translator. “I’m very happy about this tournament.”
Not only were his pairing partners still in the hunt, the amateur also had to keep an eye on the pairing ahead of him with Porter Cup first-timer Berridge and veteran Juglan still in the mix, causing at one point, a five-way tie at the top of the leaderboard.
Like he has through his career thus far, the young golfer stayed in the present moment during “every single shot” and kept an “all-around” positive mindset. Loureiro has more tournaments to look forward to this year, including the Monroe Invitational July 26 – 29 in Pittsford. But for now, the win in Lewiston is one he’s looking forward to celebrating.
“We’re very happy, my family (and) me,” Loureiro said, adding he would like to defend his title next year. “This (journey) will continue and I’m so proud of this tournament.”
Delisanti, the hometown player, said it was tough to come up “just short” after a grueling week. The Niagara Wheatfield alum bogeyed on his eighth hole but bounced back and birdied three times leading into the final three holes, where he shot par the rest of the round.
Delisanti called Loureiro’s bunker shot to win “unbelievable” but admitted he left too many opportunities on the table to take the win himself.
“I had a good amount of looks on the front (nine), it just didn’t go in today,” said Delisanti, who will also compete in the Monroe Invitational. “It just didn’t go in today, so that’s how it goes sometimes. So just got to keep your head down and keep playing well and keep grinding.”
Niagara Falls’ Paul Kudela recorded four birdies in his final round and finished tied for 47th overall. Tonawanda’s Ryan Edholm shot par eight times on the front nine, birdied on the 14th hole and finished the tournament in a six-way tie for 32nd place.
Gallagher fends off field, final-round woes to win
Gallagher, meanwhile, led since the first round when she shot a 68 and had experience playing in Lewiston as this was her third time competing in the classic. After entering Saturday with a five stroke lead ahead of the field after she shot 1-over Friday, watched her lead disappear as she double-bogeyed twice and bogeyed thrice on the front nine.
But after asking her mom to go get her a hot dog heading into the back nine, the soon-to-be Ball State sophomore recovered and birdied on the 11th and 13th holes, after briefly sharing the lead with Sessa, who also birdied on the 11th hole. Even with a pair of bogeys on 16 and 17 and par on the final hole during the passing shower, Gallagher said it was great to win the Porter Cup after experiencing all kinds of conditions on the course the last four days.
“I definitely didn’t play the way I was hoping but the front nine was really rough,” said Gallagher, a Blue Mountain, Ontario native. “I just got off to a bad start… (The back nine, I) got it back to normal and try to do my best to fight back. I knew it was gonna be close, so I kept going.”
With members of her family on hand to watch, Gallagher joins some history with previous winners Brooke Henderson (2014), Josee Doyon (2016) and Katie Cranston (2022). Cranston, who now competes at Auburn, is someone Gallagher grew up with competing on the junior circuit.
“It feels really great to be another Canadian to win the trophy, especially being so close to home,” said Gallagher, who intends to defend her title next summer. “… It’s great to kind of keep that legacy going with Canadians.”
Fifteen-year-old Lily Zhang, of Williamsville, shot a 77 and finished the tournament in 12th place. Clarence’s Rosalie DiNunzio (Indiana State) and Victoria Leach (Stetson) and East Aurora’s Gwendolyn Yarnall finished the tournament 17th through 19th respectively. Williamsville’s Amanda Gaffney (SUNY Cortland) finished 5-over par Saturday and ended the tournament 22nd overall.