- Golfer Benefits
MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, Massachusetts – Dedham’s Joey Lenane started Wednesday not knowing whether he would even be a part of Mass Golf’s version of the big dance: One of the 32 seeds for match play in the 115th Massachusetts Amateur Championship. The North Carolina State rising sophomore had struggled to find a rhythm at Essex County Club, and at 8:45 a.m. had to fight for his tournament life in a playoff for the final spots into match play.
It wasn’t his finest effort, but Lenane survived. He then went on to defeat two of Mass Golf’s best — Brookline’s James Imai and Brockton’s Matt Parziale — as his 39-hole effort makes him one of eight quarterfinalists remaining in the prestigious championship.
“It didn’t really feel like momentum was going my way,” said Lenane, who three-putted the first playoff hole but advanced with a well-executed par on the second to advance. “I kind of found my groove during match play which was good when I needed it.”
Overall, Wednesday’s match play action saw plenty of intriguing matchups, and four matches ended up going to extra holes. The quarterfinals begin at 7:30 Thursday morning, followed by the semifinals. The 36-hole championship match begins at 7:30 Friday morning.
What could’ve very well been a Friday final matchup, turned out to be a local version of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in the opening round. Imai, a Northwestern standout who shot 65 to match the previous competitive course record on Tuesday, took a 2-up lead with a birdie on the 6th (15th of the match). Not shaken, Lenane answered with a two-putt par to win the 7th and got it even with a birdie on the 8th to tie it. Back to 10 and then 11, where Lenane was earlier, the NC State product hit the green on the par-3 11th, while Imai was unable to get up-and-down.
Lenane’s afternoon match lived up to the hype, too, as he faced 2017 champion Matt Parziale. Going back-and-forth throughout, Lenane made a clutch chip-in birdie from the right rough on the par-3 7th to take the lead, only for Parziale to get it back on the 9th. After Lenane near aced the downhill 14th that would’ve put him 2-up, Parziale drained a 60-footer for birdie to stay one back, but Lenane won the 16th and close it out from there.
“It was a fun match,” Lenane said. “It was a lot of shot-for-shot, and it just felt like we were following each other around out there.”
Wellesley’s John Broderick (Dedham Country & Polo Club), who earned stroke-play medalist on the back of his course record 62 on Tuesday, had to work hard to knock off Hall of Famer Frank Vana (Marlborough Country Club) in the opening round. Still, the Vanderbilt product and 2020 New England Amateur winner prevailed in both his matches as he tries to become the first player since Nick McLaughlin in 2015 to win the Mass Amateur as the No. 1 seed.
“The morning match with Frank I think I hit it better than I did yesterday,” said Broderick after defeating Brian Higgins (Franklin Country Club), 2&1, in a fast-paced match that took less than 3 hours. “Being the one seed, there’s a little more nerves on the first day because it would’ve been a real let down if I lost.”
Broderick will square off with Boston’s Jake Shuman (Blue Hill Country Club), who defeated Broderick in a 22-hole thriller in the opening round last year at Concord Country Club. Shuman, the 2022 U.S. Mid-Amateur medalist, made quick work in his matches, winning them both by a 5&4 margin.
“I don’t think I was really ever in trouble today,” said Shuman, who had to finish his stroke play round Wednesday morning. “I kept it in front and really was never scrambling in match play. Typically par around here is good. If you keep the squares away, you should move on a little bit.”
This now marks his deepest run since 2014 at Kernwood Country Club, but life and his prospective on golf has changed a bunch since his junior playing days.
“Nine years ago was so different because I was trying to be recruited,” Shuman said. “Now coming here full circle, the expectations are different. My goal now is to enjoy myself. I’m very fortunate to work with people who are supportive of this. The golf is still important to me, and I’m excited to play another day.”
Longmeadow’s Ryan Downes (GreatHorse) and Westminster’s Ethan Whitney (Oak Hill Country Club) were last on the course Wednesday, putting on an excellent show for those following along. Trying to match each other shot-for-shot, the duo were tied heading to the 16th when Downes pumped his fist after hitting a chip-in from behind the green to go 1-up. After tying the 17th, Downes hooked his drive left into the fescue on 18 and then hit a flyer over the green. Whitney, on in two, returned the favor with a clutch birdie putt to extend the match. Unfazed, Downes closed out the match with a birdie on the first playoff hole as he tries to make it back to the final match once more.
“It’s hard to make two deep runs in a row,” said Downes, the 17-year-old Vanderbilt commit. “I just needed to find confidence again. I didn’t play particularly well in the spring. Once you get going, it’s easy to make runs because the putts start fall.”
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Weston’s C.J. Winchenbaugh, who goes to Belmont Hill School where Broderick and 2022 champion Conner Willett both played, finds himself in the Mass Amateur quarterfinals for the first time after he held off a late rally from University of Rhode Island’s Aidan O’Donovan (Cummaquid Golf Club), who shot 64 the day prior.
