Headline: Match Play Field Now Set for 108th Massachusetts Amateur Championship; Round of 32 Will Begin at 8:00 a.m. at Taconic Golf Club

For Immediate Release: July 12, 2016

Peter French (above) and Jake Shuman (below) finished as co-medalists on Tuesday at the MGA Amateur Championship being held at Taconic GC.

Williamstown, MA — What began as a field of 144 was trimmed to just 32 following the stroke play portion of the 108th Massachusetts Amateur Championship, which is being held this week at Taconic Golf Club.

Those 32 competitors advanced through the 36-hole qualifying stage and will now look forward to the start of match play on Wednesday beginning at 8:00 a.m. This year's cut line fell at 5-over par 147 with the final six spots being decided in a nine-for-six sudden-death playoff on Tuesday evening.

CLICK HERE to view the 2016 Massachusetts Amateur Championship match-play bracket.

Weather permitting, the first two rounds of match play - round of 32 and round of 16 - will be contested on Wednesday in Williamstown. The quarterfinals and semifinals will take place on Thursday with the finale coming on Friday when the last two competitors standing will compete in a 36-hole final match.


108th MGA Amateur - Day 2 Quick Links


There seemed to be little doubt about whose names would appear at the top of the leaderboard. After all, from their first tee shots on Monday, Peter French (Maplegate CC) and Jake Shuman (Blue Hill CC) played like men on a mission.

For French, this year marks his final MGA Amateur Championship appearance (he plans to turn pro later this year), while Shuman is looking to continue what was a breakout sophomore season at Duke University this past spring.

The longtime friends were paired together for two days and matched each other shot for shot. In the end, French and Shuman claimed co-medalist honors with two-round scores of 3-under par 139.

“It was nice,” said French, who delivered an even par 71 performance on Tuesday. “Every year I am worried about getting a good seed and playing solid the first two days and figuring out the golf course. My plan is to just continue to do what I am doing and play solid golf. If you wind up being medalist, that is how it goes but playing solid is what it’s all about.”

French has a strong history in this event. In the past four years, he has advanced to the round of 32 (2012, 2014) and finished as a quarterfinalist (2013) and a semifinalist (2015).

“I was able to get off to a good start in the last two rounds,” said French, a recent graduate of Johnson & Wales University (FL). “For the past two days, Jake and I just fed off of each other. Today I was just worried about playing solid and doing the same thing I was doing yesterday.”

On this day, Shuman was coming off a Monday performance where he set a new Taconic GC course record of 7-under par 64. On day two he carded a 4-over par 75.

“You have to get through stroke play to get to match play so that was the first step in the process,” said Shuman. “Obviously I didn’t play the best I could play today. I wouldn’t even say that I played average. I played poorly, but at the same time all I needed to do was be in the top 32. It doesn’t matter what seed you are. Anybody can beat anybody at this point.”

The last time co-medalists were crowned at this event was in 2013 (Andy Drohen & Colin Brennan). The last time that a medalist went on to win the championship was 2015 (Nick McLaughlin).

“If you are medalist or 32nd, both people are playing tomorrow,” said Shuman. “Whether one of us is [seeded] one or two or two or one it is just a matter of what time we play and that’s it. We still have to go out with the same goal of beating of whomever we are both playing tomorrow.”

McNeill & The Fountain of Youth

While this year's match play field features a host of young and emerging Bay State talent, there are also those who have clearly found their own fountain of youth.

John McNeill (BAGS) is one of them. He is a 54-year-old associate department head and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) who plays his golf out of the Boston Amateur Golf Society.

He spends the fall and winter months teaching courses called Microelectronics. He carries his own golf bag. Instead of hitting the range or putting green after a round he finds a way to work in a local show around his tournament schedule.

Last year, McNeill bolted out of Oak Hill Country Club following the second round of play because he and his wife had U2 tickets in Boston. McNeill returned to Fitchburg the following day to compete in his round 32 match.

This time around, McNeill had yet another reason to play well the first two days.
“I had to play well because my wife and I are going to a show down in Lenox,” said McNeill. “It’s a Shakespeare thing, so it won’t go until midnight though.”

McNeill made sure that he would not have to return on Tuesday evening for a playoff as he capped off his second straight round of 1-over par 72 in the early afternoon hours. It marks his second straight appearance in match play. Last year he advanced to the round of 16.

