- Golfer Benefits
HAVERHILL, Massachusetts – Looking to become the first competitor to win both a New England Golf Association Super Senior title and a Massachusetts Super Senior title in the same year, Dave Houghton left it all out on the course in the first round of the fifth annual Championship Proper – which kicked off Tuesday at Haverhill Country Club. The second half of the Championship Proper will resume Wednesday with the top-70 competitors and ties on the leaderboard returning for a second 18-holes.
The 74-year old Houghton, of Dennis and Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, who used his first career hole in one to claim last year’s title by one stroke over Wachusett Country Club’s Jim Ruschioni, registered a 2-under 68 Tuesday to quickly ascend up the leaderboard, where he currently leads the group of 114 competitors in the field.
Houghton, who claimed the New England Super Senior title at Burlington Country Club (Vt.) on September 19, tallied eight pars and a birdie on his front nine, then continued his stellar play on the back nine by adding two more birdies
on the 10th and 12th holes, respectively. His 2-under performance provided him with a four-stroke lead heading into the final round.
“The conditions were tough,” said Houghton, who last week faced similar conditions when he competed in the rain-shortened Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship at Pine Brook Country Club. “The greens were so pure and I made some good putts, made a couple good par saves, made a couple good birdies, but left a couple in the bag coming in. It was a real solid round of golf and I was just happy to get it around.”
After parring each of the first three holes, Houghton broke the red on the fourth hole when he capitalized on the conditions of the greens by sinking his putt.
“That was 142 yards uphill and I hit a 9-iron in there and I just left it a little right of the hole. It hit and released a little bit,” recalled Houghton. “I made a nice putt coming down. It was a fast putt with about a foot of break, and rolled it right in. It had perfect speed.”
Having competed in each of the previous four Super Senior Amateur Championships, with a pair of T8 finishes and a T3 finish in addition to his victory last year, Houghton showed why he has constantly become a contender in this end-of-season tournament.
“I birdied 10. Made a hellacious putt on 10 and then I birdied the par-5 12,” said Houghton. “I missed all the rest of the birdie putts coming in, except that I made a great par on 15. It was getting dark and my eyes, I just don’t do well in low light. No complaints. Had a great group to play with. I’ve played a lot of golf with Jon Fasick. He’s a great champion. It was just a good group all the way around.”
He went as low as 3-under after 12 holes, but a bogey on the par-4 17th prevented him from doing further damage on the scoreboard.
While he was happy with his overall performance, he said there are still some things he’ll need to adjust when he returns for the second round Wednesday.
“I didn’t drive the ball real well today, maybe because I had all these [extra layers on],” he explained. “My timing was a little bit off, but I hit some great second shots and my putter was working.
He added, “It is the question of just playing one shot at a time. It’s the old adage of having to stay in the moment and hit the fairways then hit the greens then make the putt. You just try to deal with adversity because you are always going to get it.”
Houghton will be paired in the final group Wednesday as he looks to become the first competitor to win two Massachusetts Super Senior Amateur Championship Championships.
One of only two competitors who call this week’s host site home, Amesbury’s William House looked very comfortable in the first round of the Super Senior Amateur Championship at Haverhill Country Club. The 69-year old House, competing in his second career Super Senior Amateur Championship, shot a 2-over par 72 in the first round of this year’s Championship Proper, four strokes off the lead.
He made the turn with two birdies and two bogeys, then tallied a third birdie on the par-4 third hole to highlight his back nine.
For House, who finished T14 at last year’s Championship Proper at Wyantenuck Country Club, playing on his home course this week is exactly what he might need to ascend up the leaderboard based on last year’s performance.
Having been an active member for the better part of 10 years, first from 2003 to 2010, then again since 2017, after having to leave town for his career, House said that anytime he’s competing on his home course, the chances at success are higher.
“I think that anytime you play your home course, you have course knowledge,” said House after his first round. “Particularly playing on a day like today, course knowledge probably meant the most.”
Battling through back and forth rain, and less than ideal conditions, the local knowledge was in full effect for House, who joined West Newbury’s John Cluney as the only two Haverhill Country Club competitors in this week’s Championship field.
In addition to his three birdies, all on par-4’s nonetheless, House said that the knowledge was present on several of his made-pars over the first 18-holes, including on the par-4 fifth hole.
“The one that really stands out was on number five,” said House in reference to his course knowledge paying off. “I was on the far left of the green and the pin was pretty much over on the right side. It was downhill with a break to the right and I was about 45 feet and I rolled it up to about a foot. That was pretty good.”
In addition to his three birdies, he made par on 10 of the holes.
While the knowledge was key to his individual performance, House said that the idea of having the Championship Proper at his home club is a win-win for the overall performance of the Haverhill Country Club community.
“I think it is great. It showcases the course to a lot of people in the area. Most courses like Haverhill are looking for members right now. Maybe we’ll get lucky and get some people that will join us. I think it is great.”
In addition to hosting this week’s Massachusetts Super Senior Amateur Championship, Haverhill Country Club has recently played host to the 2017 state Four-Ball Championship with fellow Haverhill club Renaissance, the 2013 state Senior Amateur Championship, and a 2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship sectional qualifier among others.
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