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HAMPDEN, Massachusetts – After the second round of the Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship, Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) added to his lead, but defending champion Nick Maccario (Bradford CC) made a charge up the leaderboard with eight birdies to set up a showdown in the final round Thursday.
Parziale is 9-under through two days after shooting 4-under Wednesday, but Maccario surged into second place and is five strokes back after shooting a 6-under 66, making seven birdies, including six on the front nine.
After two rounds, the low 30 scorers are advancing after making the cut at 11-over 155. Tee times begin at 7:30 a.m.
The winner will take home the Ted Bishop Trophy, named after the Mass Golf Hall of Fame Member who played on two Walker Cup teams and is still the lone player to date to win the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, New England Amateur Championship and the U.S. Amateur Championship in the same year (1946).
Maccario and Parziale played head-to-head in this year’s Mass Amateur semifinals, with Maccario overcoming a three-down deficit to win the match. However, he said he’ll have a much different challenge Thursday.
“I’m spotting him five, but playing with him is awesome,” Maccario said. “He brings out the best in other people I think so we had a really good match all the way down to the end, and hopefully I can get him all the way down to the end here.”
After shooting 2-over on Tuesday, Maccario put himself into contention by firing off five birdies on the first six holes and adding a birdie on the ninth, one of only eight on that hole for the day.
“It’s more comfortable for sure,” Maccario said. “This place can get really uncomfortable from the tee shots to the second shots, and I felt like yesterday the pins didn’t set up very well for to my eye. I knew what today’s were going to be, so I was pretty comfortable going out there knowing that I have some opportunities, and I played a little bit more aggressively.”
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) September 9, 2020
He also had a key par saves on the 10th and 12th, as Maccario went up-and-down from the bunker on the latter of the two. After sinking a 30-footer from the front fringe on the 13th, he finished out by sandwiching his eighth birdie between two bogeys on holes 16 and 18.
“I tried to kind of think my way around yesterday, and that did not work so I managed to hit a couple close today and make some putts,” said Maccario, who currently leads the points race for the Mass Golf Richard D. Haskell Player of the Year.
Parziale, the 2019 Player of the Year, settled in nicely in the morning round, making five birdies with just one bogey. He continued his strong putting as well, making both birdies putts inside 10 feet on the 15th and 18th to close out his round.
“I was actually probably a little better off today; didn’t have as much trouble,” Parziale said. “I think my speed was a little bit better today. I misread a few putts, but the ones I had on line went in, and I was fortunate to make a few 10-15-footers on the way in.”
Parziale also entered the final round with a five-stroke lead when he won for the Mid-Am for the second consecutive year in 2016, but even with a decent lead, he said the focus is the same. “Just gonna try and play another good round,” he said.
Arthur Zelmati (Cranberry Valley) finished 1-under 71 for the second consecutive day, joining Parziale as the only other play to shoot in the red both days. He is tied with Brandon Parker (Worcester CC), who followed up a 2-under 70 with an even-par 72 Wednesday.
After making some swing changes and throwing a new putter in the bag, Zelmati said he’s been able to hit the ball with more consistency. Overall, though, Zelmati said he’s exceeded his own expectations so far in the Mid-Amateur.
“I didn’t come here necessarily like trying to win or anything, just trying to put some good rounds together,” Zelmati said. “This place is so incredible. Four days here, including the practice round, is awesome.”
This year’s cutline for the Mass Mid-Am of 11-over was just one stroke higher than last year’s cut at Brae Burn CC.
2018: +7 (Second Round Postponed)
Last Man In: An unusual club selection helped Mike Mattola (Andover CC) nab the 30th and final spot in the final round of the Mass Mid-Amateur. Sitting at 12-over on the 9th hole, his 18th of the day, Mattola took out a 5-iron for the 184-yard, par-3, and teed it up about an inch and a half off the ground, hitting a “moonball” a few feet from the green, leaving himself with a makable birdie putt to move to 11-over.