“I was able to drive it into the fairway most of the time and keep it out of trouble,” said McNeill. “I am not sure that will work in match play, but who knows. I am playing another day so that is all that matters.”

McNeill first made headlines in 2007 when he advanced to the quarterfinals of this event. On his road to the quarterfinals at Concord Country Club, he defeated the likes of Adam Rainaud – who is now a two-time PGA Match Play Champion (2015, 2016) – and current MGA President Tom Bagley before falling to two-time champion Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough CC).

With nine more years under his belt, McNeill seems to relish the challenge of taking on the younger generation of players.

“First they will ask me who I am caddying for,” said McNeill. “Then they will note that my putter is older than they are. One nice thing is when you have a kid hitting it 30 yards past you, it does mean that I am hitting the first approach. So if I hit it close I can put a little pressure on them. I am just happy to be out here playing and not working.”

Regardless of what happens on Wednesday, there is no question that McNeill will have enjoyed his experience and his time in Williamstown.

“It’s a fun week,” said McNeill. “It’s a fabulous course in flawless condition and great people to play with. The weather is beautiful it is just a great week.”

A Welcome Role Reversal for Mark Turner

One year ago, Mark Turner (Bass Rocks GC) was the one looking in from the outside. That is not the case this year.

After failing to advance to match play following the first 36 holes of stroke play in 2015, the 16-year-old Turner returned to the host site on day three but on that day he was serving as a caddy for his brother James, who had advanced to the round of 32.

Fast forward one year and Mark will have his time to shine when he makes his first career appearance in match play.

“It feels good to be like him now,” said James, who is a rising senior at St. John’s Prep in Danvers. “It’s good to get in this year.”

Turner followed up his day-one score of even par 71 with a 2-under par 69 to finish at 2-under par 140. His Tuesday round was fueled by a back-nine score of 3-under par 33 on what is considered to be the tougher of the nines at Taconic GC.

“I had it going pretty even through the first six,” said Turner, who began his round on the 10th hole. “I would say the toughest three holes of the course I finished birdie, birdie, birdie on 16, 17 and 18.”

During that critical stretch of holes, Turner rolled in 10-foot birdie putts on the 16th and 17th holes and then sent his approach to inches on the 545-yard, par 5 18th hole.

“I just got out and hit it better than I thought I would,” said Turner, who resides in Gloucester. “I was hitting off the center of the face and it felt good.”

Later this month, Turner will travel south to compete at the 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship being held at the Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tennessee from July 18-23.

Before he takes on the nation’s top juniors, Turner will focus his attention on match play at the state title at hand.

“It is a great accomplishment and should be fun for the next few days hopefully,” said Turner.

A Two Days to Remember for 14-Year-Old O'Donnell

Jack O’Donnell (TPC Boston) has enjoyed every moment of his first-ever Massachusetts Amateur Championship. O’Donnell is 14 years old and was the youngest competitor to compete at this year’s Championship Proper. He is also the youngest competitor to advance to match play. He survived the nine-for-six playoff by making birdie on the first playoff hole.

O'Donnell's journey to this point began back on June 6 when he earned a spot in Championship Proper at a qualifier held at Wianno Club. Following a 4-over par 75 on Monday, O’Donnell rebounded with a 1-over par 72 to finish on the cut line with a two-day score of 5-over par 147.

“I am happy,” said O’Donnell, winner of the boys division at the 2014 Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship. “It is my first Mass Am. I am pretty pumped.”

Despite the challenges that Taconic GC presented to competitors, O’Donnell was able to manage his game and has a chance to become the youngest champion in the event’s 108-year storied history. The youngest players to win this title are Ted Adams (1939) and James Driscoll (1996), who were both 18 years old.

O’Donnell will turn 15 years old in September.

“I love Taconic,” said O’Donnell. “It wasn’t that long. There were a few long holes, but for the most part it wasn’t that bad and the greens were really good too.”

And his thoughts on his first major MGA thus far.

“It has been a lot of fun,” said O’Donnell. “I am happy that I did so well.”

