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HYDE PARK, Massachusetts – A historic week of golf will come to an end on Friday when the final match of the 110th Massachusetts Amateur Championship will be held at George Wright Golf Course.
Following two rounds of stroke play and two days of match play, only Herbie Aikens (Old Sandwich GC) and Patrick Frodigh (Dedham C&PC) remain standing and have thus earned the right to face off in the 36-hole final match which will be held on Friday beginning at 8:00 a.m.
For Frodigh, tomorrow represents a chance to win a title that he came one match short of winning in 2015, while Aikens will enjoy what will be his first career appearance in the finals.
Following the completion of the final match, a special awards presentation, which will include Mayor Marty Walsh, as well as representatives from Mass Golf and the City of Boston, will be held on the back patio at George Wright Golf Course.
A free live acoustic concert featuring Sam Robbins (@samrobbinsmusic) and Jos Vincent (@josvincentmusic) and sponsored by the City of Boston will immediately follow. Spectators are welcome to attend as all events are free of charge.
“One more to go. It isn’t done yet.”
Those were the words of Patrick Frodigh after he finished off Alex Jamieson (Marshfield CC) in the semifinal match of the 110th Massachusetts Amateur Championship Thursday afternoon by a final score of 2&1.
After edging reigning state amateur champion Matt Parziale in the morning round, ensuring there would be a new champion crowned on Friday, Frodigh got off to a hot start against Jamieson. After his opponent made bogey on the first hole to give him a 1-up lead, Frodigh, a former player at Elon University, made birdie on the second hole to extend his advantage early in the match.
“I had a good start,” said Frodigh. “Solid par on one and a good birdie on two.”
After halving each of the next two holes, Frodigh got into some trouble on the fifth and sixth holes that brought the match back to even – the same spots where he had struggled in the Round of 16 match the day before.
“Alex quickly came back and won two holes on me,” said Frodigh.
A missed putt for par on the 5th hole, followed by a shot that found deep rough to the left of the green on 6th hole, that resulted in his second straight bogey and an All-Square on the standard bearer sign.
“It was a great match all day,” said Frodigh following his round. “We were pretty much back and forth the whole day. It was just a fun day.”
After halving the 7th hole, Frodigh regained his lead for the final time, first two-putting the 8th hole from the left of the green and then making birdie on the 9th when his second shot landed only 10 feet shy of the cup, pushing his lead to 2 up as the duo made the turn to the back nine.
The older of the two competitors, Frodigh, aged 23, missed a putt on 12 that allowed Jamieson to cut the lead back to one with six holes remaining.
A birdie on the par-5 15th hole that brought the match to 2 up with three holes remaining, providing Frodigh a shift of momentum that he felt helped him down the stretch.
“That was a big putt I made on 15,” said Frodigh. “That was the turning point, I felt like, in my head, going 2 up with three to play. I had control at that point and I just had to hit shots in the right position.”
Despite Jamieson bringing the match back to within one on the 16th hole, the result of a missed putt for par, he struggled on the 17th hole when his first shot fell short of the uphill green and his second attempt to reach the green couldn’t surpass its lip.
Frodigh’s putt for birdie fell short by less than a foot, but Jamieson gave him the par and the match, as it concluded by a final score of 2&1.
It was a tale of two nines on Thursday afternoon, but in the end Herbie Aikens was glad that his roller-coaster journey delivered him into the finals of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship for the first time in his career.
Aikens, who earlier in the day was able to deliver a come-from-behind victory over Tommy Parker on the 18th hole, found himself trailing 3-down to 18-year-old Andrew O’Leary at the turn during his afternoon semifinal match. It was an opening nine which saw O’Leary hit every green in regulation and post a 2-under par 33.
“I fell behind early in this one,” said Aikens. “[Andrew O’Leary] is a great player. Man he hit his driver straighter than almost anyone I have ever seen, outside of maybe Matt [Parziale]. He just striped it all day. He was tough. I just tried to hang in there and see what I could do. I tried to not get too down.”
After struggling to find his rhythm on the front nine, Aikens played the back nine with a renewed confidence and a razor-sharp iron game. He made two straight pars – on the 10th and 11th holes – before sending his iron approach on the 399-yard, par 4 12th hole to five feet to set up a birdie and to win the hole. It was his first birdie since the second hole of the match and it drew him to within one of O’Leary.
