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Headline: Jake Shuman Fires Competitive Course Record at Taconic Golf Club; His 7-under par 64 Steals Show During Round 1 of MGA Amateur Championship
For Immediate Release: July 11, 2016
Jake Shuman (middle) fired a course record and this trio of collegiate standouts (Peter French - left; Patrick Frodigh - right) were collectively 10-under par on Monday at Taconic GC.
Williamstown, MA — It didn’t take long for memories to be made and records to be broken at the 108th Massachusetts Amateur Championship.
During round one of the MGA’s marquee amateur event that features two rounds of stroke play and five rounds (over three days) of match play, Jake Shuman (Blue Hill CC) fired a competitive course record score of 7-under par 64 to set the pace at Taconic Golf Club.
Shuman, a rising junior at Duke University, carded seven birdies and zero bogeys on Monday to post a score that is three strokes better than the course record previously held by Bill Hadden and set during the 2016 club championship.
108th MGA Amateur - Day 1 Quick Links
“Controlling the trajectory and distance is huge on these greens,” said Shuman, who was named to the 2015-16 All-ACC Academic Team. “There is so much slope in them. I didn’t make a birdie putt over 10 feet today. Everything was inside of that, so it speaks to the ball-striking side of today.”
Shuman found an early rhythm and a clear comfort level on the historic Williamstown layout that was originally designed in 1927 by Wayne Stiles of Stiles & Van Cleek and renovated in 2009 by renowned golf course architect Gil Hanse of Hanse Golf Course Design, Inc.
On his first hole of the day – the 470-yard, par 5 1st hole – Shuman found the green with a mid-iron approach to set up a two-putt birdie. Two solid wedge shots on the 6th and 7th holes led to birdies and allowed Shuman to make the turn at 3-under par 32.
He continued his stellar play on the back nine which featured the three hardest playing holes on this day. Shuman played his final nine holes at 4-under par.
“When I got out of position, I made a couple of good eight-foot par putts which was great,” said Shuman. “I have been working hard with my coach [Brendan Walsh, head golf pro at The Country Club] and it worked out today.”
Shuman was also quick to credit the two competitors he was paired with on Monday, who are very familiar faces to the Needham native. After all, Shuman, Patrick Frodigh (Dedham C&PC) and Peter French (Maplegate CC) grew up playing the New England junior circuit.
“Playing with Peter and Patrick made it a pretty easy going day for us,” said Shuman. “It felt like a tournament but lower key because I know them and don’t have to go through the whole “who are you” kind of thing. It was fun.”
The familiarity clearly fueled a competitive fire in all three as the trio collectively played 10-under par golf on the day.
“I think that we were just feeding off each other a little bit,” said Frodigh, who was runner-up at the 2015 MGA Amateur Championship. “We were trying to catch the rabbit in front of us, whomever was leading the group.”
This year marks the third time Shuman has competed for the MGA Amateur Championship title. He missed the cut in 2015 one year after advancing to the semifinals in 2014.
“Playing well this week would mean a lot to me” said Shuman. “It would mean a lot to me to do something special here. When it comes down to it, it’s the state championship. It’s who is the best amateur in the state.”
If you didn’t know that a major MGA Championship was being held, you may have thought that Williams College was hosting another major NCCA Tournament on its campus.
After all, this year’s Championship Proper field features some of the most talented collegiate golfers from the Northeast. The names on the golf bags scattered around the putting green read like a “who’s who” of top collegiate golf programs.
University of Rhode Island, Duke University, University of Louisville, Johnson & Wales University, Elon University, University of Tampa, Tufts University, University of Connecticut, Old Dominion University, Dartmouth University, Sacred Heart University, Wake Forest University, University of Northern Texas, Trinity College, Boston College University, Bryant University… and the list goes on.
Shuman (20), Frodigh (21) and French (22) are perfect examples of the young talent that is coming out of the Bay State. All three competitors grew up playing in U.S. Challenge Cup, NEPGA, AJGA and MGA events and now they find themselves all in contention for the state’s top amateur prize after 18 holes.
“I think that it’s the movement of where golf is going,” said Shuman. “It’s getting younger.”
To Shuman’s point, the average age of this year’s field is 29.5.
