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CONCORD, Massachusetts – A pair of Mass Golf Members rose to the top of the leaderboard at the 91st New England Amateur as the Championship Proper returned to The Bay State for the first time since 2014. Northboro’s Tim Umphrey (Tatnuck CC) matched Caleb Manuel (Brunswick GC; Maine) in Tuesday’s opening round with a 4-under-par 66 at Concord Country Club, which was hosting the championship for the first time. Swampscott’s Christian Emmerich (Kernwood CC), a sophomore at Holy Cross, finished 3-under for solo third place.
“I did exactly what I wanted to do which was come in here and post a good first score,” said Umphrey, who missed the cut by one stroke at last week’s Mass Amateur. “It’s nice to have a bounce-back round.”
The New England Amateur was first contested in 1926 and has been played continuously, except for 1942-45 for World War II. The competition pits the best amateur players from all six New England states in a 72-hole match play event. After Wednesday’s 18-hole round, the field will be cut to 40 players, who will play 36 holes to determine a champion on Thursday. Past champions include James Driscoll and Jim Renner, former Mass Golf champions who moved on to the professional ranks.
A Massachusetts player has won the event 36 times. This year, the Bay State has 89 golfers in the field of 144 players, including defending champion Xavier Marcoux (Nashawtuc CC) and Matt Organisak (Nashawtuc CC), who won last week’s Massachusetts Amateur.
Still, the day belonged to Umphrey. The 2019 UConn graduate set the pace by shooting 1-under on the back nine before making birdie on the 1st, 3rd and 4th holes. He then closed the round with an up-and-down birdie on the 9th hole, a 142-yard, par 3.
“I put myself in good spots on the greens, and I got a few putts to go,” said Umphrey, a former Mass Four-Ball champion. “It can definitely play tricky. You have to make sure to stay patient I think the key is to not get ahead of myself. The course is in awesome shape. If the wind stays down there’s gonna be some numbers out there for sure.”
Emmerich, who also missed the cut at last week’s Massachusetts Amateur, played in the same group as Organsiak, but this time was well ahead of the recent champion. Emmerich also went 1-under on the back nine, and made birdie three times on the front. His birdie on the 1st hole was one of 71 made on the 480-yard, par 5 layout.
“The putter definitely bailed me out on a good amount of holes,” said Emmerich, whose only blemishes included two bogeys. “I had a couple bad bogeys, but I made up for it by birdieing both par fives which you definitely have to do out here since they’re both reachable.”
Organisak and Marcoux finished 4-over and 5-over, respectively. Organisak dug himself a hole early by carding a quadruple bogey on the 11th, his second hole of the round. Mass Amateur runner-up Nick Maccario (Bradford CC) finished 2-over as did Cornell University senior Charlie Dubiel (Old Sandwich GC), who made eagle on the par-5 17th.
Five Massachusetts players finished even-par, including three-time Mass Junior Amateur champion James Imai (George Wright GC).
Former NHL goaltender Mike Dunham, who is playing at his home club, finished with a 7-over 77, as did his clubmate Jack Kingman.
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