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BRETTON WOODS, New Hampshire – For the first time in his illustrious amateur golf career, Frank Vana, Jr. rose to the top to win a New England Golf Association event, claiming victory in the 23rd New England Senior Amateur Championship on Wednesday at Mount Washington Resort Golf Club. Vana, 58, a member of Marlborough Country Club, shot 2-over 74 on Wednesday but finished with an overall score of 1-under-par 143, to edge defending champion Bob Kearney (Bretwood GC; NH) and Gary Shover (Williston GC; VT) by 1 stroke.
“I’ve been playing in NEGA events for a long time, so it was nice to check that box off,” said Vana, who also won the Lowery (Senior) Division of the Ouimet Memorial Tournament this year. “We play a lot of great tournaments, and it’s nice to win this one.”
Vana’s victory gives Mass Golf a sweep of the three NEGA events held this year, as Megan Buck (Thorny Lea GC) won the New England Women’s Amateur, and John Broderick (Dedham C&PC) won the New England Amateur. It’s the first time since 2009 Mass Golf players have swept the three events, though Massachusetts didn’t win the New England Junior Amateur, which was canceled this year.
Vana teed off in the final group Wednesday and kept a relatively clean card. He made par on the first eight holes but made double bogey on the ninth. He pulled back to even with birdies on the 11th and 12th but dropped into a tie with Dave Szewczul (TPC River Highlands; CT) after making another double bogey on the 14th. Still, he kept his composure and made par on the final four holes. Szewczul fell back to T4 after making bogey twice on the final stretch.
“It didn’t really bother me,” Vana said of the two double-bogies. “I felt in control; I just hit a couple of bad shots. Both are hard holes. I didn’t hit good shots and paid the price.”
Vana missed a 9-footer for birdie on the par-3 16th, but he finished out his round by rolling a 40-foot put to 2 feet, allowing him to tap in for par and win.
Michael Mertes (Crumpin-Fox Club) was the second-best Mass Golf finisher behind Vana, shooting 1-over 73 on Wednesday to finish 1-over total. Tai Lee (Granite Links GC) had the low round Wednesday as his 2-under 70 moved him into T6 at 2-over 146 overall. Lee and Shover were the only players to break par Wednesday.
Jack Kearney (Westover GC), the 2018 NEGA Senior Amateur winner, also finished 2-over total and finished runner-up in the Super Senior (65-plus) Division. Szewczul ended up taking home the title by one stroke.
For more information on the New England Senior Amateur, visit negagolf.org .
Several of the players competing in this event will also play in the 60th Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship, which takes place September 30-October 1 at Willowbend in Mashpee. To see Round 1 starting times, CLICK HERE