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MATTAPOISETT, Massachusetts – For nearly 30 years, the name Frank Vana, Jr. has been associated with top finishes in nearly every Mass Golf Championship Proper and area USGA qualifier, which makes the results from Tuesday’s U.S. Senior Open sectional qualifier at The Bay Club of Mattapoisett that much more special.
The Sudbury native who now resides in Boxford, a 2016 Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame inductee, shot a 1-under par 70 to capture the second of two available spots to the 39th Championship Proper, being contested at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, from June 28-July 1.
Despite efforts each year to advance to the championship since becoming eligible in 2012, this will mark the first time that the reigning George M. Cohen Senior Player of the Year Vana will compete in U.S. Senior Open. Vana was also recognized as the event’s low-amateur, falling one shot shy of 2005 Massachusetts Open champion and Tuesday’s medalist, Eric Egloff, who tallied three birdies and finished his day atop the leaderboard at 2-under 69.
“I’m excited. This is definitely one that I wanted to make and I have been looking forward to it for a long time. I’m happy that I’m going to be able to do it,” said Vana on qualifying for his first U.S. Senior Open Championship. “I’ve been close a bunch of times.”
After making the turn at even par 35 following two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine, Vana made par on holes 10 through 14 and remained in contention coming down the stretch.
He made birdie on the par-5 15th hole and on the par-4 16th hole, and finished with a par on the final hole of the day to come into the clubhouse at 1-under 70.
“That was key because I had just missed a six-footer for birdie right before that on the first par-5,” said Vana on the importance of his back-to-back birdies in the midst of his back nine. “I hit a lot of good shots and played solid on the back. Fortunately, I was in a good groove and I got to 18 and made a par, so it worked out.”
While Vana will be making his inaugural appearance at the championship, the U.S. Senior Open will be a return trip for Maryland’s Egloff, who rebounded from a bogey on the par-4 3rd hole by shooting par or better on the remaining 15 holes to earn medalist honors.
Two years ago at the sectional qualifier contested at Dennis Pines GC, the now 53-year old Egloff shot a 1-under par and advanced to the Championship Proper that was contested at Ohio’s Scioto Country Club. He missed the cut by four shots in an event that was won by Gene Sauers.
While Egloff and Vana have punched their tickets to the U.S. Senior Open, Marshfield’s Geoff Sisk, a six-time winner of the Massachusetts Open who has played in six U.S. Senior Opens, earned first alternate status while Kernwood Country Club head golf professional Frank Dully netted second alternate status. Both Sisk and Dully made birdie on the first hole in a five-way playoff for two alternate spots, before Sisk edged the later for final spots on the leaderboard. This marked the second straight year that Sisk and Dully have claimed first and second alternates at the U.S. Senior Open local qualifier.
Entries are open to professional golfers, amateur golfers, and applicants for reinstatement who have reached their 50th birthday by June 28, 2018. Amateurs and applicants for reinstatement must have an up-to-date Handicap Index® based on ratings for men not exceeding 3.4 under the USGA Handicap System.
Mass Golf will provide coverage for its competitors playing in the U.S. Senior Open from June 28-July 1. Visit MassGolf.org and follow @PlayMassGolf on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest information. To join the conversation, use the hashtag #MassGolf and #USSeniorOpen.