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HYDE PARK, Massachusetts – What began as a field of 144 was trimmed to just 32 following the stroke play portion of the 110th Massachusetts Amateur Championship which is being held at the two City of Boston golf courses. Following Monday’s first round which was contested at William J. Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park, the entire field moved to George Wright Golf Course to take part in a second 18 holes to determine the match play bracket.
Those 32 competitors will now look forward to the start of match play on Wednesday beginning at 8:00 a.m. This year’s cut line fell at 4-over par 144 with the final 9 spots being decided in a 10-for-9 sudden-death playoff on Tuesday evening in Hyde Park.
Weather permitting, the first two rounds of match play – round of 32 and round of 16 – will be contested on Wednesday in Hyde Park. The quarterfinals and semifinals will take place on Thursday with the finale coming on Friday when the last two competitors standing will compete in a 36-hole final match. Joining in on the celebration come Friday will be representatives from Mass Golf and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department as well Mayor Marty Walsh.
Andrew O’Leary (Pawtucket CC) and Jackson Lang (Nashawtuc CC) may be a combined one third of the age of Harry McCracken, Jr., but the respect they have for the 92 year old transcends generations.
Both young competitors finished the stroke-play portion of the 110th Massachusetts Amateur Championship with a score of 4-under par 136, which earned them a share of the Harry B. McCracken, Jr. Stroke Play Medalist Award, which is reserved for the individual or individuals who post(s) the lowest cumulative score following the 36-hole stroke-play portion of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship.
The ceremony for stroke-play medalist was held on the patio at George Wright Golf Course on Tuesday evening where McCracken was on site to hand out the medals to both O’Leary, who is 18 years old and Lang, who turned 21 just 10 days ago.
“It is a pleasure to be here to present this award to two very deserving young men,” said McCracken, who has been a fixture at Mass Golf, New England Golf Association (NEGA) and United States Golf Association (USGA) events since 1969 and currently serves as executive secretary/treasurer of the NEGA. “They should be very proud of what they have accomplished here this week.”
Both O’Leary and Lang have been selected over the years to represent Team Massachusetts at the New England Junior Amateur Invitational, which is an event organized by the NEGA. Although he was responsible for the event which featured teams from all six New England states, McCracken, as a long-time Westwood resident and a past Mass Golf president, has always held a special place for Team Massachusetts which welcomed Lang as a member of Team Massachusetts in 2014 and 2015 and then O’Leary in 2015 and 2016.
“The guy is a legend,” said Lang. “He has been around amateur golf for so long. To win an award named after him makes it just a little bit more special for sure.”
Nearly an hour after Lang completed his second round – which was a day-low score of 5-under par 65 – O’Leary drained a birdie putt on his final hole of the day to equal Lang’s mark of 5-under par 65 and capture a share of the top spot.
“After yesterday I wouldn’t have expected to win,” said O’Leary, a Malden Catholic High School graduate who will be attending University of Notre Dame in the fall. “My goal today was to get top 10, shoot a couple under and get a good seed, but coming in first is special. I don’t think that I have ever come in first at an event as big as this. I am definitely really excited.”
This year marks the second year that this award has been given out formerly. In 2017, Steven Dilisio earned the first-ever Harry B. McCracken, Jr. Stroke Play Medalist Award at Charles River Country Club.
When word spread to Jackson Lang that he might have earned medalist honors, a wide smile spread across his face. After posting a 1-over par 71 on Monday at William J. Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park, Lang fired a day-low score of 5-under par 65 at George Wright Golf Course to move from the top quarter of the leaderboard all the way to the very top.
“I was not expecting that,” said Lang, who just completed his senior season at Davidson College where he led the golf team with a 73.93 stroke average. “That is really cool.
