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HAMPDEN, Massachusetts – Beginning on Monday, June 11, the 2018 Massachusetts Open Championship, featuring 150 of the area’s top golfers, will begin play at GreatHorse for what remains the only Mass Golf Championship Proper with a professional purse. All competitors in the field will compete in two 18-hole rounds over the first two days of competition, while the low 50 scorers and ties, or anyone within seven strokes of the leader after 36 holes, will advance to Wednesday’s final round.
This year’s Championship, the 109th of its kind, features 99 professional players and 51 amateur competitors. Two competitors who are listed as professional are also awaiting amateur reinstatement. As in past years, the 2018 Massachusetts Open is one of the “true” open events as amateur and professionals from any state or country are eligible to enter. With a professional purse of $75,000 – the Massachusetts Open will once again offer one of the largest purses in the New England area.
Of the 150 in the field, 66 advanced from one of six qualifiers that were held across the Bay State between May 9 and May 29 while the remainder of the field was compiled via exempt competitors and those who originally were named alternates at respective qualifiers.
West Suffield, Connecticut’s Jason Thresher, winner of the 2017 and 2016 Massachusetts Open Championships, will look to become only the fifth competitor in the 109-year history of the Championship Proper to win three straight tournaments. Prior to Thresher, Dana Quigley (1982-84) was the last three-peat winner while Paul Harney (1967-1970), Harold McSpaden (1936-38) and Alex Ross (1906-10) are the others to accomplish the feat.
Of the 150 competitors in the field, 52 competitors list their residency outside of Massachusetts.
• Connecticut (18)
• New York (9)
• New Hampshire (7)
• Maine (4)
• New Jersey (4)
• Rhode Island (3)
• Vermont (3)
• Maryland (2)
• Pennsylvania (1)
• Wisconsin (1)
Seven competitors who hold their primary membership out of GreatHorse will compete on their home course for the 2018 Massachusetts Open. Club President Guy Antonacci and head golf professional Billy Downes join Matt Naumec, Billy Walthouse, Joe Brosseau, Chris Dejohn and Pat Pio III. Antonacci & Downes received exemption due to their affiliation with the host club, while Naumec & Walthouse were exempt for their placement amongst the top-10 finishers and ties in the 2017 Richard D. Haskell Player of the Year standings. Brosseau, Dejohn & Pio all secured spots to the Open Championship via one of the six qualifiers.
With seven competitors in the field, GreatHorse is also the club most represented by competitors. They are followed by Bass Rocks GC, George Wright GC, Kernwood CC and Nashawtuc CC, who each have three members in the field.
Until this past week, seven competitors in the 2018 Mass Open field were not entirely sure which Open they would be competing in. Josh Hillman (Taconic GC), Mike Welch (Quincy, Mass), Matt Naumec (Wilbraham/Great Horse), Billy Walthouse (Longmeadow / GreatHorse) , Sean Gaudette (South Hadley), Steven Burak (North Easton/Thorny Lea GC) and Andrew O’Leary (Norfolk / Pawtucket CC) had all advanced from U.S. Open local qualifying, held during the first and second weeks of May, and netted spots to the sectional qualifying round, which took place around the country on Monday, June 4. Of the 11 competitors with Massachusetts ties who advanced to sectional qualifying, only South Hadley’s Richy Werenski advanced to play at Shinnecock Hills beginning on June 14. Werenski will join exempt players Matt Parziale and Peter Uihlein next week in New York.
Cohasset resident and Boston College HS sophomore Jack O’Donnell (Boston Golf Club) is the youngest competitor in the field at age 16, while Lakeville’s Mike Arter (Crestwood CC) is the oldest at age 62. O’Donnell advanced from the CC of Wilbraham qualifier on May 17 whereas Arter advanced from the Eastward Ho! qualifier on May 23.
In addition to two-time reigning Open champion Jason Thresher, each of the previous five champions are also in the field, as Joe Harney (2015), Ian Thimble (2014), Evan Harmeling (2013), Mike Welch (2012) and Kyle Gallo (2011) are each set to compete beginning Monday. 2008 champion James Renner joins Geoff Sisk (’95, ‘97, ’02, ’04, ’06, ’07) and John Elliot (1991) as the other past champions in the field.
For complete coverage of the Massachusetts Open, visit MassGolf.org or follow Mass Golf on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @PlayMassGolf and by using the hashtag, #MassOpen