Walpole’s Jack Boulger, who had a strong performance in this year’s Mass Open at his home course TPC Boston, finds himself back in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2019. Back then, the former UConn and USC product made a run to the semifinals at The Country Club. Facing the low amateur at this year’s Mass Open, Ricky Stimets (Worcester Country Club), Boulger won the opening hole and sank three consecutive birdies to go 5-up at the turn.
Wilbraham’s Matthew Naumec (Framingham Country Club) is back in the quarterfinals, while Joe Harney (Charles River Country Club) is also in the midst of his deepest run in the Mass Amateur.
1-John Broderick def. 17-Brian Higgins, 2&1
Broderick (Dedham Country & Polo Club) continued his torrid pace in the Round of 16, taking a lead on the first hole and keeping it throughout. Higgins, the 2002 Mass Amateur finalist out of Franklin Country Club, got within one after getting up-and-down for par on the par-4 9th. But Broderick won the 11th with a par and the 12th with a birdie to go 3-up, which proved enough for victory.
25-Jake Shuman def. 9-Collin Fitzpatrick, 5&4
Former Duke standout Shuman (Blue Hill Country Club) advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2014 with a runaway victory over former Holy Cross standout Fitzpatrick (The Kittansett Club). Shuman won four of the first eight holes, including the par-4 with a birdie, won the 10th with another birdie and closed out the match with a birdie on the 15th.
13-Jack Boulger def. 4-Ricky Stimets, 7&5
Boulger (TPC Boston) had the most convincing victory of the day, as he won holes 4-7 with consecutive birdies on holes 5, 6 and 7 to get to 5-up by the time he made the turn. Boulger, who made the semifinals in 2019, closed out the match with a birdie on the 13th against Stimets (Worcester Country Club), who shot 65 the day prior.
5-Matthew Naumec def. 21-Weston Jones, 4&3
With consecutive hole wins on 7, 8, 9 and 10, Naumec (Framingham Country Club) punched his return ticket to the quarterfinals, knocking off Rutgers University standout Jones (Charles Oak Country Club). Naumec, who played 33 holes the day prior also played 33 on Wednesday, but he closed out the match by making par on holes 14 and 15.
31-Joseph Lenane def. 18-Matt Parziale, 2&1
In a matchup of two of the state’s best in their own right, North Carolina State’s Lenane prevailed over the 2017 champion Parziale (Thorny Lea Golf Club). Tied at the 9th, Lenane pulled ahead with a par on the 13th. He almost aced the 14th, but Parziale made a long 60-footer to stay one back. Still, Lenane struck the decisive blow on the 16th as his birdie putt dropped to bring the match to dormie.
7-Ryan Downes def. 23-Ethan Whitney, 19 holes
In the wildest finish of the afternoon, the 2022 runner-up Downes (GreatHorse) kept his title hopes alive by edging out Temple University standout Whitney (Oak Hill Country Club). Downes chipped-in for birdie to go 1-up on the 16th, but after hitting his drive left on the 18th, flew his second over the green. Whitney converted his birdie putt to force extra holes. Though Downes was wide on his tee shot off one, he found the green and sank the birdie putt to close out the match.
14-C.J. Winchenbaugh def. 3-Aidan O’Donovan, 1-up
Winchenbaugh (Oyster Harbors Club), a Georgetown University commit, held off a late charge from University of Rhode Island’s O’Donovan to move to the quarterfinals for the first time. After making five birdies on the front nine, including the first two holes, Winchenbaugh finished the front nine with a 32 and take a 4-up lead. O’Donovan made things interesting by winning the 11th and 12th, and he cut it to 1 with a par on the 17th. However, Winchenbaugh closed the door with a par on the 18th.
22-Joe Harney def. 6-Andrew DiRamio, 4&3
Harney (Charles River Country Club) won the first five holes with two birdies to cruise to his first Mass Amateur quarterfinal appearance. Harney, the 2015 Mass Open champion, shot 2-under on the front nine, and though DiRamio (North Hill Country Club) won one back on the sixth hole, it wasn’t enough to spark a rally.
1-John Broderick def. 32-Frank Vana, Jr., 3&2
Broderick won just four holes of the match, with two of them being birdies, as he took down Hall of Famer Vana, who won the Mass Amateur at Essex in 2005. Broderick won the 15th with a birdie and closed it out with a par on the 16th.
31-Joey Lenane def. 2-James Imai, 20 holes
Lenane won the 16th and 17th holes of the match (holes 7 and 8) to pull even, and on the second playoff hole (par-3), he made par after Northwestern standout Imai wasn’t able to get up-and-down.
