- Golfer Benefits
MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, Massachusetts – Essex County Club has seen an incredible amount of history over 130 years, and the second round of stroke play Tuesday most certainly has added another chapter to it.
On a glorious day to enjoy the outdoors, a flurry of players in the afternoon wave made a statement with historic performances in the final round of stroke play in the 115th Massachusetts Amateur Championship.
Wellesley’s John Broderick (Dedham Country & Polo Club) held his putter aloft after dropping a 15-footer for birdie on the 18th. While it wasn’t a match-clinching putt, Broderick couldn’t help but smile — as he had most of the day — as he put a very loud exclamation point on the best stroke play round ever recorded in Essex’s history: An 8-under-par 62. With a mark of 9-under for the tournament, he essentially secured medalist honors for the stroke play portion of the event.
“It was a fun day,” said Broderick after he surpassed the previous competitive course record of 65 held by the late Jack Nies. “I made birdie on nine, and I could feel I was in good shape, and I told my caddie [Sully Kopf], ‘Let’s have a good time on the back nine’ and we did. It’s probably the least nervous I’ve been playing good golf.”
Round 2 was suspended for darkness at 8:19 p.m., with the projected cutline currently at 5-over. Those who haven’t completed stroke play will return at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. Afterward, if there is a tie for the final match play spots, a sudden-death playoff will be held at 8:45 a.m. for the final spots. The first round of match play will begin immediately afterward, with the Round of 16 matches to follow.
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After Round 1 concluded Monday, Broderick was frustrated with his putting and spent time afterward trying to get everything reset. The work paid off, as he made just about every birdie putt he had Tuesday, and even his misses just burned the edges. He got to 3-under with birdies on holes 5, 7 and 9, but turned on the jets on the back nine, going right at pins and converting on holes 10, 12, 14 and 15. As he got to the 18th tee, all he needed was bogey or better for the record.
“These greens are tricky to read for sure,” Broderick said. “I wasn’t putting confidently enough. I wasn’t sure if it was left or straight, but by hole six, I said let’s just commit to every read.”
Broderick wasn’t alone in making it a memorable afternoon. Playing alongside him was Osterville’s Ricky Stimets (Worcester Country Club), who sank a birdie putt from off the green on the 17th to get to 5-under. Had he holed out for birdie putt on 18, he would’ve held the course record for a brief time, before Broderick’s clinching putt.
“When the pairings came out I said this is going to be good,” Stimets said of being in the same group with Broderick. “We’re going to make some birdies and feed off each other and that’s exactly what happened. If it was a best ball, we would’ve shot 58.”
After Broderick and Stimets finished, University of Rhode Island standout Aidan O’Donovan (Cummaquid Golf Club) went under the previous record mark with a 64 (4-under overall), thanks in part to a chip-in eagle on the second hole. Shortly after, Northwestern University’s James Imai (KOHR Golf) came charging up the front nine, making birdies on four of his final five holes to finish with a 65 (6-under overall).
Had it not been for a bogey on 10 for O’Donovan and a double-bogey for Imai on the same hole to start their rounds, they both would’ve been well under the record mark as well.
“After the bogey on 10, I kept it pretty steady and made a bunch of putts,” O’Donovan said. “I didn’t make too many yesterday, but they started rolling in today. If I can keep my tee ball in the fairways, who knows what can happen? Hopefully more rounds like today.”
Former Boston College standout Matthew Naumec (Framingham Country Club) never had a practice round entering the week, but had memories of playing Essex 10 years ago in the Massachusetts Junior Amateur, when he finished second in the Junior Division.
Still, the former U.S. Open qualifier putted well and made two key birdies during his final round to finish 1-under over his two rounds of stroke play and likely set himself up for another title run.
“Essex is a treat,” said Naumec, a quarterfinalist last year. “I was trying to keep it around par. I hit a lot of fairways and greens, kept it in front so that’s what you have to do out here.”
Naumec perhaps had gutsiest shot of the day as he finished up Round 1. After hooking his drive in the fescue on the left edge of the scenic downhill par-4 18th, he had a tree obstructing his view of the green. He planned to go over the trees, but instead hit through them, with his ball retiring on the left edge of the green. He nearly made the birdie putt, but settled with par.
“I caught it heavy, and it went through about 2 feet of room on the left side,” Naumec said of his approach. “I got lucky and made a good putt that almost went in, but it was a nice finish with a par. ”
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No matter if Molly Smith (Vesper Country Club) qualifies for match play, she is determined to try to play this event for many years to come. As the first female to compete in the Mass Amateur, Smith finished stroke play with rounds of 74 and 75 for 9-over, currently 4 strokes back of the current projected cutline.
“Anytime you can play in a field like this and golf course like this, you’re going to have a good time,” Smith said. “It was cool, a little disappointed with how I finished up, but lots of positives from being here.”
Smith said she was able to hit driver on most holes, including on the par-4 1st which she birdied in the second round.
“I was excited to get a birdie on the first, but I only made three total, not a good enough number, but I just kept trucking. I hit driver everywhere because my driver is not getting to a point where it’s in trouble like a lot of women’s courses.”
When asked if she’s going to try again next year, “That’s the goal,” she said.
Here are some other tidbits from Day 2 at the Massachusetts Amateur Championship.
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