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Headline: Matt Parziale Scores an Ace and Leads By Five Heading Into Final Round of 2016 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship at TGC
For Immediate Release: September 21, 2016
Matt Parziale holds a five-stroke lead heading into the final round of the 2016 MGA Mid-Amateur Championship at TGC.
East Falmouth, MA — When Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) watched his tee shot on the fourth hole at TGC roll into the hole for a hole in one, he had a feeling that it was going to be a good day.
The reigning champion of the Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship took a critical step on Wednesday towards recapturing the title when he fired a second-round score of 4-under par 68 which catapulted him into the lead by five strokes heading into the final day of competition.
Parziale was one of 30 competitors who advanced to the third round. The starting field of 120 was trimmed to the low 30 scorers and ties following the first two rounds of play in East Falmouth.
33rd MGA Mid-Amateur Quick Links
“I have been pretty conservative off the tee here and that is something I decided going in,” said Parziale, who is 7-under par 137 through 36 holes. “I will probably stick to that. It is a tough driving course and fairways are key. I have been keeping it out of trouble and that is why I have had some success these first two rounds.”
Parziale entered the second round just one stroke off the lead following a score of 3-under par 69 on Tuesday. He made three pars on Wednesday afternoon before scoring a hole in one on the 4th hole that was playing to 166 yards and into the wind.
“I hit a really good shot there,” said Parziale, who hit a 6 iron off the tee. “I chipped it and it started right where I was aiming and drew a little bit. Those are always fun to make them, but there is a lot of golf after that.”
Sitting atop the leaderboard is nothing new for Parziale, who entered last year’s final round with a sizeable lead. He went on to set an event record for margin of victory (15 strokes) at Marlborough Country Club for what was his first individual MGA Championship victory.
“That was a special week,” said Parziale. “We have played a lot of golf since then, but it is definitely in the back of your mind.”
Interestingly, it was Parziale who made headlines one year ago when he made a similarly impressive shot during that competition – a double eagle on the 8th hole at Marlborough Country Club.
“I was thinking about that too,” said Parziale. “But it’s not the tournament. Those are lucky to go in, and it’s always fun when they do.”
Following that ace on Wednesday, Parziale made his first bogey of the tournament on the 536-yard, par 5 5th hole.
“I screwed up the next hole right after that,” said Parziale. “It was probably the worst wedge shot I hit all two days. It was a wedge and I pulled it from 110 yards. It was a tough up and down.”
Parziale, the 2014 Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year, quickly made up for that error by hitting it to two feet on the 150-yard, par 3 8th hole.
“For a second I thought that it was going right in,” said Parziale
He capped off his front nine by making a 15-foot birdie putt on the 390-yard, par 4 9th hole and then made eight straight pars heading into his final hole of the day.
With a gallery watching from above, Parziale found the green in two and then left his eagle attempt 12 feet short. He drew applause by sinking that putt for birdie and securing a day-low score of 4-under par 68.
And for a second straight year, Parziale will be paired on the final day with Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough CC), who is second at 2-under par 142.
Matt Vaughn (Wampatuck CC), Michael Pyne (Foxborough CC) and Tim Johnson (Poquoy Brook GC) are T3 at 1-under par 143.
First-round leader Billy Van Stratum (Dennis Pines GC) dropped to T9 following a day-two score of 5-over par 77.
There isn’t much more that Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough CC) could do to enhance his golf resume, but you wouldn’t know that by watching him compete.
The 54-year-old Sudbury native has won a record nine Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship titles over his career. Despite competing against competitors – many of whom are more than 30 years his junior – Vana still finds himself in contention through 36 holes.
“It obviously gets tougher each year because more and more guys are coming through and turning 25,” said Vana. “I still love to compete and believe that my game can stand up to this competition. It certainly gets more challenging as you age, but the fire and desire is still there each season. We are all amateurs. We aren’t making a living off of golf. We are here because we love it.”
Vana won his first Ted Bishop Cup in 1999 and went on to win five straight times. Many joked – at the time – that the event should be renamed, “The Frank Vana Invitational”.
“That was a great stretch of wins,” said Vana.
Although his streak of five straight ended following a rain-shortened event in 2014, Vana went on to win the title in 2005 and 2006 and then again in 2012 and 2013. No other competitor has come close to winning so many titles. In fact, only two others have won three since the event’s introduction in 1984.
In addition to his unmatched reign at this event, Vana has collected more hardware than any other competitor in MGA history. He has captured a total of 14 MGA Championship titles, including two Massachusetts Amateur Championships in 2004 and 2005.
“Those two Amateur wins were important to me,” said Vana. “The State Amateur crown is what we all want, but it’s incredibly difficult to make it through stroke play and then match play. I had come so close for many years and to finally break through and win was special. To come back and repeat was rewarding.”
