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LINCOLN, Rhode Island – In what was one of the largest margins of victory in the 86 years the Tri-State Matches has been contested, Team Massachusetts won its 15th title in 16 years with 140.5 points over two days to finish off host Rhode Island and defending champion Connecticut on Wednesday at Kirkbrae Country Club.
Connecticut, which knocked off Massachusetts by a point last year to snap the Bay State’s 14-year win streak, finished in second place with 81 points, and Rhode Island had 66.5 points. Massachusetts scored 63.5 points alone Wednesday by winning 8 of 16 singles matches.
Massachusetts now has 36 total wins in the tournament, which features 10 top mid-amateur players plus six top senior players from each state.
Former UConn standout Jimmy Hervol (Hopkinton CC) accepted the Interstate Trophy for the Bay State men after scoring a maximum 6 points in both his foursomes matches Tuesday and his singles match Wednesday.
“That was awesome,” said Hervol, who made his Tri-States debut. “It’s huge to get the trophy back after what happened last year. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
This very well might have been Hervol’s final amateur event as the 22 year old is planning to move to Florida next month to play year-round and eventually turn pro.
He looked ready for the next step this week, as he earned a shutout in all three matches, winning the front nine, back nine and overall match versus both his opponents each time. He won Tuesday with fellow mid-amateurs David Spitz (South Shore CC) and Colin Brennan (Indian Ridge CC) during the foursomes, alternate-shot matches.
Team Massachusetts held the lead after Tuesday’s morning round but ran the table in the afternoon round by scoring at least 5 points in every match to more than double up their two opponents with 77 points. Mass Four-Ball champs Nick Maccario (Bradford CC) and Mike Calef (Pine Oaks GC) and defending Senior Player of the Year Frank Vana Jr. (Marlborough CC) and Jack Kearney (Westover GC) also carded 6s in Tuesday’s afternoon round.
“We are definitely a team of grinders, and I think that’s good for alternate shot,” Hervol said.
Hervol then swept Connecticut’s James Sheltman and Rhode Island’s Austin Cilley in singles competition Wednesday.
“Today I just didn’t make any mistakes, just hit solid shots,” said Hervol, who was runner-up in this year’s Massachusetts Amateur Championship. “It’s just another confirmation that my game’s ready for the next level.”
Herbie Aikens (Old Sandwich GC), a U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier this year and runner-up at the Mass Mid-Amateur, recorded the other 6 for the Bay State men Wednesday. He pulled ahead in his match with an eagle on the par-5, 503-yard 3rd hole.
Aikens said Hervol’s strong play was a welcome presence for the Bay State men.
“That’s a big right hand to have in a fight,” Aikens said of Hervol.
Frank Vana Jr. (Marlborough CC), the winningest golfer in Mass Golf history, tied two of his matches with 4.5 points but swept his Tuesday afternoon match with longtime friend and fellow senior Jack Kearney (Westover GC).
Vana said they key to winning back the trophy was the Bay State’s chemistry. He said the players interacted well with one another on and off the golf course.
“It was nice that everybody kind of came to play,” Vana said. “We had a lot of fun but we played well, which is great.
“Sometimes it just jives and it did. The course must have set up well for us.”
Vana and Hervol both said they drove the ball well to set up short iron shots and makable putts. Calef took advantage of a short par-4 (302 yards) on the 10th hole and made eagle Wednesday.
Other match winners Wednesday included Maccario (4.5 points), the 2019 Mass Mid-Amateur champion, Kearney (5 points), Needham GC’s Jordan Burke (5.5 points), Bayberry Hill GC’s Don Reycroft (5.5 points), Pine Oaks GC’s Ryan Riley (5 points) and Franklin CC’s Keith Smith (4.5 points). Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC), the three-time defending Mass Golf Player of the Year, tied Connecticut’s Patrick Griffin with 4.5 points.
This event concludes the Competition schedule for Mass Golf.
Hartford Golf Club in Connecticut will host next year’s Tri-State Matches. Dates are TBD.