Dave Adamonis Jr. knows his younger brother Brad’s golf game as well as anyone.
Growing up in Cumberland, the two siblings, a mere four years apart in age, spent endless hours on the links during their childhood years and beyond. Although more than 1,000 miles separate them now, they still keep in close contact, talking about golf and their personal lives.
“Even though Brad lives in Florida,” Dave said, “we still talk to each other every day.”
Adamonis Jr., 42, an Executive Director of the U.S. Challenge Cup Junior Organization, talked about his brother on Wednesday afternoon, just a day before the young Adamonis was set to tee up his ball at Congressional Country Club in Maryland for the U.S. Open.
Golf is a fun but often-brutal game where one can have all the tools, but if the mind’s not there the scores will escalate. Before getting his chance to play in his first major since turning professional in 1996, it’s been a game that hasn’t been too kind to Brad Adamonis over the last few years.
“For a while,” Dave said, “I don’t think golf was a fun game for him.”
The older Adamonis was talking about a particular stretch that began towards the end of 2009 season and most of 2010. It was a 1 ½ year-span where the 38-year-old golfer missed the cut in eight of his last nine PGA Tour events in 2009 and made just one of four PGA events and five of 15 Nationwide Tour events in 2010.
A lot of factors attributed to the tough stretch for Adamonis. His swing coach moved out west, he was in the beginning stages of raising a family and, most importantly, lost his father Dave Adamonis Sr.
Adamonis Sr., who succumbed to cancer on Oct. 10, 2009 at age 63, was a strong advocate of golf. He coached Johnson and Wales University in Florida for eight years, leading the team to the NAIA Tournament each year and winning a national crown in 2005. In R.I., he started the Challenge Cup and was the co-founder of the Ocean State Golf Magazine.
He was also one of Brad’s strongest mentors.
“He kind of lost a guy that was one-and-all for him,” Dave said. “It was such a valuable resource to have. Between switching his swing coach and my dad passing away, it took him a year and a half to get his game together.”
Brad Adamonis went into the 2009 season after his best year as a pro in 2008. He earned $862,413 that year with four top-25 finishes, including a second at the John Deere Classic in July. In that event, he fired three consecutive scores of 66 with a 71 on the final day to earn the biggest paycheck of his career at $369,600.
Speaking about his brother yesterday after finishing another Challenge Cup event, the Amateur Invitational at the New England Country Club in Bellingham, Dave Adamonis Jr. could see his younger sibling’s game change not too long after his dad’s passing.
A week after he was given the news that he would have less than six months to live, Adamonis Sr. got to witness his son one last time on the course when he tied for 55th at the Players Championship, opening up with a 66 on the first day.
“It really hit home to Brad that this would be the last golf tournament he would get to see him play,” Dave said. “I think that’s why he shot so well that first day.”
Adamonis Jr. believes things are starting to turn around for his younger brother. He has reunited with his swing coach Mark Wood, who has such pupils as Bo Van Pelt, an eighth-place finisher at this year’s Masters. He also has a familiar face carrying his bags, former Cumberland High teammate Chris Simmons. The two all-state players were on a Clipper squad that captured three state titles from 1988-91. Simmons, a former pro at Newport National, copped the individual title in 1991.
“A lot of good things are happening,” Dave said. “Golf is about confidence and feeling good. A lot of good things are happening right now.”
The young Adamonis tied for 36th at the Melwood Prince George County Open in Maryland on June 5, a Nationwide event. He missed the cut the following week despite shooting even par at the Rex Hospital Open, another Nationwide event.
In earning his slot as an alternate, Adamonis shot a 69 at the U.S. Open local trials in Coral Springs, Fla., for the first stage in May. At the U.S. Open Qualifier at the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland on June 6, Adamonis shot rounds of 66 and 71 to get into a five-player playoff.
After shooting his five-under 66 in the morning round, Adamonis had a 40 on his first nine holes in the afternoon. He re-grouped and had a succession of seven straight birdies on the last nine to get into the playoffs.
Dave Adamonis Jr. says his brother has potential to excel in the U.S. Open at the Presidential, a course he’s played on two other times in his career.
“He has a little background playing there, but the course has changed dramatically,” he said. “They added 500 yards.”
Adamonis Jr. considers his brother as one of the better ball-strikers in the game.
“He’s on par with the top 15 in the world,” he said. “His chipping and putting is solid. But the one thing that is holding him back is putting. The crazy thing is that was the best part of his game when he was younger. He knew when he wanted to turn professional that the emphasis was on his long game. But he’s going to have to chip and putt well to have a good week.”
Brad Adamonis will have several family members and friends rooting for him this week.
“We wish my dad was here to see this, but we know he has the best seat in the house,” Dave said. “I told [Brad], you learned so many valuable lessons from him, so let’s put it to work.”