One year ago, Lang finished one stroke off medalist pace during stroke play but went on to advance to the semifinals where he was defeated by eventual champion Matt Parziale by a score of 1 up. In just his fifth appearance at this Championship Proper, Lang has now advanced to match play four times and the trend has been positive as he has advanced to the round of 16 (2014), quarterfinals (2016) and most recently the semifinals (2017).
“It is a lot better if you try to have fun with it,” said Lang about his evolving mindset when it comes to match play. “I remember when I first qualified for match play three or four years ago I was really intense about it. I think that I won my first match, but it was really tight. I remember thinking that I was better than the other guy I was playing, but I was really struggling so much. In the last couple of years I have been better about taking it easy and just playing my game and whatever happens will happen.”
With temperatures soaring into the mid 90s on Tuesday, it was only appropriate that Lang rode a hot putter. He began his round by draining a 15-foot putt on his second hole of the day which was a sign of good things to come.
“I was lucky enough to see a 15 footer on two go in which got me in the right mindset for the rest of the round,” said Lang who would make the turn at 1-over par 36 after following up a bogey on the 6th hole with a birdie on the 8th hole.
A bogey on the 10th hole quickly became a distant memory as Lang would make five birdies through his final eight holes. He capped off his round with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.
“Today was about doing the same thing you always try to do which is take it shot by shot,” said Lang. “Luckily for me the putter got really hot today, and I saw some mid-range 20 footers and 15 footers fall. It was all about putting it in the middle of the green and seeing what I could do from there. I was lucky to see some fall.”
While happy with his accomplishment over the past two days, Lang quickly turned his attention and full focus to the next task at hand. As the top seed in the bracket, Lang will face the No. 32 seed, Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich GC), who advanced into match play following the 9-for-10 playoff.
“It is really fun winning medalist for the stroke play part, but the real fun is in the match play and that is what I am here for,” said Lang. “It’s a nice little cherry on top, but going out and playing tomorrow is what it is all about.”
Tuesday’s second day of stroke play for the Massachusetts Amateur Championship was part of the final test for four golfers who will be traveling south next week with even more championship aspirations.
Junior golfers Mark Turner, Dillon Brown, James Imai and Andrew DiPetrillo, all in this week’s field, are among the 156 competitors who will descend on Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey for the 71st playing of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship from July 16-21. Similar to this week’s format, the four Bay Staters will experience two days of stroke play before the field is cut to the top-64 competitors, who will play in match play until a champion is crowned.
Having either qualified for this week’s championship or earned exemption due to previous success, these four competitors are using this week’s state amateur championship as a final tune-up in preparation for facing the top-junior competitors from across the world.
With experience playing in both previous U.S. Junior Amateur Championships, as well as the match play portion of the state amateur championship, Gloucester’s Mark Turner knows the importance of doing well this week in order to perfect next week’s competition.
“There’s 36-holes of stroke play, then you go into the match play, so there is the same format up here and down there,” said Turner, who is in his last year of eligibility for the junior competition. “It’s preparation. This tournament is huge. I love it, and it’s one of my favorite events all year. To be able go down there for my last year, it’ll be fun to hopefully battle out head-to-head, if I make it that far.”
Fellow competitor Dillon Brown, who is scheduled to play a practice round Saturday morning with Turner at Baltusrol, believes this week’s play, which saw both he and Turner advance to the match play competition, will help prepare him for what he is to expect.
“This is a pretty good prep for [the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship],” said the Halifax native, who will be competing in his first USGA Junior Championship Proper. “Same format, two rounds of stroke play and then it’s 32 here and 64 there. The level of play is probably a little stronger there, so it’s probably similar to make match play in both tournaments. I’m really looking forward to playing match play and getting used to the strategies.”
While neither James Imai or Andrew DiPetrillo were able to get past this week’s stroke-play portion, both still felt that it was a good final warmup before next week.
“Essentially, it’s going to be the same mentality of trying to get into match play,” said Imai on the similarities between the Massachusetts Amateur and the upcoming U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. “That is everyone’s goal heading into these tournaments.. It’s going to be really good preparation with trying to grind on a tough course and make match play.”
