150 Players Tee Off beginning Monday at Vesper Country Club
For Immediate Release: June 6, 2019
NORTON, Massachusetts – Beginning Monday, the 110th Massachusetts Open Championship will kick off at Vesper Country Club, site of the first state Open championship in 1905, for what will be an exciting three days of competition featuring the region’s top professional and amateur golfers. Each of the 150 players in the field will play 18-holes on both Monday and Tuesday, with the low 50 scorers and ties after 36 holes, or anyone within seven strokes of the lead, advancing to Wednesday’s third and final round of play. At the completion of play, the Clarence G. Cochrane Memorial Trophy and a gold medal will be presented to the champion and The Commonwealth Cup will be presented to the low-amateur.
The only Mass Golf championship featuring a professional purse, which at $75,000 makes it one of the largest conducted across New England, this year’s Open Championship features 92 competitors with professional status and another 58 amateur competitors.
All competitors in the field enter this week’s tournament having either qualified at one of six qualifiers held across Massachusetts between May 6 and May 28, are exempt based on past Mass Golf Championship performances, or were granted exemption based on requests that were made to and eventually voted on by the Mass Golf Championship Committee. Of the 150 in the field, 72 were among those who qualified, 19 were originally alternates from qualifying and the remaining 59 competitors were exempt in some form.
West Suffield Connecticut’s Jason Thresher, winner of the past three Massachusetts Open Championships, will look to become only the sixth competitor in the 110 year history of the Championship Proper to win four Open titles, and only the third competitor (Alex Ross 1906-1910, Paul Harney 1967-1970) to win four straight titles. The 30-year old Thresher captured the New England PGA Open championship on June 5 at Quechee Club (Vt.). In his second year competing on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica, Thresher’s best finish came on May 5 when he placed T13 at the Puerto Plata Open.
The 110th Massachusetts Open Championship at Vesper Country Club marks the sixth Championship Proper to be held at the Tyngsborough, Massachusetts club. The very first Massachusetts Open, held in 1905 and won by course architect Donald Ross himself, was conducted at Vesper. The other Open Championships conducted here include 1929 (Jesse P. Guilford), 1971 (Charley Volpone), 1990 (Fran Quinn, Jr.) and 2005 (Eric Egloff).
Six former champions are in the field for the Massachusetts Open Championship, including Jason Thresher (2016-18), Joe Harney (2015), Ian Thimble (2014) Evan Harmeling (2013), Eric Egloff (2005) and John Elliot (1991). Charley Volpone, the 1971 & 1972 Massachusetts Open champion, and one of only seven competitors in Massachusetts history to win both the Massachusetts Amateur and the Massachusetts Open Championships, is slated to be in attendance. More information regarding his schedule is forthcoming.
The youngest player in this year’s field is 15-year old Weston Jones, of Sudbury, who qualified on May 6 at the Salem CC qualifier. This is his first time competing in the Massachusetts Open Championship. Having just finished his sophomore year at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional HS, Jones most recently competed in the 2018 Massachusetts Junior Amateur championship, where he missed the cut to advance to match play by one stroke.
The oldest competitor in this year’s Open Championship is 64-year old Rich Karbowski, of Sudbury. Among his accolades, Karbowski won the 1981 Vermont Open, the 2003 and 2004 New England Open, the 2007 Texas Senior Open, the 2011 NEPGA Sr. Championship, the 2011 Massachusetts Senior Open and the 2011 and 2013 Rhode Island Senior Open. He is exempt into the field due to Category No. 4 – Top twenty (20) finishers and ties in the 2018 Skip Wogan Point system – the NEPGA Player of the Year point system.
This year’s field includes representation from 15 states across the U.S. In addition to the 96 competitors from Massachusetts in the field, the field consists of Florida (9), New Hampshire (8), Connecticut (7), New York (6), New Jersey (5), Maine (4), Rhode Island (4), Pennsylvania (4), Vermont (2), Alabama (1), Maryland (1), South Carolina (1), Wisconsin (1), and Washington (1). The state count is based on the address each golfer provided at the time of registration.
The Other “Open” – For the second straight year, the reigning Richard D. Haskell Player of the Year, Matt Parziale, who twice finished as the Massachusetts Open runner-up (2009, 2014), will not be in the Championship field because of his commitment to play in a much larger Open Championship. The former Brockton firefighter, the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion and the 2018 U.S. Open co-low amateur, qualified for the 2019 U.S. Open on June 3 in Purchase, N.Y. In addition to Parziale, Wilbraham’s Matt Naumec, who had to withdraw from the Massachusetts Open qualifier on May 7 at Granite Links but has previously played in each of the last four Massachusetts Open championships, qualified for his first U.S. Open on June 3 in Washington state. 2017 Massachusetts Open co-low amateur, Michael Thorbjornsen, of Wellesley, will be playing in the U.S. Open having earned an automatic exemption from winning the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur championship. Andover’s Rob Oppenheim, who had one year remaining on his 10-year exemption to the Massachusetts Open as a former champion (2009), also qualified for the U.S. Open Championship on June 3 in Purchase, New York. He had not registered for this year’s Massachusetts Open. The 119th U.S. Open Championship begins on Thursday, June 13 at California’s Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Four competitors in this year’s Massachusetts Open field had filed exemption requests that were passed by the Mass Golf Championship Committee. Massachusetts native Jon Curran, who has had success on both PGA Tour and Web.com Tour, most recently placed 36th at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in April. As a professional, he has two 2nd place finishes, eight top-10 finishes and has earned over $3.1 million in winnings since turning professional in 2009. Eric Egloff, the 2005 Massachusetts Open champion, Cody Booska, of Turners Falls Massachusetts, who would miss qualifying due to the NCAA Championship conflicts, and 2000 & 2001 Lowell Cities Golf Tournament champion (held at Vesper), Marc Chandonnet, were also granted exemptions. UPDATE (6/7): Jon Curran & James Driscoll have both withdrawn from the Mass Open Championship.
The Lowell Cities Golf Tournament, which began in 1923 and will be celebrating its 94th year in 2019, is the oldest known local amateur golf tournament in the country, according to the tournament website. The tournament, conducted between members from Vesper Country Club (Tynsborough), Long Meadow Golf Club (Lowell), Mount Pleasant Golf Club (Lowell) and Nabnasset Lake Country Club (Westford), is held between the four courses and consists of a 54-hole medal play event. For rounds 1 and 2 of the Massachusetts Open, former Lowell Cities Champions Chris Gentle (2015, 16), Marc Chandonnet (2000, 2001) and Al Santos (1986, 1987) are all paired together in the same group. They will tee off the 10th tee at 9:09 am on Monday, June 10. This year’s Lowell Cities Tournament will be held at Vesper on June 19, Long Meadow GC on June 21 and will conclude on June 22 at Mount Pleasant.
All past winners of the New England Amateur Championship – James Turner, Nick McLaughlin and Evan Russell – are paired together for Rounds 1 and 2, while past Massachusetts Amateur champions Patrick Frodigh, Brendan Hunter and Ronald Coiro are also paired together. Shawn Warren, Liam Friedman and Rich Berberian, Jr. – all past champions of the NEPGA Sectional championship – are paired together as well.
Three competitors who hold their handicap index out of Vesper CC are in this week’s Championship field. Rich Berberian, Jr. the club’s director of instruction, who most recently competed at the PGA Championship, joins Vesper club professional Christopher Gehling and amateur Jonathan Scano as those playing on their home course.