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FITCHBURG, Massachusetts – The second round of the 111th Massachusetts Open Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Fitchburg has been completed. Out of 150 players who began, 59 have made the cut at 6-over-par 146 through 36-holes and will play in the third and final 18-hole round. The top 50 and ties made the cut.
Round 3 begins at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. Of those who made the cut, 34 are professionals, 24 are amateurs, and one is in the process of regaining amateur status (Matthew Lowe, Farmingdale, NY).
On a clear and mostly sunny day, Brad Adamonis (TPC Boston) shot a 2-under 68 on Tuesday and leads the field at 6-under 134. Milton’s Ben Spitz (George Wright Golf Course), an amateur golfer, is one stroke back in solo second place after shooting a 5-under-par 65 on Tuesday. Round 1 co-leader Max Theodorakis (Danbury, CT), as well as Rob Labritz (Pound Ridge, NY), are tied for third at 4-under, and Shawn Warren (Falmouth, Maine) and amateur Matt Conti (Walpole Country Club) are sitting at 3-under.
Competitors are vying for the Clarence G. Cochrane Memorial Trophy that is awarded to the champion as well as a $75,000 purse which is available for all professional entrants. The Massachusetts Open Championship marks the only Mass Golf event that is open to both amateurs and professionals.
A three-hole aggregate playoff will be used if there’s a tie at the end of Round 3.
Before he could focus on his second round, Brad Adamonis (TPC Boston) was up early to close out Round 1 by playing Hole 18. He made par, but when he reaches the 18th again Wednesday, he’s hoping to be in prime position to close out his first-ever Mass Open victory.
Adamonis, 48, has placed top 10 in the four recent Mass Opens (2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018), but he actually came the closest in 1999 when he fell in a playoff to Kevin Quinn, the last amateur to win the Mass Open. In an interesting twist, Adamonis will be paired with an amateur in the final round Wednesday as Milton’s Ben Spitz (George Wright Golf Course) shot a 5-under 65 on Wednesday to finish one stroke behind the leader.
“To be honest with you, this is definitely a tournament I felt like I could have won a couple of times,” said Adamonis, after shooting a 2-under 68 on Tuesday. “I definitely would like to win this tournament, and then next week I’m going to try to qualify for a couple of events.”
With current status on the Korn Ferry Tour, Adamonis has his sights set on rejoining the PGA TOUR. He first gained his card in 2008 and qualified for the US Open in 2011, but has been trying to get back ever since.
“I just want to try to do well and try to hopefully like everybody else here, try it on a PGA Tour,” Adamonis said.
First, he had to maintain his lead on Tuesday. Adamoanis stumbled a bit out of the gate with a pair of bogeys on holes 13 and 16. But after making the turn, he made birdie on the second and then did the same on three of his last six holes (5, 7, and 9).
“I put two good rounds together, and tomorrow you know as a great opportunity to try to have a great round, and that’s kind of the way I look at it,” he said.
Spitz pulled off one of the best three-hole stretches of the tournament by carding a birdie, eagle, birdie on holes 6-8 to close out his second round and catapult up the leaderboard. For the eagle on hole 7, he hit a good drive down the left side of the uphill fairway, and hit a six-iron pin-high right, and made the 30-footer for eagle.
“To finish like that was great,” said Spitz, the 2006 Mass Amateur champion. “It was nice that the wind died down a little bit coming down the last 4-5 holes.”
Spitz, 37, has also been in this position before. In 2013, he finished as low amateur, and in 2009 entered the final round just two strokes off the lead. On Wednesday, he hopes to make some of the same shots he pulled off Tuesday.
“I’ve been in contention to win it before, and unfortunately never got it done,” Spitz said. “To be in second place, I still want to play well, keep it going and put a good one out there tomorrow, hit the same golf shots I’ve been hitting, and hopefully make a few putts and add them up and see who wins.”
Spitz said adding the Titleist TS3 driver has been key to improving his game. “As long as I can keep it within the treeline with the driver, I’m usually in good shape. I’ve been hitting a lot of fairways and hitting it good so I have to keep it up.”
As for playing in the final round: “Almost all of my friends have been saying, just have fun out there and enjoy it, so that’s what I’m going to try to do and we’ll see what happens.”
Max Theodorakis (Danbury, CT), who ended Monday tied with Adamonis for the lead, had some ups and downs but was able to fight back to even par with birdies on holes 6 and 7. The 2020 Connecticut Open champion has handled the challenging the back nine well , going 1-under combined on his first two passes.
“Really the only easy hole on the back [nine] is that par-5, hole 10. After that, it’s eight pretty challenging holes,” Theodorakis said. “I’m just trying to do what I did [Monday]. I didn’t miss a green all day, and if you do that on the back nine, you’ll have some looks.”
Rob Labritz (Pound Ridge, NY) has had an interesting relationship with his putter — make that putters — during the past few months.