Like Imai, Andrew DiPetrillo, a recent graduate of Buckingham, Browne and Nichols, who heads to his first U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, said the grind this week will hopefully benefit him on the national stage.
“I really went into this trying to get my mind set right for the two-day stroke play [in hopes of] qualifying for the match play,” explained the Dover native prior to his second round.
Having played primarily match play formats throughout his high school career, compared to the mostly stroke-play format offered in both Mass Golf and USGA qualifiers, DiPetrillo hopes that too will be key, if he were to advance in either Championship.
The quartet of U.S. Junior Amateur bound competitors will join the likes of Wellesley’s Michael Thorbjornsen, who was exempt into the championship field, and Northampton’s Peter Bowie. The first round will be contested on Monday.
Earlier today, Mass Golf and the City of Boston today announced that Mayor Marty Walsh will be on hand at George Wright Golf Course to help crown the 2018 champion.
The awards ceremony will be held at approximately 3:30 p.m. at George Wright Golf Course following the conclusion of the 36-hole final match. Mayor Walsh will be joined by the two finalists as well as representatives from Mass Golf and the Boston Parks & Recreation Department.
“We could not be more excited to have the Mayor of Boston with us when we crown the 110th winner of our Massachusetts Amateur Championship on Friday,” said Jesse Menachem, Mass Golf’s executive director/CEO. “It will be a fitting way to end a historic week of golf at these two City of Boston golf courses.”
To Menachem’s point, this year marks the first time in Bay State golf history that a both the amateur and women’s amateur championships have been held in the same year at fully public/municipal golf courses.
In a display for the support of the Championship and the two City of Boston courses which have undergone nearly a decade of renovations, Mayor Walsh was featured in the summer issue of MassGolfer magazine which was released just prior to the start of the Championship Proper.
CLICK HERE to view that issue which is available online.
The awards presentation will include remarks by Mayor Marty Walsh and the official presentation of The Massachusetts Cup to the winner, who will be crowned following two rounds of stroke play and five matches over a span of five days.
The 2018 Match Play bracket – which will be made up of the top 32 competitors following 36 holes of stroke play – will be released on Tuesday evening following the conclusion of Round 2 at George Wright Golf Course.
The celebration will continue after the awards ceremony with a free live acoustic music performance at George Wright Golf Course featuring Sam Robbins (@samrobbinsmusic) and Jos Vincent (@josvincentmusic) as part of the 2018 Summer Concert Series at George Wright Golf Course.
One of the 144 competitors included in this year’s starting field was Dennis Pines Golf Course member Joe Walker, who has been participating in the Mass Amateur for the past 30 years. Now 61 years of age, one of this week’s oldest competitors, the former Mass Golf Champion was able to reflect on what this tournament means to him as a player.
“My first year playing was in 1988,” said Walker, who said his greatest golf memory was winning the 2015 Mass Father & Son Championship with his son Mike. “At the time, I was playing at my club against great players like Kevin Carey, so I figured why not go to the state level, and I have been playing ever since.”
As a long-standing competitor who has enjoyed several of the state’s top courses as a competitor, Walker says he was amazed by the conditions of George Wright Golf Course, a city-owned course hosting its first ever state Amateur Championship. Having also played George Wright numerous times over his golf career, Walker has been able to see the growth the Hyde Park course has undergone.
“I’ve played here in a bunch of different tournaments at this golf course, and it is unbelievable. It’s a great test of golf and conditions are exquisite,” said Walker, who finished his Tuesday round at 4-over 74. “Every year Mass Golf, the quality of the staff and how they run the tournaments, gets better and better, every year for 30 years.”
While Walker is a seasoned-vet when it comes to the Mass Amateur, a fellow Cape Cod resident was taking in the championship-like experience for only the second time in his young career.