3-Aidan O’Donovan def. 30-David D’agostino, 1-up
O’Donovan made a 6-foot birdie putt on the 9th green (18th of the match) to earn his first match play victory at a Mass Amateur. O’Donovan made a clutch 15-foot birdie putt on the 7th to stay 1-up, but Methodist University standout D’agostino pulled even on the 8th to make it tied heading to the final hole.
4-Ricky Stimets def. 29-Cooper Griffin, 2&1
Stimets and Griffin went back and forth on the front nine, but by making par on the entire back nine proved enough for Stimets, who got to the Round of 16 for the third straight year. Griffin, a Woodland Golf Club standout, made birdie on the 6th to equalize the match.
5-Matthew Naumec def. 28-Brendan Hester, 1-up
Hester, who just competed in the U.S. Senior Open two weeks ago, got off to a quick start with a 2-up lead after the first two holes. Naumec was able to get one back going into the back nine with a birdie on the par-5 5th. After a birdie on the 14th, the match was tied until Hester made bogey on the 16th and Naumec made par. Hester, needing a birdie at the last for any chance of extending the match, did just that to put the pressure on Naumec, but he also made birdie to seal the 1-up victory.
6-Andrew DiRamio def. 27-Owen Egan, 1-up
Starting on hole 10, the one-handed putting guru DiRamio built a comfortable 3-up lead the first 13 holes, but after Egan made back-to-back birdies on holes 5 and 6, his lead was cut to one. But thanks to a clutch 12 ft par putt on the 8th (17th hole of the match), DiRamio sent the match to 18 1-up and was able to close out for the victory.
7-Ryan Downes def. 26-Cael Kohan, 1-up
Downes, last year’s runner-up in the Mass Amateur, was down early but was able to make birdies on holes 15, 18 and 1 (his 6th, 9th and 10th holes of the day) to close out the opening nine with a 1-up lead and move it to 2-up with eight holes remaining. He held onto that lead and cruised to the clubhouse with a 1-up victory.
25-Jake Shuman def. 8-Collin McMahon-Shea, 5&4
Shuman, a former Duke University standout, ran the table in his opening match against McMahon-Shea, of Dickinson University. Taking a 2-up lead to the turn, Shuman won the first three holes on the back nine and closed it out with pars on the 13th and 14th.
9-Collin Fitzpatrick def. 24-Anthony Vecchiarelli, 2&1
After back-to-back wins to close out the front nine, Vecchiarelli saw his lead at 2-up. But Fitzpatrick gained momentum as he won the next three holes, including a birdie on the par-4 13th. He finished strong with a win on hole 15 and then closed out the match with a par on the 17th to secure a spot in the round of 16.
23-Ethan Whitney def. 10-Bill Drohen, 19 holes
Drohen and Whitney went back and forth the entire day with multiple lead changes as both players won five holes during their 18-hole regulation match. Extra holes were needed to determine a winner, as Whitney made par to secure the victory.
22-Joey Harney def. 11-Jacob Finard, 20 holes
Finard and Harney were locked into a battle the entire morning and afternoon as the match required extra holes. Four of the 18 regulation holes were halved (or tied) as the rest of the 14 were split equally between the two players. Harney ended up closing out the match on the difficult par-3 11th with a par to send him to the Round of 16.
21-Weston Jones def. 12-Christian Emmerich, 2&1
Jones found himself in a bit of trouble as Emmerich won holes 6 through 8 which saw him 2-down after the opening nine holes of the match. But thanks to four birdies on the back nine, including one at the uphill par-4 17th, Jones was able to complete the comeback and close out the match 2&1.
13-Jack Boulger def. 20-Nick McLaughlin, 4&3
Boulger won the first hole and never trailed as the USC graduate made just one bogey to defeat the former University of Virginia standout and 2015 champion. McLaughlin won the 6th hole with a birdie.
14-C.J. Winchenbaugh def. 19-Shuvam Bhaumik, 3&2
The match was fairly even during the opening 10 holes, as both players won two holes a-piece. But Winchenbaugh, a Weston native, made a charge as he made birdies on holes 3, 5 and 7 to win the match 3&2.
18-Matt Parziale def. 15-Ben Kelly, 3&2
Parziale, the 2017 champion, never trailed in his opening match as he took a 1-up lead into the turn and added to it with birdies on holes 1 and 5. Kelly, a club champion at Blue Hill Country Club, made birdie on the 6th but overshot the green on the 7th and wasn’t able to save par.
17-Brian Higgins def. 16-Mark Turner, 3&2
Higgins earned his first match play victory in this event since 2013. A finalist in the 2002 Mass Amateur, Higgins won holes 2 and 4 and took a 2-up lead at the turn. Gloucester’s Turner, a graduate student at Dartmouth College won two holes on the front nine but lost the 11th and played even with Higgins the rest of the match.
Here are some other tidbits from Day 3 at the Massachusetts Amateur Championship.
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