- Golfer Benefits
HAMPDEN, Massachusetts — All four players who advanced to the semifinals of the 105th Massachusetts Amateur Powered By KOHR Golf on a clear, warm Wednesday at GreatHorse have made it there for the first time.
One will lift the Charles E. Mason Trophy for the first time on Thursday when the semifinals and final 18-hole match take place.
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) August 2, 2023
Perhaps it will be GreatHorse’s own Ryan Downes, who is on the verge of another historic victory. If Downes, the youngest Massachusetts Amateur Championship winner in history, prevails he’ll be the only person to have ever won the Mass Amateur, the Ouimet Memorial Tournament and the Mass Junior Amateur. And the 17-year-old Longmeadow native and Vanderbilt University commit has the chance to do it all in the same year.
Downes stumbled a bit out of the gates Wednesday morning by losing his first two holes. However, his play shined the rest of the day, needing just 28 holes in his two matches combined Wednesday. In the afternoon match he played the front nine in 30 strokes, with six birdies to pull well ahead.
Standing in his way Thursday morning will be Boston Golf Club’s Carson Erick, a Hingham High standout who finished 11th at the MIAA Division 1 state championship this past fall. Erick defeated two solid opponents, starting with 2022 semifinalist Josiah Hakala (Northern Spy Golf Club), followed by Ryan Scollins (Franklin Country Club), who finished third in the 2023 New England Amateur.
“I couldn’t have asked for much better out here,” Erick said. “It’s an unbelievable course. It’s playing hard, and this field is awesome. As a kid, you’ve been playing these guys for the last two years, so you get great matches every time. I’m just excited about tomorrow.”
Erick, like many, was feeling the fatigue especially after playing matches that went 18 and 17 holes, respectively. However, his putting was strong as he was able to clean up pars when needed, especially against Scollins. Trailing by two on the 11th, Erick won the next four holes and punched his ticket to the next day by winning the 17th.
Erick said GreatHorse has been a good fit for him this week, and with the tees back a bit Wednesday was able to open things up a bit more.
“I definitely see some similarities out there,” said Erick, comparing GreatHorse to his home club. “No place has more bunkers than here, so you have to be very accurate off the tee and be very methodical about your shots. This is playing a little longer than it was in stroke play. I found myself hitting a lot more drivers and mid-irons.”
Though he’s playing in his first Mass Junior Amateur, CJ Winchenbaugh (Oyster Harbors Club) has proven formidable in match play. He made a run to the quarterfinals last month during the Mass Amateur at Essex County Club, and he said his biggest step forward in his game has been playing well in pressure scenarios.
“I think in the fall and in the spring I put myself in winning positions a lot, which kind of helped dealing with pressure and stuff like that,” said Winchenbaugh, a Georgetown commit who attends Belmont Hill School. “I think early on in the year I set the bar pretty high. You could call them unrealistic goals, but I think I reached a lot of them, so I think I just I set the standard really high and I just tried to reach it.
Winchenbaugh beat Max McColgan (Nashawtuc Country Club), 4&3, in the morning thanks in part to a hole out from the bunker for eagle on the par-5 14th.
“I had a good line in the bunker and I had a lot of green to work with,” Winchenbaugh said. “I just picked the landing spot and I hit it and I didn’t really think it was going to get all the way to the hole, but it just kind of fell in, and it’s a nice bonus to almost finish out that round.”
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He then faced Plymouth Country Club’s Sascha Robinson, who shot 7-under 65 on Monday to earn the No. 2 seed. Despite pushing in his drive left on the 16th tee, Winchenbaugh collected himself and closed out the match. With it tied on the 18th, Winchenbaugh hit the middle of the fairway, left his approach on the front side of the green, and left his long uphill putt inside 5 feet to ice it.
“I think today in my second match I started playing my opponent more than I played the course which kind of got in the way,” Winchenbaugh said. “I think moving forward, I need to play my game and see what happens and I think making a run here and even possibly winning would be amazing.”
Rounding out the group is UConn commit Matthew Costello (Segregansett Country Club), who this fall was the Division 2 South Sectional medalist and finish tied for third at the Division 2 state championship for the Bishop Stang golf team.
If Costello wins he’d be the second straight left-hander to do so, following up John Broderick’s win last year.
After edging out Carson Muse (Winchester Country Club) on the final hole of the last match, Costello stayed rather even with 2022 semifinalist Zach Pelzar (Weston Golf Club), finally surging ahead by winning three straight holes on the back nine.