“I’m not going to lie. Turning to the back nine down three was a little discouraging, but I started to chip away and got a little momentum,” said Aikens. “Then I made a big birdie on 12 which kind of got me going. I said, ‘we still got a chance at this.’ It was fun.”
Despite missing fairways during the early part of the back nine, O’Leary scrambled and maintained his 1-up lead until he sent his second shot on the 496-yard, par 5 15th hole into the greenside bunker. He was unable to get up and down for birdie and suffered a loss of hole.
“I struck the ball really well on the front,” said O’Leary who will be attending the University of Notre Dame in the fall. “I don’t know if I lost energy or what on the back, but I shot a couple over and that isn’t good enough when you are this far into the tournament.”
Aikens continued to find fairways and greens and it was on the very next hole – the 342-yard, par 4 16th hole – when he would finally take his first lead of the match. O’Leary’s approach to the elevated green went long and was lost in the back hazard.
“I had 108 uphill and I played it like 115 thinking that was the right yardage,” said O’Leary of that 16th hole which he lost with a bogey. “I don’t know if a gust of wind hit it or what. I don’t know what happened on that one but it got away from me.”
Although Aikens would three putt the next green, he did not falter on the last hole. He closed out the match with a two-putt par to earn him a spot in the finals against Patrick Frodigh.
“This has been a good year,” said Aikens who has advanced as far as the round of 16 in this event. “I’ve been practicing a lot more. I have been working on the short game, and it’s starting to pay off, obviously. It’s been good for me. I’ve always been a pretty good ball striker, but the short game has always held me back. I’ve committed my time to chipping and putting and it’s made the game a little more fun.”
In what might be considered the biggest upset of the Championship, Patrick Frodigh defeated defending champion Matt Parziale by a score of 3 & 2 in the quarterfinals. It was a match in which Frodigh never trailed and one that he closed out with a meticulous par on the 16th hole.
“That was a lot of fun,” said Frodigh. “It was very mentally exhausting. I got in and was very tired in the clubhouse. But it was a lot of fun. We had a great match, and I hadn’t really played him in a match one-on-one in a long time. It was good to be back at it with him.”
Frodigh’s march into the semifinals has been an impressive one as he had to knock off tough competition in last year’s quarterfinalist David Spitz and then stroke play co-medalist Jackson Lang to earn a showdown with Parziale in this morning’s quarterfinals.
Frodigh is coming off his final season of eligibility for Elon University and is by no means a stranger to this event. Three years ago, he advanced to the finals of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship where he was defeated by Nick McLaughlin, who went on that year to capture the 2015 New England Amateur Championship and be named the 2017 Massachusetts Player of the Year.
Interestingly, Frodigh’s first match play experience came that year in this event. Fast forward three years and Frodigh is excelling in that format.
Heading into the quarterfinals, momentum appeared to be on Parziale’s side who had taken last week off in order to move into his new home in Brockton. He eased his way through the first two days of stroke play and then needed just 31 holes to get through his first two matches.
Thursday was a different story, however, as Parziale did not card one birdie on the front side and suffered what proved to be a devastating stretch of three straight bogies beginning on the 5th hole. By the turn, Frodigh had built a 4-up lead that Parziale could not overcome despite playing the first six holes on the back nine at 2-under par.
“I just played poor today,” said Parziale. “I had a real bad stretch on the front nine, I think that it was five, six and seven, and made some really bad shots. I played well after that. That was good and made somewhat of a good attempt at a comeback and then I made a bad putt there.”
The putt Parziale was referring to was a birdie attempt on the 343-yard, par 4 16th hole which he left well short. He was unable to make his long par putt which gave Frodigh the victory.
“It is a long week and you have to play well every round,” said Parziale. “You can’t get away with a round like I just played. That is why the best player this week wins.”
While disappointed with the result today, Parziale has much to look forward to. Parziale will head to Niagara Country Club in New York next week for the Porter Cup on July 18-21 and then will return home to compete in the 2018 Ouimet Memorial Tournament on July 25-27.
He will then focus his attention on getting married in early August before heading to California for the 2018 U.S. Amateur Championship on August 13-19.
