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BELMONT, Massachusetts – What originally started as 16 players quickly dwindled down to four on Wednesday at Belmont Country Club as the round of 16 and quarterfinal matches were completed at the 100th playing of the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship.
Following the completion of Wednesday’s two matches – only the likes of James Imai, Jack Tobin, David Rogers and Christian Emmerich remain. They will return tomorrow for the semifinal and final matches of the Championship Proper beginning at 8:00 a.m.
(1) James Imai Def. (9) Conner Willett, 5&4
He entered the match play portion of the tournament as the one seed following a two-day stroke play total of 6-under 136. Now, Brookline’s James Imai (George Wright GC) is only two more match wins away from becoming only the 10th player to win multiple state junior titles. The 17-year old Imai defeated Conner Willett, 5&4, Wednesday afternoon to punch his ticket to the semifinal round here at Belmont Country Club Thursday morning.
“It means a lot because Mass Golf, like we’ve said, has gotten so good over the years and basically everyone here at match play has a shot at winning,” said Imai on advancing to the semifinal round. “To take down two of your competitors in the fashion I did was sweet. I am looking forward to playing again tomorrow.”
After defeating the 16-seed Jared Mscisz in the morning round, Imai was paired up against Willett in the afternoon, one of three-competitors in the Pre-Junior division to advance to the match play portion of the championship. For the second straight round, Imai defeated his opponent by the same 5&4 score.
After Willett bogeyed two of his first three holes to give Imai an early lead, the elder James was able to extend that lead to as many as 4 up through six holes.
“Four and six were both holes Conner found trouble on, so I kind of just played smart,” said Imai. “On four, I had a wedge shot and I hit it to three feet, which should do it for the position he was in. On six, he also found trouble off the tee and I was twenty feet from the hole.”
With more than an hour between his two matches due to his fast play in his first match, Imai thought that played a factor in his second match.
Imai added, “I think the biggest difference was that I had an hour of rest and he only had half an hour. He played great after those five holes or whatever and we had a match and he had to make birdies to win. He is a great player and has a chance of winning one of these in the future.”
After going 4-up through six holes, Willett cut into the lead on the 7th hole after Imai tallied a bogey, but on the back nine of the match, Imai countered a bogey by Willett on 12 with back-to-back birdies on 13 and 14 to secure the victory.
(4) Jack Tobin Def. (12) Ethan Whitney, 4&3
Marlborough Country Club’s Jack Tobin will face James Imai in the semifinal round of the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship after Tobin bested Oak Hill’s Ethan Whitney Wednesday afternoon.
It wasn’t until the third hole that the match saw its first lead change as Tobin made birdie on the par-3 third hole to go 1-Up, then added to the lead with another birdie on the next par-3, the 200-yard fifth hole.
“It was a tough start, but on the third hole, I hit a six-iron in the morning that didn’t catch at all,” said Tobin, one of five junior golfers already selected to play for Bay State at the New England Junior Amateur Championship next week. “I kind of pushed in that bunker and I think I made double. In the afternoon, I hit the six-iron perfect and it went 15 feet behind. I happened to roll in the putt. Same thing on five. I hit the same six iron to two feet. Two birdies on par-threes is great.”
Tobin made par on each of the next six holes and eight of the next ten holes, while Whitney tallied three bogeys in the same span to set up a semifinal match with James Imai Thursday morning.
“I was looking forward to this event all year because I was exempt from last year. It is one of my personal majors,” said Tobin. “I have three or four that I really want to do well in and this is definitely one of them. I’ve played with James since I was probably eight years old in U.S. Kids stuff and we played in the stroke play second round this year and we both played really well together, so it should be a great match.”
(15) David Rogers Def. (7) Max Hutter, 20 holes
Needham’s David Rogers got his first lead of the afternoon match when his opponent bogeyed the par-3 third hole, a lead that would remain until the sixth hole when Hutter brought the match back to even with his first of four birdies on the afternoon. Hutter won the ninth hole with a made par to Rogers bogey, then birdied the tenth hole to extend the lead to 2 up. Rogers countered, however, shooting par-bogey to Hutter’s bogey-double on 13 and 14, setting up a nail biter to the end.
On the 18th hole, Rogers needing to win the hole to continue play, he hit his approach shot from 110 yards out into the wind to three-feet then sank the putt to send the match to extra holes.
