Mass Amateur: Parziale Still Standing After Weekend Health Scare - MASSGOLF

Matt Parziale On Incredible Run At Mass Amateur, Finalists Downes & Naumec Still Contending

By Steve Derderian

FRAMINGHAM, Massachusetts — Match play at the height of summer in the 116th Massachusetts Amateur Championship is very much a matter of survival and advancement. But it might not be surprising that amateur legend Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea Golf Club), a former champion whose 2018 story of being a former Brockton firefighter competing in the Masters has been shared globally, has shown the most fortitude going through the tournament this week at Framingham Country Club.

Over the weekend, instead of a final tuneup, Parziale unexpectedly wound up in the hospital with swelling throughout his body. He gained over 20 pounds in the process, which has steadily waned courtesy of the roasting sun. The cause…still unknown. But what we do know is that a few bouts of discomfort haven’t prevented him from maintaining a reputation as one of the most formidable in this state. 

To start the tournament, Parziale had issues even fitting a golf glove on his hand and getting proper-fitting shoes. Despite all that, he is still standing after winning both his matches Wednesday, adding to a compelling run in the state’s biggest event each year.

“It’s one of the ones you have circled on the calendar,” Parziale said after his two match wins. “I haven’t felt bad, just heavy and slow. but it’s been better each day. I’m shedding the weight, so I’ll get some rest tonight and get back out and compete tomorrow.”

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A side-by-side view of Parziale teeing off Monday versus Wednesday

Parziale faced two familiar opponents on Wednesday — former Thorny Lea member Mike Calef and Rutgers’ Weston Jones, who had a showdown with Parziale four years ago at The Kittansett Club. Parziale was at the top of his game Wednesday, making an eagle on the 12th and finishing off Calef in 14. He then made eight birdies, with another conceded at match end, to defeat Jones, who at times looked disheartened with each putt that fell.

“It was hard today; Weston played great, but that was the most birdies I’ve had in a match in a long time, and I was fortunate to make some down the stretch,” Parziale said of his afternoon match. “I’m super excited to be in the final eight. It was a rough start to the week, but it’s starting to feel better now.”

Matt Parziale and Weston Jones walk up the fairway during the Round of 16 match Wednesday at Framingham Country Club. (David Colt)

Better might be an understatement, but Parziale is among three mid-amateurs still standing in the field. Despite being the final player into match play, third-year Framingham member Matthew Naumec remains after his runner-up appearance in 2023, as does Ricky Stimets (Worcester Country Club), the 2023 Mass Golf Richard D. Haskell Player of the Year.

For several years, Stimets has been among the best in stroke play, yet he has hit a brick wall in the Round of 16. This year, he has busted through with a pair of convincing victories on Wednesday.

“It’s been a goal to get to Thursday at least,” Stimets said. “I’ve played well in stroke play the past five years, and it’s just been a grind. It’s hot and humid, and it’s wear and tear on the body. I feel like I’m in pretty good shape this year to tackle in one week.

“Last year, I felt like my calf was cramping every shot,” he added. “I made fitness a priority this year. I got a little better diet, and I feel like I’m ready to go. It’s tough keeping up with these guys, so I’m trying to do everything I can to give myself a boost.”

The day was punctuated with the tournament’s first hole-in-one as Stimets spun a shot into the cup on the 135-yard par-3 11th after nearly acing the downhill par-3 8th. A forward tee was used on 11, calling for a different shot than earlier in the week.

“I had a pretty good number into the wind on 11, and it landed just left of it, spun back in the cup, and bounced four feet and spun back.”

Naumec, the former pro who played in the U.S. Open, didn’t necessarily have his A-game early in the week but proved again he’s a solid match-play competitor. He knocked off medalist and good friend Matt Cowgill (Granite Links Golf Course) and had the upper hand on Ty Dupuis (Highfield Golf & Country Club) to keep some home club rooting interest alive.

“It feels good to play a little bit better in match play,” said Naumec, who is trying to become the first person since Ian Thimble (2013, Longmeadow CC) to make the final match as the No. 32 seed.

In the second match, the heat caught up with Naumec a bit, as his efforts to strike the ball well were matched by his efforts to stay cool.

Naumec’s strategy in dealing with the heat was evident. He shared, “The first three holes were scorching. I was dousing myself with water, trying to cool down and catch my breath. But the ball was flying farther, so it definitely influenced how I chose my numbers. Having played here extensively, the Framingham family knows there are certain paths you can take to keep your energy up.”

“People who are playing well and who get hot at the right time continue on,” Naumec added. “I’m going to stick to my status quo and hopefully get some member bounces here and there.”