Costello, like Erick, missed the cutline by several strokes last year but now is one of just four with a shot to list the trophy on Thursday.
1-Ryan Downes def. 9-Savar Bhasin, 6&5
Downes made six birdies on the front nine for a score of 30 as he breezed into the semifinals with a victory over Bhasin, the youngest player in the field to make it to match play. Bhasin, of Pleasant Valley Country Club, got one back with a birdie on the 7th, but Downes won three straight on holes 10-12 to get to dormie and clinched it by hitting his third shot inside a couple feet on the 13th.
5-Carson Erick def. 4-Ryan Scollins, 3&1
Despite being down 2 through 10 holes, Erick won the next four with birdies on holes 11 and 14, making a 40-foot putt for birdie on the latter. Scollins, of Franklin Country Club, won the 15th, but Erick closed it out with a pair of pars on the last two holes.
7-CJ Winchenbaugh def. 2-Sascha Robinson, 1 up
Winchenbaugh, a Georgetown commit from Oyster Harbors Club, won the 17th with a par to stave off a rally from Robinson, out of Plymouth Country Club. Tied on the 18th hole, Winchenbaugh got on the green in two, but Robinson (winner of the 16th and 17th) was wide off the tee and wasn’t able to get on the green until his fourth shot.
11-Matthew Costello vs. 3-Zach Pelzar, 3&1
Costello, of Segregansett Country Club, won three of the final four holes, including birdies on the 13th and 14th to continue his run. The left-handed Bishop Stang standout won just one hole on the front night but hung in with Pelzar, a 2022 semifinalist out of Weston Golf Club, the entire way.
ROUND OF 16 RECAPS
1-Ryan Downes def. 16-Trevor Drew, 4&3
Despite losing the first two holes of the match, Downes won three of the next four (birdies on 6 and 8) to take the lead. Drew, a Long Meadow Golf Club member who earned the final spot in match play via Tuesday’s playoff, won the 10th hole to bring it to 1-up, but Downes closed it out by winning the 14th and 15th holes.
9-Savar Bhasin def. 8-Ryan Keyes, 19 holes
Bhasin hit his second shot on the first playoff hole (1st) inside a foot and closed out the match once Wellesley’s Keyes was unable to make birdie to extend the match. Bhasin won the 16th with a birdie and got a conceded birdie on the 18th to bring it to extra holes.
4-Ryan Scollins def. 13-Brendan Roy, 1 up
Scollins was down by 1 at the turn, but the Holy Cross incoming first-year won the next two holes to take back the lead. Roy, of Sterling National Country Club, tied it with birdies on the 13th and 16th, but Scollins closed out the match with a par on 17th, and it ended when Roy was unable to save par on the 18th.
5-Carson Erick def. 12-Josiah Hakala, 2 up
Erick won the final two holes of the match to close out Hakala, of Northern Spy Golf Club, a semifinalist last year. After taking a 2-up lead at the turn, Hakala won the 10th and 12th to equalize and did so again with a birdie on the 16th. Still, Erick was able to win the final two holes with pars.
2-Sascha Robinson def. 15-Nic Gebhardt, 5&4
Robinson dominated the front nine to race out to a 5-up lead at the turn, thanks in part to birdies on holes 7 and 8. Gebhardt, of Wachusett Country Club, won the 10th with a birdie but Robinson won the next with a par and closed out the match three holes later.
7-CJ Winchenbaugh def. 10-Max McColgan, 4&3
Winchenbaugh, a Georgetown commit, was on his game early, winning the first three holes with birdies on 2 and 3 and getting to 4-up with another birdie on the 6th hole. McColgan, of Nashawtuc Country Club, cut the deficit to 2 with a birdie on the 10th, but Winchenbaugh closed it out by holing out from the greenside bunker on the 14th and winning the next hole.
3-Zach Pelzar def. 14-Will Spring, 3&1
Pelzar had a 5-up lead through 12 reduced to 2-up after Spring won three straight holes, but he held on for victory, winning the 17th with a par. Only four holes were halved in the entire match, but Pelzar prevailed to get to the quarterfinals for the second straight year.
11-Matthew Costello def. 6-Carson Muse, 1 up
Costello, a UConn commit, won the decisive 18th hole to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time. Costello took the lead five separate times, as Muse, of Winchester Country Club, was able to answer each time until the end.
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