First Ace!: Chris Scott (Twin Hills CC) didn’t make the cut at this year’s Mass Mid-Amateur, but he’s walking away with a lifetime memory. With his father on the bag, Scott made his first-ever hole-in-one Wednesday, as he stepped up to the 115-yard, par-3 15th and hit a 54-degree sand wedge. With the pin in the back of the green, Scott’s shot hit three inches in front of the hole, took a bounce and rattled it into the cup. “It’s an absolute dream come true,” said Scott, who shot a 5-over 77 in his second round. “That really just put a jolt into the round today and made me fire a little bit more at the pin, and I played great from there on out.”
🚨 Ace Alert 🚨
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) September 9, 2020
GreatHorse’s Oleksak Makes Cut: AJ Oleksak, a former standout at the University of Hartford, said he doesn’t get to compete in statewide events often, but he’s making the best of the experience with the Mid-Amateur at GreatHorse. Oleksak finished Wednesday T5 with Mike Calef (Pine Oaks GC) at 2-over for the tournament. “To be in the last handful of groups tomorrow, I think that’s great,” said Oleksak, a former U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier. “It’s a good test, and it’s always fun a few times a year to test yourself and get the adrenaline flowing a bit, hit some good shots and see what happens.”
Alternate Makes Cut: Joseph Iacona (Vesper CC) was the first of eight alternates to earn entry into the Mass Mid-Am this year and the only one to make the cut. Iacona is T17 after going 9-over total with a 75-78–153 over the first three days.
Most Improved: After shooting an 88 on Tuesday, Adam Brickle (CC of Pittsfield) shaved 10 strokes off his score, sinking a birdie on the 14th as part of his 6-over 78 on Wednesday. Brickle, 25, who is making his debut in the Mid-Am, began a PGM internship at GreatHorse in 2017, assistant PGA Golf Professionals on staff as well as outside operations.
Did You Know?: The GreatHorse name is derived from the Italian translation of Leonardo Da Vinci’s 15th century “Gran Cavallo” statue, also known as Leonardo’s Horse. It was intended to be the largest equestrian statue in the world. With all its amenities included on its 232-acre property, one might feel that GreatHorse was intended to be the largest golf club in the country, if not the world.
Return To W-Mass: This year’s Championship Proper marks the first time the Mass Mid-Amateur is taking place in the Springfield area, but it’s not the first time it has come to Western Massachusetts. The Mass Mid-Amateur was first contested in 1984 at The Club at New Seabury, which served as either lone host or co-host every year until 1995. The year after, the Championship moved out to Western Mass as Stockbridge GC and Wyantenuck CC served as co-hosts. It didn’t return to the area until Berkshire Hills CC hosted in 2008.
Tri-States: A handful of competitors have extra special motivation to do well this week. The Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship represents one of the final events that will be used to determine the team that will represent the Bay State at the Tri-State Matches scheduled for October 13-14 at Hartford Golf Club (Hartford CC). Team selection is based on the Richard D. Haskell Mass Golf Player of the Year point standings. Each team from the three states – Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut – includes 10 mid-amateur and six senior amateur competitors. The Bay State has won the last 15 of the last 16 titles. To see the Player of the Year standings, CLICK HERE
Entries were open to amateur golfers who reached their 25th birthday by September 8, 2020, and who have an active Mass Golf/GHIN Handicap Index at any public, private, semi-private, municipal or non-real estate Mass Golf member course/club not exceeding 5.4 (as determined by the July 23, 2020 Handicap Revision) or have completed their handicap certification.
Peter Drooker won the inaugural Mass Mid-Amateur in 1984 at the Club at New Seabury on Cape Cod, the site of last week’s Women’s Stroke Play Championship for the Baker Trophy. Back then, the Championship Proper consisted of players 35 and older with a Handicap Index not exceeding 10.0. Ever since 1998, the minimum age has been 25, while the maximum Handicap Index has nearly been cut in half.
Frank Vana, Jr., who was inducted into the Mass Golf Hall of Fame in 2016, has won the event 10 times, including five consecutive times between 1999 and 2003.
For complete coverage of the Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship, visit MassGolf.org or follow @PlayMassGolf on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Interact with us throughout the tournament by using #MassMidAm.