On Monday, Shuman, Frodigh and French combined to play 10-under par golf. French was 5-under par through 11 holes and finished at 3-under par 68 for the day, while Frodigh turned in an even par 71. Shuman – of course – broke the course record with his 7-under par 64.
While Frodigh and Shuman are looking forward to another collegiate golf season in the fall, this year marks the final amateur season for French who will be turning pro later this year. It also marks his final chance to capture a title that he has been close to claiming in recent years.
In the past four years, French has advanced to the round of 32 (2012, 2014) and finished as a quarterfinalist (2013) and a semifinalist (2015).
“It’s the last one for me,” said French. “It’s coming down to the final stretch before heading into the professional side of things, but it’s definitely important.”
Frodigh, a rising senior at the University of Louisville and a Westwood native, advanced to last year’s finals where he was defeated by Nick McLaughlin at Oak Hill Country Club. Earlier this year, Frodigh finished T6 at the 2016 Massachusetts Open Championship.
While young in years, the significance of what is at stake this year has not passed them by.
“The chance to be number one in the state is awesome,” said Frodigh
It was a 90-mile drive that Robert Linn (The Ranch GC) may have thought twice about over the past week... but at 7:25 a.m. he was glad that he made the trip.
“I literally walked out of the parking lot and heard them calling someone’s name so I thought ‘somebody probably isn’t here’”, recalled Linn about the moment he was told that he was a part of the 2016 MGA Amateur Championship field. “Sure enough there was a guy going off at 10 and I was the first one out.”
Linn, the 2009 George M. Cohen MGA Senior Player of the Year, failed to qualify for Championship Proper this year but was one of 49 competitors who were part of an alternate pool.
Following sectional qualifying all players in the pool were randomly selected and ranked by number as alternates. Linn was “Alternate No. 16”.
“I figured that it was so far over here that somebody from far away wouldn’t come,” said Linn, who is a member at Berkshire Hills CC. “But actually the spot I got was from a kid from Waubeeka.”
When Linn woke up on Monday morning, all he knew was that No. 14 had been accepted into the field but he was hopeful that being on site in Williamstown during the morning hours would serve him well.
His hopes were realized when Taylor Bellemare (Waubeeka GL) did not arrive at Taconic GC for his tee time and Linn was the only alternate on site at the time.
“I was coming to sit on the first tee,” said Linn. “I had planned to be [at Berkshire Hills CC] yesterday and played with friends and had a place at Jiminy Peak.”
There would be no sitting or even a chance to warm up on Monday with that 7:30 a.m. tee time, but that did not keep Linn from posting a strong 4-over par 75 on day one.
“The only reason I wanted to get in this was because of the golf course,” said Linn, who did manage to secure a pull cart for the day. “I am not expected to win. I would like to make match play, but it’s a pretty long course for a guy my age.”
At the age of 62, Linn is the oldest player in the field (along with Cy Kilgore) and he was playing alongside two competitors – Stephen Hunt (CC of Wilbraham) and Troy Miller (Crumpin-Fox Club) – whose combined ages are 39.
“There are a lot of kids in this field,” said Linn. “These kids were outdriving me by about 50 yards. It was crazy, but I just tried to play my own game and that’s all you can do.”
On this day, Linn delivered highlights that any competitor – young or old – would enjoy. After all, he sent his 8-iron approach on the 402-yard, par 4 13th hole to a foot and then capped off his round on the 167-yard, par 3 9th hole with a tap-in birdie.
“It is probably easier because you just get out there and go,” said Linn of his no-warmup start. “There isn’t that hour or so when you are thinking about what you are going to do and hopefully you are going go out and just do it.”
And that’s exactly what Alternate No. 16 did on Monday.
Here is a rundown on the conditions and play on Monday, July 11.
Near perfect playing conditions. Partly cloudy with little wind (less than 7mp) and temperatures in the mid 70s all day. Visibility was clear and humidity levels were under 50%.
Kudos to George Pendergast, an MGA Past president and on-site rules official this week, for saving the day for one youth baseball player. An MGA Amateur competitor made his way to Williamstown but realized last night that his son’s baseball equipment was in the back seat of his car. Enter Pendergast who was finishing up his assignment on Monday in Williamstown and offered to drive the baseball equipment back to the Boston area. After all there is no crying in baseball. When not serving as a rules official or saving the day for young children, Pendergast is a head golf coach at Tufts University.