Matt Naumec plays from the bunker during Wednesday’s competition at the Mass Amateur. (David Colt)

Like Naumec, defending champion Ryan Downes (GreatHorse) is also still contending about 24 hours after a playoff decided his tournament fate. The Vanderbilt commit has earned a rematch with Temple University’s Ethan Whitney (Oak Hill Country Club), who also dominated through much of match play. Vanderbilt’s John Broderick (Dedham Country & Polo Club) is also surging at the right time, as is University of Rhode Island’s Aidan O’Donovan (Cummaquid Golf Club) and former Hartford standout Danny Frodigh (Dedham Country & Polo Club) also won a pair of exciting matches.

After his cutline scare, Downes now has his caddie and fellow competitor Cole Banning back on the bag, and he seems to have captured that confidence he has shown over the past two years, which has gotten him into the final match. He set himself up for eagle and birdie attempts often. He also showed he could scramble, tying the 5th hole despite hitting into the fescue (again) to maintain a 3-up lead against Trevor Drew (Long Meadow Golf Club).

“I felt in control of my game most of the day,” Downes said. “I was able to hit a couple of drivers here and there and didn’t have to do anything special.”

As for his rematch with Whitney, “Hopefully, it will be a good match with a lot of birdies,” Downes said. I’m looking forward to that challenge.”

12th green = birdies all day 🐦‍⬛ #MassGolf #MassAm

Round Of 16 Capsules

32-Matt Naumec def. 17-Tyler Dupuis, 4&3 

Despite losing the opening hole, Matt Naumec took the lead by winning holes 2 and 5 and added to his lead with a birdie on the par-3 8th. Naumec, the former Boston College standout, then won the 10th and 12th with birdies, just about clinching his spot in the quarterfinals for the third consecutive year since regaining his amateur status.

8-John Broderick def. 24-Jake Shuman, 1-up

In a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal matchup, John Broderick once again held off a stout challenge from former Duke standout Jake Shuman to advance. Though Shuman held a 1-up lead at the turn, Broderick won the next two holes and held the lead on the 16th. With Shuman in for par on the 17th, Broderick made a 20-foot curling putt to maintain his lead. After Shuman missed his 25-foot birdie bid, Broderick was able to make his 3-footer for par to end the match.

20-Aidan O’Donovan def. 29-Gavin Lane, 5&3

Aidan O’Donovan led the entire way in his match to make it to the quarterfinals for the first time. O’Donovan, a University of Rhode Island standout, got up on Lane early by winning four of the first five holes to take control of the match. Despite pumping his drive OB on the 9th, O’Donovan made birdie on the 10th and won holes 13-15 to finish the match.

28-Matt Parziale def. 12-Weston Jones, 3&1

Matt Parziale kept pouring in birdie after birdie in a seesaw match that saw just two holes tied in the entire 17-hole contest. Despite losing the first two holes, Parziale made five birdies on the front nine and eight in the entire match. After Jones won the 10th and 11th with birdies, Parziale won holes 14-17 to finish out the match. On the final hole, Parziale landed his ball on the green, within 2-putt range. Jones missed and conceded the match after his chip was too far off target.

31-Danny Frodigh def. 15-Jake Ratti, 2&1

Former University of Hartford standout Danny Frodigh won the 15th and 16th hole to break a deadlock against former Bryant University standout Jake Ratti. Frodigh, the youngest of three brothers, saw his oldest brother Patrick win the title, while his other brother Will made the semifinals two years ago. Despite facing a two-hole deficit early, Frodigh rallied back by winning the 6th-8th th

10-Ricky Stimets def. 7-Collin McMahon-Shea, 5&3

Ricky Stimets made the 15th hole-in-one of his life, spinning the ball back in the cup on the par-3 11th (135 yards) to go 3-up against Collin McMahon-Shea. Stimets then won the 12th and 15th to earn his first trip to the quarterfinals after coming up short in the Round of 16 for the past three years. In total, he made six birdies, with the ace getting him to 8-under.

30-Ryan Downes def. 19-Trevor Drew, 4&3

After a long layover between matches, defending champion Ryan Downes made birdie on the first hole and never trailed against Trevor Drew, whose opening match went 21 holes. After making the turn at 3-up, Downes won the next two holes, and though Drew fought back to win the 13th, and both players struggled to land the ball on the 14th green, Downes was able to close it out on the next hole to earn his third straight trip to the quarterfinals. 

6-Ethan Whitney def. 11-Jake Mrva, 2&1

In a matchup of former St. John’s High School (Shrewsbury) teammates, Ethan Whitney got the upper hand early and held it. Whitney won the first two holes and led by three, crossing the street. Mrva won the 10th with a birdie and again got the deficit to 2 by winning the 16th. Mrva nearly extended the match with a well-struck birdie putt on the par-3 17th, but it spun out of the cup, giving Whitney and his first Mass Amateur quarterfinal appearance.

Round Of 32 Capsules

32-Matt Naumec def. 1-Matt Cowgill, 4&3 

In a matchup featuring the stroke play medalist and the defending Framingham CC Club Champion, it was Matthew Naumec who came away victorious. Making five straight 4s to start his day, Naumec built an early 2-up lead. After making birdie at 9 and 10, Naumec extended the lead to 4-up and never looked back. 

