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TYNGSBOROUGH, Massachusetts – New Hampshire’s Mike Martel entered the final round of the 2019 Massachusetts Open Championship with a one-stroke lead and his eyes set on the Clarence G. Cochrane Memorial Trophy and the corresponding $15,000 in winnings that is awarded to the lowest scorer of the 54-hole Championship tournament. Behind a 3-under 69 effort on Wednesday in front of dozens of Vesper Country Club members and other spectators, Martel finished by the same one stroke margin to capture his first win as a professional competitor.
The 26-year old from New Ipswich registered an eagle and two birdies on his final nine holes as a member of the final grouping to edge Tampa, Florida’s Ryan Gendron by one stroke. Massachusetts native Jake Shuman, of Needham and Blue Hill Country Club, placed third at 10-under 206.
“It wasn’t easy, I got off to a little bit of a slow start, but I made the eagle on 11 from off the green and that kind of turned things,” explained Martel. “I birdied 12 and came right from the bogey with another birdie.”
After making par on the first two holes, Martel bogeyed the par-4 third hole, but rebounded with three straight pars on holes four through six. On the par-5 seventh hole, he registered his first birdie of the day and finished the front half at even-par 36.
“It was kind of a sluggish start,” recollected Martel. “I didn’t make anything and I made all my short putts today, which was the key. I didn’t three putt at all this week which definitely won me the golf tournament.”
Once making the turn to the backside, Martel did more of the same – continuing to stay low while fighting off both Shuman, who was 5-under through 11 holes on the day – as well as Horseheads, New York’s Jamison Sindelar – the fourth place finisher – who went 4-under in his final seven holes.
On the par-5 11th hole, a dogleg left that played at 588 yards, he hit driver off the tee, his driving iron on his second shot to just left of the green and chipped it in for his eagle – one of only six eagles recorded by the field of 60 competitors on the day.
He used a sand wedge to tally a birdie on the 12th hole and rebounded from a 14th hole bogey by birdying the 15th hole. A key up and down on the 17th, followed by a par on the 18th hole secured his one stroke victory.
He added, “I was sticking to my game plan. I was hitting it where I wanted to hit it and I just wanted to roll some putts in. Coming down the stretch, I made some keys ones. Up and down on 17. That’s pretty much it.”
BRENNAN TAKES LOW-AMATEUR
Colin Brennan, the 2017 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur champion, entered Wednesday’s third and final round in a tie for the low amateur honors with Herbie Aikens, T10 on the leaderboard and five strokes behind leader Mike Martel. In his final round, the 30-year from Indian Ridge Country Club in Andover, carded a 2-under 70 to finish at 6-under 210.
“I really liked how the course set up for me today,” said Brennan following his final round. “On Monday, I didn’t hit the ball really well, but I made a lot of putts to sort of stay in it. Yesterday in the wind, I played great, again putted well, but also hit it well and then today, I just played really steady, hit a lot of good shots.”
“The greens were really quick today. Maybe a little defensive on the greens but all and all, I am very pleased.”
Coming off what he said was a miserable golf year, Brennan says his finish this week at the Massachusetts Open was a key indicator that the work he has been putting in with instructor Chris Hawley of Kohr Golf, his collegiate teammate at Johnson & Wales North Miami, has been paying off.
“Chris has done a good job getting me ready to play,” said Brennan. “I’ve felt like it’s been coming for a few months so it’s nice to actually see some results.”
With his 6-under 210 mark, Brennan finished one stroke ahead of Aikens. In total, 17 amateurs had advanced to the final round of the 110th Massachusetts Open Championship.
For nearly five hours on Wednesday, Vesper Country Club had a few extra people on hand to assist in the operation of the final round of the 110th Massachusetts Open Championship. Sgt. Chris Damaso, a 12-year veteran of the United States Army, and Private Matt Elkins, a veteran of the United States Army Reserve, served as the honorary flag attendants on the 18th green, continuing an annual tradition that coincides with the final round of the Championship Proper each year. In their roles Wednesday, the two split shifts greeting each of the 60 competitors in the final round as they made their way onto the green for their final putts.
The flag on the 18th pin, which until Wednesday’s final round held the Mass Golf emblem, was replaced with an American flag – a symbol of the service that Damaso and Elkins have each given, and the appreciation of Mass Golf and the entire golfing community has for their service.
Damaso, who now resides in nearby Chelmsford and manages the personal training department at Best Fitness, served three tours as a member of the First Calvary Division, including two in Iraq (2009-10, 2011) and one in Afghanistan (2013-14). Elkins, of Lowell, served 15 months during the Cold War and Desert Storm era in 1991-92, and is currently an ordained minister, justice of the peace and a notary. Additionally, Elkins is the Sergeant at Arms for the Dracut American Legion, a post he has served for the past four years ,while he also enters his fourth year as the Commander for the Greater Lowell Veterans Council – an organization that works to help increase support and connect the Greater Lowell Veteran Community.
Mass Golf is grateful for the service of all military members and thanks the generosity of both Damaso and Elkins for their time at the 110th Massachusetts Open Championship at Vesper Country Club.
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