Labritz, who was part of the Team of 20 PGA Professionals to play in this year’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, shot an even-par 70 on Monday and decided to make another putter change Tuesday. Whether it was the new club or not, he made six birdies, including birdie putts from about 15, 20, and 40 feet to move into a share of second place.
“I was using the same golf putter for about three years and the magic just sort of went away,” Labritiz said. “So over the past few weeks, I’ve been just kind of switching to try to find what fits with me. My wife found one, and I think, at least for today that works.”
Though it worked Tuesday, Labritz said he’s not a fan of switching putters. In fact, he tried something a little bizarre during this year’s PGA Championship: tucking it into bed with him.
“It was just one of those things where I figured if I put it in my bed, then it would act very nicely to me, but it doesn’t work,” Labritz said with a chuckle.
Putter problems or not, Labritz is enjoying his first-ever golf event in Massachusetts. A winner of the 2019 Rhode Island Open, Labritz said he’s enjoying the competition and doesn’t plan on making this a one-and-done experience.
“It’s one that I definitely will put on my schedule from now on,” Labritz said. “Hopefully we can get a victory here and then be exempt. That’s always fun.”
Through two full rounds of his first-ever Mass Open Championship, Matthew Conti (Walpole Country Club) has been staying competitive among a sea of talented amateur and professional players. A rising senior at NCAA Division II Southern New Hampshire University is currently among the low amateurs players and is fifth overall in the field at 3-under 137, finishing 2-under on Tuesday.
“I’ve been hitting a lot of fairways and staying below the hole, or trying to at least,” Conti said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to make a good amount of putts, but for the most part I’ve hit a lot of fairways which just helped me a lot.”
A Northeast-10 First Team Selection this year, Conti is trying to follow in similar footsteps to the 2015 Mass Open Championship, who played for Division II St. Thomas Aquinas College in New York. Matthew Organisak, who was a Division III graduate of Emory University won the 2020 Mass Amateur.
Conti qualified for his first Mass Open at Kernwood Country Club on May 17, earning medalist honors shooting 2-under-par 68.
“I’ve been practicing a lot this summer,” he said. “My game has been in good shape, but I’m just happy so far to be in the position I am.”
Both of Conti’s rounds thus far have included strong stretches of golf at a time. On Monday, Conti birdied three of the first four holes he played as part of his four overall birdies. On Tuesday, he again found his groove in the stretches when he managed to birdie holes 10, 16, and 18 before getting two more on 5 and 7 after making the turn. Despite the success, Conti is remaining grounded and focused on the final round of play.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “But obviously there’s still one more round to go, so a lot of golf.”
The other part of Conti’s performance that stands out is the Open has been his first time playing at Oak Hill. Conti was able to play a practice round to gain some familiarity, but he has actually found that the course is advantageous to how he plays the game.
“I’m not the longest of hitters, so the course kind of suits me well because it’s not really that long,” Conti said. “I can still reach the par fives and I’m not really hitting many long irons, so I’ve been able to play to my strengths for the most part.”
When Mark Erickson and Brian Hartigan were planning to coordinate the club volunteers for the Mass Open, they knew they’d need at least 25 individuals to step up to handle responsibilities to keep the event running smoothly. They hit that number and more with 34 Oak Hill members volunteering their time to make sure the Mass Open could run smoothly. As a member-owned private course, Erickson was grateful but not surprised that the membership wanted to get involved.
“We’re very proud of the opportunity to showcase the golf course, and for people the membership to participate in that, I think is something that people rallied around,” said Erickson, a member of Oak Hill who also serves as a Mass Golf Rules Official. “They like playing golf here, and they like being involved.”
Some of the volunteer responsibilities include submitting live scores every three holes on tablets; being forecaddies to track where shots land; course spotting in trouble areas to help players locate lost golf balls; and managing parking. All these duties are done in staggered shifts from 6 a.m. to after play ends for the day.
Hartigan, the assistant pro at Oak Hill, coordinated with Mass Golf for an orientation on the Sunday before the event to make sure everybody knew what their role would be, especially with handling live scoring technology. “We wanted to make sure that the people we put in that were suited for that role,” Erickson said.
The heavy rain didn’t deter the volunteers either, including Mary Jane Pelletier, who spent most of the day as a forecaddie on the 15th on Monday. “She was there before the rain, after the rain, and most of the afternoon,” Erickson said. Erickson also saluted Jim Pereira who spent half the day as a scorer and the other half as a spotter. “He was here all day Monday until about 6 p.m., and he was back first thing this morning.”
“The volunteer work that we see around here, all the volunteers that help [make it] a cool and classy-run event,” said Rob Labritz, following the second round.
“We definitely appreciate all their hard work, for sure,” Max Theodorakis added.
All throughout Tuesday, players and spectators alike were wondering whether or not they’d be back at Oak Hill on Wednesday or heading home. By definition, a “cut line” in golf is defined as the score that represents the dividing point between golfers who continue playing and those who are eliminated from the field in a golf tournament. Those who make the cut will be back playing Wednesday morning for the final 18 holes.