Round 2 News & Notes

A Return Engagement: A total of 14 competitors who advanced to match play in 2015 were able to secure their spot again this time around. Here is a list of those competitors and their respective 2015 finish:

  • Patrick Frodigh - finals
  • Matthew Naumec - semifinals
  • Peter French - semifinals
  • John McNeill - quarterfinals
  • Thomas Henderson - round of 16
  • Ben Spitz - round of 16
  • Christopher Gentle - round of 16
  • Matt Parziale - round of 16
  • Ryan Riley - round of 32
  • Frank Vana, Jr. - round of 32
  • Doug Clapp - round of 32
  • John Kelly - round of 32
  • John Hadges - round of 32
  • Billy Walthouse - round of 32

Good MoJo: The trio that scored the combined lowest score over two days was that of Shuman, French and Patrick Frodigh (Dedham C&PC). The three collegiate players were collectively 5-under par through 36 holes of stroke play. Right ahead of that outstanding trio on the golf course was a group that included two competitors who also advanced to match play. David Chatfield (Locust Valley GC) – even par 142 – and Timothy Umphrey (Tatnuck CC) – 3-over par 145 – both advanced to match play.

Past Champs Represent: In addition to Vana, four other past champions of this event advanced to match play. Ryan Riley (Thorny Lea GC) and Ben Spitz (George Wright GC) finished at 2-over par 144 and 3-over par 145, respectively, while John Kelly (Twin Hills CC) and John Hadges (Thorny Lea GC) secured a spot in match play following a nine-for-six playoff.

Record Appearance: This marks Frank Vana, Jr.’s record 26th appearance in match play, which includes a stretch of 23 straight appearances from 1991 through 2012. His first of two MGA Amateur titles came here at Taconic Golf Club in 2004. He went on to capture a second title the following year at Essex County Club.

Comeback Kid: Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) delivered the round of the day – a 3-under par 68 – to secure his spot in match play. The 2014 Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year and reigning Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Champion rebounded from a day-one score of 5-over par 76 to finish T9 overall. After playing his first nine holes at Taconic GC at 5-over par, Parziale has played 3-under par golf through his final 28 holes.

Familiar Face Missing From Match Play: One name that fell under the cut line was that of Herbie Aikens (Pinehills GC). Although he has never captured the MGA Amateur title, Aikens is a perennial favorite and was coming off a recent victory at the Amateur Invitational held last month. He also captured the 2016 MGA Four-Ball Championship title with Parziale back in May. Aikens finished at 7-over par 149 and failed to advance to match play.

The Cut Line

This year's cut line was 5-over par 147 and a total of nine competitors had to play off for the final match play spots. The cut line fell at exactly 32 players in 2008 and again in 2009. Playoffs were held for the final spots the past seven years.

Here is a look at the cut-line through the past nine years.


Cut Line Score



147 (+5)

Taconic GC


146 (+6)

Oak Hill CC


148 (+8)

Kernwood CC


148 (+8)

Longmeadow CC


147 (+7)

Tedesco CC


147 (+7)

Wyantenuck CC


151 (+7)

Myopia Hunt Club


150 (+8)

The Country Club


151 (+11)

The Kittansett Club














Preparing For Match Play: Coverage Overview

Match play represents an opportunity to come see golf at its roots and at its best.

If you can’t make it to Taconic Golf Club this week, here is a summary of the coverage you can expect online from Wednesday through the final 36-hole match on Friday.

Round of 32 – 3-hole score updates for all 16 matches
Round of 16 – 3-hole score updates for all 8 matches

Quarterfinals – hole-by-hole score & on-course Twitter updates
Semifinals – hole-by-hole score & on-course Twitter updates

Final Match - hole-by-hole score & on-course Twitter updates and hole-by-hole descriptions

Highlights and competitor interviews will be posted following the end of each day. In addition, MGA Photographer David Colt will be in site on Wednesday and Friday and Videographer Don Coyne will produce final-round highlights on Friday. All information can be found online at MGAlinks.org, and you can join the conversation via:

Round 2: Daily Course Conditions Update

Here is a rundown on course statistics from Tuesday, July 12.

Day 2 Course Statistics
Average Score: 76.107
Low Score: 68
High Score: 87
Total # of Eagles: 8
Total # of Birdies: 281
Total # of Bogeys: 684
Total # of Pars: 1,400
Hardest Hole: #17 (average score was 3.679)
Easiest Hole: #1 (average score was 4.586)