Will Campbell, the youngest amateur player in the field, still loved the experience even if it doesn’t quite match the 31 year career that Walker has had.
“It was a lot of fun, I didn’t play that great but it’s a good experience,” said Campbell, who finished the two-round stroke play portion of the tournament at 74-77-151. “I definitely left some shots out there but its ok, I can come back next year and hopefully do better.”
Despite the desired results, being able to play with golfers older than him was also something that he could take away from the experience.
“There’s a ton of people here that play college golf or even higher levels and it’s really cool to be a part of that for someone who is so young like me,” said Campbell.
As the second day of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship moved to George Wright Golf Course, after the completion of Monday’s round at Franklin Park Golf Course, Dennis Roache, who serves as the Director of Administration of Boston Parks & Recreation Department at the City of Boston, stated that hosting the state’s top amateur championships at the City of Boston golf courses is a great opportunity to display the hard work done over the past decade.
“I think this is kind of the exclamation point on what we’ve done,” explained Roache, one of the key individuals responsible for bringing the amateur championships to the City. “This just shows it to a whole new group of golfers. The impact of hosting this kind of event, the press that it has received and the reaction that you see from the people who walk off the golf course is very pleasing. We are literally being compared to private country clubs in terms of conditions and things like that.”
Not only is hosting the Massachusetts Amateur a great way to showcase Boston’s two historic courses, but Roache believes it serves a much greater purpose.
“It’s great for us, but it’s just a great thing in general for municipal golf,” said Roache.
Despite the unique change in venue during the course of the championship, Roache states that players have had nothing but praise for the conditions of the course.
“Everything has been extremely positive,” said Roache. “A lot of these guys out here play at private country clubs. They’ve remarked to us both here and at Franklin Park about the conditions of our course, our greens in particular, saying that a lot of them are playing as good or better than their courses.”
Andy Drohen, a member of The Ranch Golf Club, is no stranger to George Wright, as he won the Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship here in 2012. Six years later, he still feels the same way he did then after hoisting the trophy.
“I thought the conditions were great,” said Drohen. “The residents of the City of Boston have a great couple of courses they can play at a great price. With the conditions the courses are in and for the price, it’s really a great deal. It’s kind of like having two private courses with a public rate.”
Mark Mungeam, president of Mungeam Cornish Golf Design, who is responsible for the improvements for both this week’s championship courses, stated one of the things that he is trying to restore is the true Donald Ross design that both George Wright and Franklin Park originally had.
“George Wright is a true Ross design,” said Mungeam. “We have been working to try and restore it and get it back to what it was.”
To Roache, the work completed at George Wright by Mungeam and his team to restore the original Donald Ross feature has paid off.
“One of the guys who just came off the course was saying the golf course is just playing beautifully,” said Roache. “He said that like a true Donald Ross, if you are in the rough, it’s quite challenging. But it’s just the way it should be.”
Match play represents an opportunity to come see golf at its roots and at its best.
If you can’t make it to George Wright Golf Course this week, here is a summary of the coverage you can expect online from Wednesday through the final 36-hole match on Friday.
Round of 32 – 3-hole score updates for all 16 matches
Round of 16 – hole-by-hole scores for all 8 matches
Quarterfinals – hole-by-hole score & on-course Twitter updates
Semifinals – hole-by-hole score & on-course Twitter updates
Final Match – hole-by-hole score & on-course Twitter updates and hole-by-hole descriptions
Highlights and competitor interviews will be posted following the end of each day. In addition, Mass Golf Photographer David Colt will be in site on Wednesday and Friday and Videographer Don Coyne will produce final-round highlights on Friday. For complete coverage of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, visit MassGolf.org or follow Mass Golf on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @PlayMassGolf and by using the hashtag, #MassAm.
They may not have made the cut this year, but the following competitors continue to impress both on and off the course.