“I figured Max was in front of the green and I didn’t have many options,” said Rogers following his match.
After both carded matching cards on the 19th hole, Rogers birdied the 20th hole to win the match.
“It was 115 into the win and earlier in the day, in this match actually, I hit it over into the bunker and was fortunate to get it up and down,” said Rogers. “I figured I wasn’t going to do that there a second time, so I hit kind of the same shot I did on 18 and it worked out well.”
(3) Christian Emmerich Def. (6) Peter Bowie, 7&6
In what turned out to be the largest victory of the two rounds of match play Wednesday, Swampscott’s Christian Emmerich bested Peter Bowie, 7&6, to punch his ticket to Thursday’s semifinal round.
Jumping out to a quick lead, Emmerich birdied the first hole at Belmont Country Club, setting the pace for the remainder of his round.
“I kind of snap hooked a drive, but I got lucky because it kicked into the middle of the fairway and I had like 190 in and it was just a good cut 4 iron for me, it almost went in,” said Emmerich on his start. “I landed 10 feet past and I knocked in the putt.”
From there, as the match play format often does, the focus was on his opponent rather than focusing on only carding the lowest score. That mindset helped him Wednesday.
“Yeah I was able to really fire at pins when I saw when my opponent was not in the best of positions and I wasn’t behind a tree or something, then I could just play safe and go for the middle,” said Emmerich. “It was a lot of firing at pins and trying to make as many birdies as possible.”
Emmerich went 2 up when his opponent bogeyed the third hole, and despite a Bowie birdie on the sixth hole to cut the lead back to within one, Emmerich shot par or better over the next six holes while Bowie tallied six straight bogeys that saw the lead escalate from 1 up to 7 up.
Click on the thread below to see our @PlayMassGolf Twitter Account and view the coverage from today’s first day of match play at the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship.
2016 #MassJunior champion James Imai, the No. 1 seed in this year’s tournament, kicks off match play here at Belmont Country Club!
We have live scoring for all 8 of our groups this morning here at Belmont!
— #MassGolf (@PlayMassGolf) August 8, 2018
(1) James Imai Def. (16) Jared Mscisz, 5&4
In the first match of the 2018 Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship round of 16, stroke play medalist and the tournament’s number one seed James Imai (George Wright GC) defeated Jared Mscisz (Beverly G&TC), 5&4 in the first match. After Mscisz doubled the first hole to give Imai the lead, Imai tallied the first of his four birdies on the par-4 second hole. A bogey my Mscisz on the third pushed Imai’s lead to 3 up and by the seventh hole, the 2016 Massachusetts Junior Amateur champion Imai was 6 up on his competitor. Back to back birdies on the 11th and 12th hole by Mscisz brought the match within four, but after matching pars on the 13th hole, Imai finished off his opponent with a birdie on the par-4 14th hole.
(9) Conner Willett Def. (8) Aiden Mccloskey, 1 Up
Conner Willett (Charles River CC), the 2016 Massachusetts Young Golfers’ Amateur champion, and one of three Pre-Junior competitors to advance to the match play portion of this year’s Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship, bested Aiden Mccloskey (The Haven CC) in 18 holes. Mccloskey registered three bogeys and a double in his four holes to build a big deficit early in the match, but four bogeys by Willett over the next eight holes brought the match within reach heading down the stretch. Mccloskey made birdie to Willett’s par on the 500-yard par-5 17th hole, but there simply wasn’t enough time to complete the come-back. Both competitors carded pars on the 18th hole to end the match, 1 Up, in favor of Willett.
(4) Jack Tobin Def. (13) Collin Fitzpatrick, 3&1
Collin Fitzpatrick jumped out to an early lead in his match, birdying the first hole to Tobin’s bogey. On each of the next seven holes of the front side, however, Tobin and Fitzpatrick swapped bogeys and the lead never extended beyond one to that extent, as the match moved to all square at the turn. After bogeying the par-4 10th hole to fall back one in the head-to-head match, Tobin rebounded with a birdie on the 13th hole, then regained the lead after Fitzpatrick bogeyed both the 14th and 15th holes. Back to back birdies by Tobin on the 16th and 17th concluded the Round of 16 match.