Here is a look at the cut line at the Mass Open through the past 10 years.
|Year||Cut Line Score||No. Players||Host Site|
|2021||146 (+6)||59||Oak Hill CC|
|2019||147 (+3)||60||Vesper CC|
|2017||150 (+6)||60||TGC at Sacconnesset|
|2016||147 (+7)||54||Worcester CC|
|2015||151 (+9)||51||Black Rock CC|
|2014||148 (+4)||57||Weston GC|
|2013||148 (+4)||50||Woodland GC|
|2012||148 (+6)||50||Walpole CC|
|2011||143 (+3)||46||Oak Hill CC|
Here are some other tidbits from Day 2 at the Massachusetts Open Championship.
Amateurs Excel: When the Mass Open came to Oak Hill in 2011, only 4 amateurs made the cut. Fast forward 10 years, and now 24 are moving on to the final round, the most in that span. In 2019, 17 amateurs made the cut out of 60 players.
Switching Up The 2nd Tee: Oak Hill played differently Tuesday, not only because of the dryer weather but because of a different set of tees. On Monday, the “Wayne Stiles tees” were used on the par-4 2nd hole, giving the players a straight-on shot into the fairway. Players then hit from the “Ross tees” on Tuesday as they were shifted to the back corner near the road to create a hard dogleg right. According to Tom Bagley, who is the Official In Charge along with Henry St. Cyr, Donald Ross turned the hole into a dogleg right when he redesigned the front nine in the mid-1920s. The Stiles tees weren’t put back into play until Brian Pritchard restored the course as part of Oak Hill’s master plan several years ago.
“Some of the young guys are taking a much more aggressive line than I thought they’d take,” Bagley said. “They’re hitting it way down beyond where I’m sure Donald Ross would expect anyone to hit a tee shot. I think both tees are great, and it’s nice to have that option to be able to throw something at the players.”
Special Ace For Herrick: When Chris Herrick (Nabnasset Lake Country Club) hit his pitching wedge from the tee on the uphill 141-yard, par-3 5th hole, nobody saw the ball enter the hole. It wasn’t until he walked up the fairway when he saw two balls on the green and when looking for his ball, realized his TaylorMade with the blue dot was in the cup. Herrick then celebrated with his wife and caddy, Alison Walshe, an LPGA Tour player, and former Mass Golf junior standout. The ace was even more special because Herrick’s mother drove up from New York to see him play Tuesday. “It was a perfect situation, so I was pretty happy about it.” This was the third ace of his career.
Shooting His Age: Pleasant Valley CC head pro didn’t make the cut at Oak Hill, but his second-round effort was inspiring to say the least. Carrying his own bag, the 71-year-old Parajeckas shot a 1-over 71 in his first competitive event since March. While he’s shot his age before, never before has he done it in an event as big as the Mass Open.
Oh, Brother! (part 2): On Monday, we highlighted three sets up brothers who are competing in this year’s Mass Open. But they aren’t the only ones. Brothers Ben Spitz (George Wright GC) and David Spitz (South Shore Country Club) are competing, as are Michael Graboyes and Luke Graboyes, a pair of professionals from Watchung, New Jersey, and graduates of Cornell University. There’s also, Eric Boulger and Jack Boulger, both of Walpole Country Club, the latter of whom played for UConn and made the semifinals of the 2019 Mass Amateur.
Hardest hole: The 451-yard, par-4 4th hole has been the trickiest for the players at the Mass Open to manage so far. Only 12 birdies have been made through the first two rounds with a collective stroke average of 4.61. According to Oak Hill’s pro emeritus Jim O’Leary, the hole used to be a par-5 but was moved up to a par-4 more than 20 years ago. The 18th has traditionally been the No. 1 handicap hole and also used to be a par-5, but it’s currently on the 3rd most difficult hole.
From A Different Oak Hill: Eric Mabee (Country Club of Pittsfield) is no stranger to hanging around an Oak Hill Golf Course. Prior to becoming the head pro at the Country Club of Pittsfield in 2015, Mabee served as the assistant golf pro under Craig Harmon at the renowned Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. Oak Hill (NY) is another par-70 Donald Ross design that has hosted three U.S. Opens and most recently hosted the Senior PGA Championship in 2019. Mabee, who has competed in two PGA Championships, made the cut by carding a 71-69–140 through two rounds at the Mass Open.
Most Improved: Matthew Lowe (Farmingdale, NY) had a 12-stroke improvement in his score to make the cut into the third and final round of play. After shooting a 77 in Round 1 with six bogies, Lowe came back for Round 2 and sank five birdies on his way to a 5-under 65 and a spot in Wednesday’s final round. Jake O’Rourke (Bayberry Hills Golf Course) also improved in Round 2, improving his score by 13 strokes. O’Rourke went from an 86 down to a 73, with three birdies in his second and final round. He didn’t make the cut.
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