17-Tyler Dupuis def. 16-Kyle Tibbetts, 4&3 

The hometown favorite fell behind early as Tyler Dupuis went birdie-par to start the day and grab a 2-up lead after 2. The next nine holes were a bit more back-and-forth, but Dupuis’ flawless play early on the back nine was the difference, earning him a 4 & 3 victory and a matchup with yet another Framingham CC member. 

8-John Broderick def. 25-Brian Bassett, 6&4 

Last year’s stroke play medalist, John Broderick, played bogey-free and was in control for the entire match. He made three straight birdies to finish off the match, winning 6 & 4.  

24- Jake Shuman def. 9-Brandon Parker, 6&4 

Brandon Parker played the front nine to even par and found himself 4-down, as Jake Shuman shot a bogey-free 32. On the back nine, Shuman made five straight 4s to close out the match on the 14th hole.  

29-Gavin Lane def. 4-Joseph Lenane, 2-up 

The youngest player left in the field, Gavin Lane (17), holed out for eagle from 145 yards on the 7th hole to pull back within one of the defending New England Amateur Champion, Joey Lenane. Lane then went on to win the next four holes, making it a streak of five straight, and closed out the victory when Lenane’s approach into 18 found the water. 

20-Aidan O’Donovan def. 13-Billy Walthouse, 2&1 

Aidan O’Donovan built a 2-up lead at the turn after winning holes 7-9. Walthouse then battled back late, winning holes 15 and 16. But the comeback was halted when O’Donovan sank a hard-breaking 10-foot birdie putt on 17, giving him a 2 & 1 victory. 

28-Matt Parziale def. 5-Mike Calef, 4&3 

In a battle of former Champions, Matt Parziale took advantage of Mike Calef’s slow start in cruising to a 4 & 3 victory. His eagle on the par-5 12th and birdie on the 13th squashed Calef’s comeback bid, giving Parziale the victory. 

12-Weston Jones def. 21-Christopher Bornhorst, 1-up 

It was a back-and-forth battle with a lot of birdies: 14 in total between the duo. But it was Weston Jones’s late birdie (hole 17) that was the difference, allowing him to calmly 2-putt his way to victory on 18.

31-Danny Frodigh def. 2-Shuvam Bhaumik, 19 holes 

Danny Frodigh knocked down a 24-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole (par-5 1st) to advance in match play for the first time. Bhaumik nearly made birdie himself prior to the winning putt but just missed by inches.

15-Jake Ratti def. 18-Matt Lucy, 2&1  

Jake Ratti, who recently advanced to U.S. Amateur Final Qualifying at his home club of Wollaston Golf Club, took a 3-up lead at the turn to defeat Matt Lucy. After Lucy won the 11th with a par, both players made the same score the rest of the way, with Ratti closing it out on the 17th.  

7-Collin McMahon-Shea def. 26-Patrick Frodigh, 5&4 

Collin McMahon-Shea earned his first Mass Amateur match play victory, defeating the 2018 champion in this event. McMahon Shea hit a pair of shots inside 3 feet on the front nine, winning holes 6-8 to take a 2-up lead at the turn. He also won holes 12-14 to close out the match after Frodigh’s approach shot rolled off the front of the 14th.

10-Ricky Stimets def. 23-Carter Nunez, 3&2  

It was a back-and-forth match in the morning, with each player winning three holes on the front nine. Though Nunez won the 11th with a birdie, Stimets responded with an eagle on the 12th. After some wayward chips from Nunez, Stimets was able to win the 13th and 14th holes with pars.

30-Ryan Downes def. 3-Sean Fitzpatrick, 6&4 

The defending champion won the first hole and, after taking an early 3-up lead, never looked back. The incoming Vanderbilt University product then won the 10th and 11th with birdies and closed it out on the 15th.

14-Ben Spitz vs. 19-Trevor Drew, 21 holes

In the longest match of the morning, 19-year-old Trevor Drew survived by outlasting Ben Spitz, the reigning Mass Amateur Public Links champion. On the third playoff hole (par-4, 3rd) Spitz’s tee shot found the trees along the right side and found the bunker on his second. Drew was on the green in two, and though he missed the birdie putt, Spitz was unable to get up-and-down to extend the match further.

6-Ethan Whitney def. 27-Patrick Kilcoyne, 7&5 

Ethan Whitney earned the most convincing victory in the Round of 32, winning more than half the holes in the match to move into the Round of 16 for the third consecutive year. Whitney, the Temple University standout, won holes 8-11 to move to 5-up and brought the match to a 6-up dormie with a conceded eagle on the 12th.  

11-Jake Mrva def. 22-Jordan Burke, 3&2 

Jake Mrva made birdie on the first two holes as he never trailed against Jordan Burke, a former semifinalist (2006) and quarterfinalist (2010). Burke battled back, making a birdie on the 12th to get within 2, but Mrva closed it out with a par on the difficult 16th.

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