Brian Faulk: A native of Andover, Faulk is currently a chemistry teacher and has been playing golf for 24 years. Faulk attended Stanford University (BS) and Harvard University (AM), and currently serves as golf coach at Phillips Andover, where he has coached against a number of competitors such as Steven DiSillio. He also enjoys studying the Civil War.
Kyle Vincze: A native of North Reading, Vincze is a current employee of The Spyglass Collection. He was previously the golf captain at DePaul University. His greatest golf memory is playing at Pebble Beach with his parents, and his best finish in a championship was top 10. He enjoys hockey, fishing and roaming the city.
Matt Miller: A native of Plymouth, Miller been playing golf for 25 years and has recorded three holes-in-one and won the Concord Four-Ball in 2012. He has advanced to the Mass Amateur Championship five times. His favorite golf course is Taconic Golf Club, and he enjoys traveling and spending time with his family.
Andrew Lilley: A native of Belmont, Lilley attended Belmont High School, where he was a three-time First Team All-League Selection. His greatest golf memory was participating in the 2012 Mass Amateur, where he qualified as a 16 year old and was interviewed with playing competitors for local news about being one of the youngest competitors in the field. He also enjoys playing basketball and is currently studying for his CPA Exam.
Connor Henderson: A native of Southborough, Henderson has recorded a hole in one during a practice round for 2018 Northeast Conference Championship. This is second Mass Amateur Championship appearance. He was the 2015 Gately Cup Champion and his favorite golf course is TPC Sawgrass. He is originally from Danville, California.
Justin Turbeville: A native of Sandwich, Turbeville is a current caddy and outdoor staff member at Cape Cod National Golf Course. He recorded a 36.9 stroke average while at Sturgis Charter Public School in Hyannis and was the Cape and Islands MVP, individual champion, and Boston Globe All Scholastic. He also enjoys skiing.
Jonathan Elkins: A native of South Deerfield, Elkins will be entering his junior year at the Taft School. He achieved All Founders League in 2017 and 2018. Only junior captain in entire school. Tied for 1st at 2017 CT Section Junior PGA and placed 3rd at the 2017 US Open Local Qualifying. Favorite golf course is Crumpin Fox Club and also enjoys playing baseball.
Billy Trainor: A native of Cambridge, Trainor attended Arlington Catholic where he achieved League MVP and Boston Herald and Boston Globe All Scholastic. He also attended Skidmore College where he was GCSAA All-America Scholar NCAA Div. III and UCAA Freshman of the Year. He enjoys playing basketball and as of December is a few father to first child Finley.
Joseph Iacona: A native of Berlin, Maryland, Iacona is currently a R&D Engineer and has been playing golf for 12 years. His greatest golf memory is playing TPC Sawgrass with his father, and his favorite golf course is The Country Club.
Mike Metcalf: A native of Longmeadow, Metcalf played golf for his grandfather at Western New England University and was a two-time Academic All American. His best score recorded is a 67, and he has advanced to the Mass Amateur Championship Proper two times. His favorite course is the Country Club of North Carolina. His uncles Billy and Bobby Downes are both PGA Professionals.
This year’s cut line was 4-over par 144 and a total of 10 competitors had to play off for the final match play spots. The cut line fell at exactly 32 players in 2008 and again in 2009. Playoffs were held for the final spots the past nine years.
Here is a look at the cut-line through the past 10 years.
|Year||Cut Line Score||Site|
|2018||144 (+4)||William J. Devine GC / George Wright GC|
|2017||147 (+6)||Charles River CC|
|2016||147 (+5)||Taconic GC|
|2015||146 (+6)||Oak Hill CC|
|2014||148 (+8)||Kernwood CC|
|2013||148 (+8)||Longmeadow CC|
|2012||147 (+7)||Tedesco CC|
|2011||147 (+7)||Wyantenuck CC|
|2010||151 (+7)||Myopia Hunt Club|
|2009||150 (+8)||The Country Club|
|2008||151 (+11)||The Kittansett Club|