Perhaps even more mind boggling than his trophy collection is the fact that Vana holds the record for the most appearances in match play at the Massachusetts Amateur Championship. This past July, Vana advanced to match play at the Massachusetts Amateur Championship for the 26th time in his career. It is a mark that is unmatched and includes a stretch of 23 straight appearances in match play at that event from 1991 through 2012. He is also the only competitor to have advanced to the Amateur final six times in a span of nine years.
“It isn’t something that I think a lot about,” said Vana. “Every championship is different. We are so fortunate here in Massachusetts to play incredible courses. When I look back at the history, I am amazed at the venues that I played and the opportunities that we have as players.”
In addition to his MGA success, Vana has qualified for and played in 30 USGA Championships and has won the Tarlow Invitational four times, the Worcester County Amateur six times, and the Francis Ouimet Memorial Invitational five times. No player has won as many titles in any of those regional events as Vana.
As a result of his performances each season, Vana has been named the Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year nine times. The second most Player of the Year awards earned is four and no other competitor has won more than two since the early 1980s.
“It has been a fun ride, and I hope that I still have some more good golf in front of me,” said Vana.
Vana’s mark on Bay State golf will be permanently etched when he is inducted into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame on October 13th at Andover Country Club. Vana is part of a third class of inductees that includes Bob Crowley, Bill Flynn, Joe Lazaro, Anne Marie Tobin and Herbert Warren Wind.
“It’s hard to look at the list and believe that my name is amongst so many greats,” said Vana. “I am humbled by the honor.”
For more information about the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame Gala, visit MassGolfHall.org.
Last fall, Gene Crowley received a phone call that changed his life.
At that time, Crowley was absorbing the news that his beloved golf club located just two miles from where he spent his summers growing up was about to change owners and the future of the club was in jeopardy.
“I packed my bags and thought that I was going to join another club,” said Crowley. “Then I got a call from Jack, and I said I don’t want to let this go to somebody else. Let’s do this.”
On the other end of the line was Jack Laurendeau and the plan was to take over the club themselves. After all, Crowley and Laurendeau were part of a group that had been with the club since it opened in 2007.
“It was in the fall of last year that the original ownership was thinking of doing a transition and that’s when a small group of members got together and talked about keeping the club together,” said Laurendeau. “There was talk of it possibly going public, but it was too special to too many of us to allow that to happen.”
The business acumen of that small but inspired group took over. The group of members came together, purchased the note on the club and then sold equity back to nearly one half of the membership. The name was officially changed to “TGC” and what could have been a disastrous time turned into a blessing in disguise
“When we went through the transition we started the year with about 120 members,” said Laurendeau. “If we fast forward today and ballpark it to somewhere between 180 and 190 we probably had more net new growth of members this year than we had in the last five years combined. Considering the state of the industry and how competitive it is we thought that was something special.”
What sets the club apart is crystal clear from the moment one steps onto the property. Golfers of all abilities are able to enjoy the vision and talent of acclaimed golf course architect Rees Jones.
“Have you played it? It’s awesome,” said Crowley. “Rees Jones did a great job. If you go out there and play you would think that it’s 70 years old.”
Designed through sandy glacial terrain made up of ridges and kettle holes and studded with pines, oaks, and granite boulders, the site proved to be the perfect setting for what was selected as one of Travel + Leisure GOLF'S list of 10 Best New Courses for 2007.
“It is a different course that you don’t see on the Cape,” added Laurendeau. “It has enough levels of tees so you can make it as friendly as you like it or as challenging as you need it based on the length you choose to play. With Rees’ help we have made some nice renovations to a few holes to make it a little more user friendly and to keep speed of play a priority.”
While changes – both to the ownership and course – were many, there remains a constant at the club in its key staff including Head Golf Professional Douglas Errhalt, Golf Course Superintendent Stoyan Muhov and General Manager and COO Charlie Passios.
“We were blessed that the staff stayed on,” said Laurendeau. “They were all willing to buy into what we were trying to accomplish and people saw their results and by all accounts we exceeded our expectations in terms of membership growth in 2016.”
Passios has a unique perspective as he has seen the course grow from a wooded boulder strewn lot
to one of the most revered championship layouts in the region. He worked directly with Jones on the original design as well as on the recent renovations.
He was on site when the club hosted the Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Championship in 2011 and the 2013 Massachusetts Father & Daughter Championship and was instrumental in bringing two of the MGA’s marquee events to TGC over the next 12 months
“We think that it’s a great course that will play well for what [the MGA] is trying to accomplish,” said Crowley. “It’s clear that when a good golfer comes here they love it… and to expose it some of the best golfers in the area is a great match I hope for both parties.”
In addition to this week’s Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship, the club will host the 2017 Massachusetts Open Championship on June 12-14.
“We are committed to golf and giving back is part of the equation,” said Laurendeau. “To have the opportunity to host whether it be the Mid Am or the Open, that is win-win for both of us. We feel that it’s a great venue [for the MGA] but at the same time we get exposure to a bunch of folks who perhaps aren’t from this area and didn’t know about the club.”