“It is a busy next four or five weeks,” said Parziale. “I have been playing well, so no issues. I could have played better today is all.”
Alex Jamieson and Chris Francoeur are no strangers to each other. The two collegiate players have grown up playing the junior golf circuit in Massachusetts. They know each other well and they know each other’s games perhaps even better.
The quarterfinal matchup was destined to be a grind and it proved that way on Thursday morning.
The two friends battled back and forth with neither being able to extend a lead more than 1-up through the first 12 holes. Despite playing the front nine at 2-over par 37, Francoeur still found himself just one back of Jamieson at the turn.
“I am happy that I made it this far,” said Francoeur, who is coming off his first season at the University of Rhode Island. “Alex and I were neck and neck all day, and then I made two bad swings coming in and that kind of killed me but I am happy with how I played all week.”
The turnaround came on the 377-yard, par 4 13th hole where Jameison – who one hole earlier saw the match go back to all square following a birdie by Francoeur – made a birdie putt to go back to 1 up.
“I hit it in a great spot and had pretty much uphill 20 feet left to right and I was feeling pretty good about,” said Jameison. “I have been putting pretty well starting on the second match yesterday and into today. My short game is really good again in this match, and I hit it well again so that was fun.”
Francoeur made bogey on the very next hole and then sent his drive on the 496-yard, par 4 15th hole into the trees. He was forced to play his provisional which led to a bogey and a loss of the hole. He was 3 down with three to play.
“I was putting well and chipping it close on almost every hole,” said Francoeur. “I thought that I hit the ball better today than I did the past three days, but Alex just played better than me the last few holes.”
The only miscue on Jamieson’s card that round was a double bogey on the 414-yard, par 4 5th hole. From that point on he played 1-under par golf with 10 pars and one birdie. He closed out the match with a textbook par on the 343-yard, par 4 16th hole for the 3 & 2 victory.
“That is awesome. My goal coming into this tournament was to make match play so I could get into Brookline next year,” said Jamieson referencing next year’s Massachusetts Amateur Championship host site of The Country Club. “In my opinion I think that a lot of players had that on their minds too for sure. To make it this far already I think that it’s awesome and try to have a blast this afternoon.”
Andrew O’Leary got one step closer to winning the 2018 Massachusetts Amateur Championship following his 3 & 2 victory over Sean Fitzpatrick Thursday morning in the quarterfinal round. In a rematch from a Round of 32 duel in last year’s championship at Charles River Country Club, in which Fitzpatrick came out on top, it was the younger O’Leary who’s game plan prevailed this time around.
“It was always a pretty close match. I birdied the first hole to get 1 Up and I was basically either one or two up the whole day until 12 I won to go 3 up,” said O’Leary.
Following a Fitzpatrick bogey on the fifth hole, the last George Wright GC member in the field was able to bounce right back with a birdie on six to bring the match within one, while O’Leary continued play during a streak of 12 straight pars that began on the second hole and lasted through the 13.
While still making pars heading into the turn, O’Leary built on his lead when Fitzpatrick’s approach shot fell beyond the green.
“I saw Sean hit it over,” said O’Leary. “I had been back there before when I played here and I knew it was kind of dead back there and that it would be a tough up and down. I actually switched clubs and just went to something that was going to be in the middle of the green just to make par.”
On the 12th and 13th holes, Fitzpatrick recorded back-to-back bogeys that allowed O’Leary to extend his lead to as many as 4-up, and despite getting one back on the 14th to see O’Leary lead drop to 3-up, the pair halved each of the next two holes as the match was settled, 3 & 2.
Herbie Aikens played error-free golf through nine holes against Tommy Parker on Thursday morning. Through his first nine holes, Aikens made eight pars and one birdie but he found himself just 1 up at the turn.
The reason why Aikens was unable to separate himself from his opponent was because Parker had made nine straight pars. While Parker continued to make pars on the back nine, Aikens gave up his lead after a bogey on 11th hole and then a double bogey on the 12th hole. All of a sudden his lead had been reversed.
Aikens quickly drew even with Parker with a birdie on the 377-yard, par 4 13th hole. Although he would not make another birdie in the match, the two competitors saw the lead change three more times before Aikens delivered the final blow on the 18th hole when he managed to make par to win the hole and capture the 1-up victory.