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Headline: Two Bay State Golfers - Mark Turner and Andrew McInerney - Advance to 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship
For Immediate Release: June 20, 2016
2016 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship Qualifiers: From left to right: Andrew McInerney, Mark Turner, Patrick Welch & Brandon Gillis
Keene, NH — There may be another two weeks until the Fourth of July, but there were plenty of fireworks at Bretwood Golf Course Monday, the site of the U.S. Junior Amateur sectional qualifier.
Massachusetts natives Mark Turner (Gloucester, MA) and Andrew McInerney (Natick, MA) captured two of four qualifying spots to the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, being held at Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn. the week of July 18. Both shot a combined 2-under par 142 in 36 holes of action to tie for third place and lock up their ticket to Tennessee next month.
Against a field of 81 that included players from the U.S., Canada, China and Singapore, Turner and McInerney fought temperatures that neared 90 degrees to earn their spot at Championship Proper.
Turner rebounded from a 2-over par 74 in the morning round by shooting a 4-under par 68 in the afternoon to net a qualifying spot. His second round included four birdies and nothing lower than par en route to his finish. He concluded his day with a total of seven birdies and 25 pars on the Geoffrey Cornish and Hugh Barrett designed course.
The soon to be St. John’s Prep senior said, “Right at the start of the second round, I came out with a few birdies in a row and I was feeling pretty good. I was hitting my targets pretty well.”
That sentiment was most obvious when he hit back-to-back birdies on the par 4 11th and 12th holes to go from 1-over to 1-under. That began a streak of five straight holes where Turner played even par golf before he finished on the 378-yard par 4 18th by making his fourth birdie of the round.
Meanwhile, McInerney shot scores of 1-under par 71 in both the morning and afternoon rounds to finish with a score of 2-under par 142 on the day. The Xaverian Brothers HS rising senior followed his four-birdie performance in the morning frame with a pair of birdies and an eagle on the afternoon to complete his round.
McInerney’s eagle on the 525 yard dogleg-style 5th hole, and the only one to be hit by any of the other 81 players Monday, brought him from 2-under to 4-under and guided him as he finished the remaining 13 holes.
“When I made that eagle, I thought I had a chance. I hit a nice cut up and over the bunkers, about 220 [yards] and I hit a nice four-iron about 10 feet [from the pin]. Then I had a nice little left to right putt.”
The two will be among the field to compete for the title of the nation’s top junior amateur player. Brandon Gillis of Nashua, H.H. placed first overall with a 6-under par 138 performance on Monday while Rhode Island’s Patrick Welch shot a 4-under par 140 to take hold of second place.
Additionally, Jack Boulger (Walpole, MA)registered a 1-under par 143 on the day to become the sectional qualifier’s first alternate. He will be joined by Caleb Manual (Tophams, ME), who was named second alternative after firing an even par 144 over 36 holes.
Bretwood Golf Course was the first of two sectional qualifiers to be held in New England ahead of the 2016 US Junior Amateur Championship. On Tuesday, June 21, 11 other Massachusetts natives will compete at Torrington Country Club in Goshen, Conn. for the same opportunity.
At Monday’s U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier at Bretwood GC, the first of two New England sites holding tournaments for the national contest being played in Tennessee from July 18-23, the Bay State was well represented with Massachusetts’s golfers making up more than 50 percent of the field.
Of the 81 players competing for one of the four qualifying spots available Monday, 45 of them held residence in Massachusetts, 28 more people than New Hampshire, whose 17 competitors were second most in the field Monday.
Why so many, you ask?
One of the key reasons as to why the field included so many Bay State natives was due to success of youth golf in Massachusetts.
According to Shawn Bennett, the MGA's manager of championships & member services who assisted in the operation of Monday’s qualifier, the foundation of Massachusetts’s golf is one of the main reasons that we are seeing success at the junior level.
“Over the last several years, more and more clubs throughout the state are seeing the benefits of incorporating youth into the game of golf. Whether hosting youth clinics or supporting the many programs put on by the MGA, we are seeing the results of those efforts.”
Throughout the golf season, the MGA hosts several events directed towards incorporating youth into the game of golf. Between the many amateur qualifiers and championships, to the annual MGA father and son tournament, to golf events that teach fundamentals, there are many ways that youth are getting involved and improving their skills as players. The fact that Massachusetts is so well represented in tournaments, such as the U.S. Junior Amateur qualifiers, are the results of those tournaments.
Additionally, there has been an increase in the number of Bay State participants because of the junior golf program put on by the MGA. For more than 100 years, the MGA has run a popular junior golf program dedicated to providing opportunities for both boys and girls interested in playing golf. That, with the recent introduction to the First Tee of Massachusetts Program in 2003, has led to a surge in the number of youth participating in golf in Massachusetts.
The aforementioned First Tee Program, which began in Norton, Mass. when the MGA purchased MGA Links at Mamantapett, a par-3 18 hole course designed specifically for youth golfers, has since added four locations throughout the state in an effort to maximize youth participation while teaching the game and its values.
Now, youth golfers can enjoy the First Tee of Massachusetts program in Boston (William J. Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park), Hyannis (Hyannis Golf Club), Lynnfield (Reedy Meadow Golf Course) and Springfield (Fenway Golf Range).
With the surplus in programs and events focused on increasing youth involvement in golf, it should come as no surprise that we are seeing the success rates of Massachusetts golfers as high as it is.
Regardless of how Massachusetts’s golfers finish at Monday’s US Junior Amateur qualifier at Bretwood, or at Tuesday’s qualifier at Torrington Country Club in Goshen, Conn., there is no question that youth golf in the Commonwealth continues to grow, and that the future is bright.