Response to the course has been overwhelmingly positive as competitors have been challenged by the championship layout and in awe of its magnificent surroundings and unique architecture.
And thanks to the vision and heart of Laurendeau, Crowley and a small group of members… the future is of TGC is now as bright as ever.
This year's cut line fell at 7-over par 151. A total of 30 players advanced to the third and final round.
Midway through the second round of play, a dashed line appeared on the leader board. The projected cutline tracked the progress for the top 30 scorers and ties or anyone within five strokes of the lead. After all only those competitors would advance to the third and final round of the championship.
The projected cutline appeared online once the final player who teed off on Wednesday had posted a score for his first nine holes. It was at that time that the MGA scoring system began projecting the cutline. The players below the line were projected to miss the cut for final round.
It would not be accurate to show the cutline at the players who were in that 30 and ties place, as everyone in the field would have had to play even par for the remainder of the day for a cutline of that type to be accurate. Our goal is to project the score at which the cutline will fall. Our cutline projects what the leader board will look like at the end of Round 2.
By definition, a "cut line" in golf is defined as the score that represents the dividing point between golfers who continue playing and those who are cut from the field in a golf tournament. In other words, who will be coming back on the final day and who will be going home after 36 holes.
Walking Only at TGC: For a second straight day, carts were not allowed on the course. A total of 2.25 inches of rain fell on the TGC course on Monday. While the course was in perfect condition from tee to green, officials made the decision that golf carts on the course - specifically on the fairways and in the fescue - could cause long-term damage. As a result, all players were instructed that they would have to either walk or utilize a pull cart and/or caddie. The mark, lift, clean and replace procedure in any closely mowed areas of the golf course that was put in place on Tuesday was lifted for the second round.
A Return to TGC in 2017: Many of this week’s competitors will be returning to East Falmouth next summer. Last month, the MGA announced that TGC will serve as host of the 2017 Massachusetts Open Championship on June 12-14. That MGA Championship Proper features some of the top amateur and professional competitors from across the country.
Tri-States On Their Mind: More than a handful of competitors this week have more than MGA Mid-Amateur title hopes on their mind. A total of eight mid-amateurs are annually selected to represent Team Massachusetts at the Tri-State Team Matches which features friendly competitive between Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Players are selected based on their standing in the MGA’s Player of the Year Point System. The MGA Mid-Amateur is the final event that will be used to determine Team Massachusetts, which will be comprised of eight mid-amateurs and four senior amateurs. The 2016 Tri-State Matches will be held on October 18-19 at Rhode Island CC in Barrington, Rhode Island.
The Eagle Didn't Land Until Wednesday: Despite 10 under-par scores and an average score of 77.373 on Monday, there were zero eagles carded at TGC that day. It marks the first time that zero eagles were carded in an 18-hole MGA Championship Proper competitive round this season. The streak was broken early Wednesday afternoon when Chris Needham made eagle on the 533-yard, par 5 3rd hole. By the end of the day, the starting field of 120 had registered a total of three eagles over 36 holes.
WAGR Counting Event: This event is one of three MGA Championships that is included in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), which comprises a men's ranking for elite amateur players. The ranking system is offered by The R&A and the USGA as a global service to golf as a way to offer exemptions, select national teams and assemble Orders of Merit. The system ranks the top male amateur golfers in the world on the basis of their average performance in Counting Events over a rolling cycle of the previous 104 weeks. Matt Parziale is the top-ranked Bay State golfer with 795.5455 points.
Birmingham Bound: Two competitors in the field have booked their tickets to Alabama. Matt Parziale and John Kelly are part of a trio selected to represent Team Massachusetts at the USGA Men’s State Championship, which will be held at the CC of Birmingham on September 28-30. Parziale and Kelly will be joined by Herbie Aikens at the three-day, 54 hole stroke-play championship. While both Aikens and Parziale have played for Team Massachusetts in the past, this will be the first time that Kelly will be representing his state.
A PGA Tour Caddie In the House: Jim Horvath may appear to be just a normal MGA rules official, but he has a history that many know nothing about. Horvath, a former member of the MGA’s executive committee and a current volunteer and instructor for The First Tee of Massachusetts, was a caddie on the PGA Tour for three years. He served as caddie from 1979 to 1981 for Mike Reid, whose professional record includes two PGA Tour and two Champions Tour title. In 1980 with Horvath on his bag, Reid finished in the top 10 a total of 13 times on the PGA Tour. Only Tom Watson had more top-10 finishes that year. Over the course of his career, Reid recorded 70 top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour.
Here is a rundown on course statistics from Wednesday, September 21.
Average Score: 78.655
Low Score: 68
High Score: 92
Total # of Eagles: 3
Total # of Birdies: 192
Total # of Bogeys: 554
Total # of Pars: 1,124
Hardest Hole: #13 (average score was 3.602)
Easiest Hole: #8 (average score was 3.088)
For complete coverage of the event, make sure to check the MGA’s website, www.mgalinks.org and follow us on social media (@mgalinks) and #MassMidAm