While the competitive course record heading into this week was a 67 posted by Taconic GC member Bill Hadden, one person on site this week - Josh Hillman - once shot a 63 from the member tees. In 2013, Hillman became only the fourth head golf professional in Taconic GC history. As part of his duties, Hillman also serves as head golf coach at Williams College.
For those unfamiliar with the Taconic GC layout, the 18th green is perched a scant 15 yards from the clubhouse patio and adjacent to a generous practice putting area. One competitor went a tad long with his approach, which sailed over the green, through the putting area and into a flower bed that protected the afternoon diners. The competitor received relief under the local rules and conditions of competition which included the flowerbeds. He dropped his ball at the nearest of relief with no penalty.
When Bob Linn entered the field as an alternate this morning, he became the second competitor in the field who was 62 years old. He matched Cy Kilgore as the oldest competitor in the field. However, if one digs deeper… the crown of oldest competitor remains with Kilgore as he turned 62 nearly nine months before Linn. Kilgore injected youth into this game on this day as he was joined all day by his 11-year-old grandson who served as his caddie.
Matt Naumec, 19, is a Wilbraham native who just completed his freshman season at Boston College. On this day, Naumec posted a score of 2-under par 69 but back in 2013 he helped to raise nearly $1,700 for The First Tee of Massachusetts as part of the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Leadership Links Program.
Gil Hanse, who completed the multi-million dollar renovation project at Taconic Golf Club in 2009, designed the 2016 Olympic golf course in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Hanse, whose Bay State renovation work also includes TPC Boston, The Kittansett Club and The Country Club, won the Olympic selection over Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Gary Player. He teamed up with Hall of Fame player Amy Alcott to build what is the first Olympic golf course since the sport was dropped after the 1904 St. Louis Games.
A total of five past champions are in this year's field. John Kelly (2014), Ryan Riley (2011), John Hadges (2008, 2010), Ben Spitz (2006) and Frank Vana, Jr. (2004, 2005).
Defending Champion Nick McLaughlin is not in Williamstown to defend as he became a professional competitor following the conclusion of his final year at the University of Virginia. McLaughlin did return to the Bay State last month to compete in the 2016 Massachusetts Open Championship where he finished T26.
Here is how they fared on Monday.
John Kelly (Twin Hills CC) – won this event in 2014. Today’s score - 7-over par 78.
Ryan Riley (Thorny Lea GC) – won this event in 2011. Today’s score = even par 71.
John Hadges (Thorny Lea GC) – won this event in 2008 and 2010. Today’s score = 1-under par 70.
Ben Spitz (George Wright GC) – won this event in 2006. Today’s score = 1-over par 72.
Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough CC) – won this event in 2004 and 2005. Today’s score = 3-over par 74.
Monday, July 11
First Round, 18 Holes Stroke Play
— Morning Tee Times Begin at 7:30 a.m.
— Afternoon Tee Times Begin at 12:00 p.m.
Tuesday, July 12
Second Round, 18 Holes Stroke Play
— Morning Tee Times Begin at 7:30 a.m.
— Afternoon Tee Times Begin at 12:00 p.m.
(The low 32 scorers continue on to Match Play Competition. In the event of a tie, a sudden-death playoff will be used to determine the final Match Play competitors.)
Wednesday, July 13
First Day of Match Play
— Round of 32 Matches Begin at 8:00 a.m.
(Remaining 16 move on to afternoon match)
— Round of 16 Matches (Afternoon)
(Remaining 8 move on to Thursday's matches)
Thursday, July 14
Second Day of Match Play
— Quarterfinal Matches Begin at 8:00 a.m.
(Remaining 4 move on to Semifinals)
— Semifinal Matches (Afternoon)
(Remaining 2 move on to Finals)
Friday, July 15
Third Day of Match Play
— Morning 18 Holes begin at 8:00 a.m.
— Afternoon 18 Holes begin 45 minutes following the conclusion of the morning round.
(In the event of a tied match, (a) the winner shall be decided immediately by a hole-by-hole playoff, and (b) the stipulated round is deemed to extend to as many holes as are required for a match to be won.).