LaMancuso, Roberts Win 53rd Italian-American Charity Golf Tournament

John L. “Judge” LaMancuso, left, and Mike Roberts pose for a photo at Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville after winning the 53rd Italian-American Charity Golf Tournament on Saturday. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

ELLICOTTVILLE — The words came haltingly at first from Mike Roberts on Saturday upon learning that he and his partner, John L. “Judge” LaMancuso, were the winners of the 53rd Italian-American Charity Golf Tournament.

And then, well, they didn’t stop.

“First off, it’s one of the toughest competitions you’re ever going to play,” an emotional Roberts said after he and LaMancuso posted a final-round net best-ball 64 and a 54-hole total of 196, one shot better than the overall runner-up team of Casey Digirolamo and Dusty Carlson. “Eighty-eight teams and some really good players.”

Then, with tears welling up in his eyes, Roberts said his emotions weren’t so much about winning, but rather “it’s about the relationships you build.”

For him and LaMancuso, who claimed their first I-A championship in 1999, their friendship dates back nearly three decades.

John L. “Judge” LaMancuso, right, shares an embrace with partner Mike Roberts after they won the 53rd Italian-American Charity Golf Tournament by one shot at Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville on Saturday. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

“You think about the 28 years we’ve played together and the memories we’ve had, the relationships we’ve built out of this and the relationship he and I have built,” Roberts continued. “I have five older brothers, but I’m closer to Judge than any of my brothers. We’re family.”

LaMancuso admitted that when he and Roberts won 25 years ago, “it didn’t mean a lot … because we thought, ‘Oh, it’s easy.'”

That feeling has done a 180 since then.

LaMancuso is 69 and played with a 16 handicap this weekend and Roberts is 62 and played with an 11. Therefore, the opportunities to win at Holiday Valley Resort in early June figure to get tougher and tougher every year.

Heck, LaMancuso said he didn’t even know they were in contention as they finished up their final round.

“(Roberts) was going to give me his letter of resignation this morning at breakfast, (telling me I) need to get another partner, that he was too old and that he wasn’t going to help me anymore.

“It all stemmed from a putt that was about a foot long above the hole on No. 18 (on Friday). He hit a beautiful birdie putt — like a 6-footer — and it hit the edge and went about a foot above the hole. He got over it … and missed it.”

Roberts, who played despite a badly swollen elbow, made up for it Saturday.

“He parred (18),” LaMancuso said, “and that was the difference between winning the tournament and being tied and in a playoff.”

LaMancuso added: “Mike played great today. He made some up-and-downs that made the difference. … If you would have told me at the beginning of the tournament that 14-under par would win, I would never have believed it. They made the course so difficult. … It was a tough track, and then the wind kicked up and it was really hard to play the course. I give credit to the pro and greenskeeper for setting the course up the way they did.”

And even though the longtime friends didn’t hit the ball as far as they once did, they were the ones who left Holiday Valley Resort with the championship trophy.

“God is good every day,” Roberts said.

Added LaMancuso: “Here’s one for the old guys.”


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