(12) Ethan Whitney Def. (5) Eric Boulger, 21 Holes
Eric Boulger was 5-down after 11 holes in his Round of 16 match Wednesday at Belmont Country Club, but came all the way back to force extra holes against Oak Hill Country Club’s Ethan Whitney. Boulger, this year’s Pre-Junior champion, made par on the 12th hole to Whitney’s bogey and then made bogey to Whitney’s double on the 13th. His only birdie on the 15th hole, followed by a bogey and a par on the next two holes, brought the match to all square after 17 holes. The two tallied matching cards on the 18th – 20th holes, but on the 21st, Whitney’s par to Boulger’s double ended the match and saw Whitney advance to the quarterfinal round.
(15) David Rogers Def. Liam Gill, 2&1
The match remained all square through three holes, but after a birdie on the fourth hole that sent Gill 1 Up, Rogers was able to bring the match back to all square by the eighth hole with a birdie of his own. Rogers recaptured the lead on the 13th hole when Gill registered a bogey, and a birdie on the 14th hole pushed the lead to 2 up, a lead that would remain until the end.
(7) Max Hutter Def. (10) Xavier Marcoux, 6&4
The match between Hutter, of Weston GC, and Marcoux, of Nashawtuc CC, was all square after one, but the higher seeded Hutter quickly grabbed a lead and never relinquished. He birdied the par-4 second hole and jumped to 2 up over his opponent with a par on the third hole. Hutter would maintain his 2 up lead through the turn, but a double bogey on the 10th hole and a bogey on the 12th hole saw the lead double. Hutter’s par-birdie-birdie finish pushed the lead to 6 up and Marcoux ran out of room, finishing the match by that score.
(3) Christian Emmerich Def. (14) Nicholas Cummings, 5&4
Kernwood Country Club reigning club champion Christian Emmerich started his round bogey-birdie-bogey and trailed after three holes, but then won five of his next six holes to take a dominating 4 up lead over Marlborough Country Club’s Nicholas Cummings in the Round of 16. With a comfortable lead making the turn, Emmerich birdied the par-4 13th hole on the back nine to take out Cummings, 5&4.
(6) Peter Bowie Def. (11) John Cammarano, 2 Up
In the final match of the morning’s Round of 16, rising Bryant University freshman Peter Bowie took down Wellesley Country Club’s John Cammarano, 2 up. With the match square after two holes, Bowie took his first lead of the day on the par-3 third thanks to a bogey by his opponent. A Bowie bogey on the ninth hole saw the match head to the back nine all tied up, and despite a bogey on 10 that saw Cammarano quickly take a lead, back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th holes helped him regain the lead before a birdie on the 18th sealed the victory.
After falling in 21 holes in what was the longest round of 16 match of the 100th Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship, Eric Boulger (Walpole) received some good news.
Due to an administrative error which did not have Boulger’s date of birth noted correctly in the scoring system, it was determined that Boulger, who finished the stroke-play portion of the event with a score of even par 142, was the Pre-Junior Champion.
He finished three strokes ahead of Conner Willett (Charles River CC), who had received the Pre-Junior Champion trophy the day before.
Although the recognition came a day late, the accomplishment from Boulger could not be diminished as the 15-year-old put on an impressive display during the event’s first two rounds of stroke play at Belmont Country Club.
Boulger, a sophomore at Xaverian Brothers High School, made five birdies on day one to post a 2-under par 69 on Monday. He followed that up on Thursday with a 2-over par 73 which more than secured himself a spot in match play. He entered match play as the fifth overall seed. He was also just one of three Pre-Junior aged competitors who advanced to match play from the starting field of 120 competitors.
Finishing second in the Pre-Junior Division once the administrative records were corrected as Willett who finished the stroke-play portion of the event with a two-round score of 3-over par 145. He was one stroke ahead of Ethan Whitney (Oak Hill CC) and two better than Weston Jones (Charter Oak CC).
Finishing one back of Whitney was Jones at 6-over par 148. John Broderick (Dedham C&PC) finished fifth, while Alex Landry (Indian Ridge CC) was sixth.
A total of 22 competitors were included in the Pre-Junior Division this year.
Please help us in congratulating Eric Boulger as the 2018 Pre-Junior Champion at the 100th Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship. Due to an administrative error that listed his date of birth wrong, Boulger was not recognized Tuesday as the lowest scorer amongst the 14-15 year old competitors in the field. The Xaverian Brothers rising sophomore finished the stroke play round at even-par 142 and earned the fifth seed entering Wednesday’s match play portion.