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WESTON, Massachusetts – In what turned out to be a rain-shortened first day of the 58th Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship at Pine Brook Country Club, Concord’s Mark Savel took the top-spot on the leaderboard and holds a one-stroke lead after 18-holes in Weston. The 60-year old Savel tallied three birdies to three bogeys to finish at even-par 70, one stroke ahead of both John McNeill and Don Foberg.
Play was suspended at 2:25 p.m. due to a non-dangerous situation because of the rain and as a result, this year’s Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship will be cut to one round.
Event Alert (posted 9/26 at 6:17 a.m.) : The resumption of Round 1 will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Competing in his first ever Senior Amateur Championship, the result of earning medalist honors at the championship qualifier held on August 14 at nearby Sandy Burr Country Club, the Haven Country Club’s Savel opened up play by carding one bogey and one birdie to seven pars and made the turn at even-par 35. Starting on the 10th tee, Savel, a longtime competitor in both the Mass Golf Father & Son and Father & Daughter team tournaments, rebounded from his bogey on the par-3 13th hole with a helper on the par-4 17th hole.
“I hit a very poor shot on the 13th hole, which created the bogey and I just kept saying to myself, ‘stay patient,’” said Savel following his blunder on his first par-3 of the day.
His advice to stay patient paid off four holes later when he collected his first of three bogeys Tuesday afternoon, capitalizing on a perfect drive to take his first dive under par on the leaderboard.
“Luckily, I picked the right yardage and the right club and knocked it to about 10 feet,” said Savel. “As you know, Pine Brook has incredible undulating greens, but it gave me that perfect flat putt and it was basically me saying to myself, ‘if I can hit a straight putt, you can make a birdie. Just a straight putt.’”
After sinking the 10-foot putt for birdie – courtesy of his straight putt – the first time Senior Amateur competitor Savel was able to carry his momentum to a par on 18 and back to the front side, where he look to further his ascension up the board.
After making the turn to Pine Brook’s front nine, Savel birdied the par-4 third hole and finished with his third and final birdie of the day on the par-5 ninth hole to finish atop the board amongst the 57 competitors in the morning wave of the first round – all of whom completed play before it was suspended at 2:25 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.
On the third hole, he took a varying approach compared to his fellow competitors which paid dividends in the final results.
“Three was incredible because having played Pine Brook and watching everybody hit driver, In only hit a 4-iron off the tee and knew if I could hit to a flat spot on the right side, I wouldn’t have to worry about hitting a draw or a fade,” said Savel.
He added, “I could just go straight at it. And so I hit a 4-iron, maybe only 210 yards, and I hit it 196 yards, roughly, to the pin, and I hit a five iron to about 4 feet before sinking the putt.”
Heading to the final hole with a 1-over mark, Savel secured his third birdie of the day with a 58-foot putt from the front of the green to the back right that, according to Savel, “hit the back of the cup, popped up in the air and fell in the hole.”
The remaining 52 competitors who were in the middle of competition when play was suspended will return to their original positions beginning at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.