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MANCHESTER, Vermont – The 24th New England Senior Amateur Championship began Tuesday, and after the first 18-hole round, Stow native John McNeill holds a commanding 4-stroke lead over the field of 120 players.
McNeill, a longtime member of the Amateur Golf Tour of New England, shot a bogey-free 4-under-par 68 at Manchester Country Club, with a trio of Connecticut players T2 at even-par 72.
In total, 63 players made the cut at 7-over or better and will advance to Wednesday’s final round, with the first pairs going off at 8 a.m. McNeill and Connecticut’s Bob Murphy will be in the final pairing, starting at 9:45 a.m. on Hole 1.
Of that group, 32 belong to a Mass Golf Member Club, including defending champion Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough Country Club).
After making par on his first seven holes, John McNeill closed out the front nine with birdies on the 8th (par-3, 187-yards), and 9th (par-4, 405-yards) to find himself in a tie for the lead at 2-under at the turn.
However, he distanced himself from the field with another birdie on the well-guarded green on the 14th (par-4, 387-yards) and closed out his round with a birdie on the 18th (par-4, 407-yards), a dogleg right.
McNeill, 60, who has previously qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur, is looking for his first championship victory on the New England stage. He has two top 10 finishes in this event, including placing T4 in 2018, which ironically took place at Vermont’s Burlington Country club.
He’ll have to hold off a cohort that includes Connecticut’s Bob Murphy, Bill Hermanson, and Dave Jones, all of whom shot even-par 72 to finish Round 1 tied for second place.
Andy Congdon (Wyantenuck CC) is among five players who shot 1-over 73. Through 12 holes, Congdon sat at 4-under, as he shot a 33 on the back nine that included birdies on holes 10 and 11, followed by four consecutive birdies on holes 16 (par-3, 183-yards), 17 (par-5, 496-yards), 18 (par-4, 407-yards), and 1 (par-4, 360-yards). However, a pair of double-bogeys on the front nine led to a 40.
Congdon won the 2011 Massachusetts Senior Player of the Year Award and finished T7 with McNeill in the 2017 New England Senior Amateur.
Mark Vassalotti (Barnstable Golf), Chuck Tryder (Bellevue CC); and Mark Dennish (Old Sandwich GC) also sit a T5, alongside New Hampshire’s Bob Kearney.
Jack Kearney (Westover GC), the 2018 champion sits at 2-over, while defending champion Frank Vana, Jr. is 3-over.
Both Bob Kearney, 65, and Congdon, 67, share the lead in the Super Senior Division (age 65-over).
Manchester Country Club; Par-72
1 – John McNeill, Amateur Golf Tour New England (MA); 68
T2 – Bob Murphy, Brownson CC (CT); 72
T2 – Bill Hermanson: Black Hall Club (CT); 72
T2 – Dave Jones, Mohegan Sun GC (CT); 72
T5 – Mark Dennish, Old Sandwich GC (MA); 73
T5 – Chuck Tryder, Bellevue CC (MA); 73
T5 – Mark Vassalotti, Barnstable Golf (MA); 73
T5 – Andy Congdon, Wyantenuck CC (MA); 73
T5 – Bob Kearney, Bretwood GC (NH); 73
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