Round of 32: Three Intriguing Matchups At Framingham CC - MASSGOLF

Storylines Abound As Mass Amateur Turns To 1-on-1 Matchups

FRAMINGHAM, Massachusetts — The field of 144 that began the week has now been reduced to the last 32 as we enter match play. Wednesday is the longest day of the championship at Framingham Country Club, with 24 matches set to take place between the Round of 32 and Round of 16.

The cutline to make it to this point was 2-over, the closest to even-par its been in over 15 years. Certainly anybody who has made it to the bracket has earned their place.

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Here’s a look at three intriguing Round of 32 matchups:

1-Matt Cowgill vs. 32-Matt Naumec (7:30 a.m.)

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Aside from this being a Matt vs. Matt matchup, the opening game in match play features two former golf professionals who have made it to the final match in previous years. Cowgill made his run to the 36-hole final in 2017 against Matt Parziale, while Naumec was last year’s finalist playing Ryan Downes at Essex County Club.

While the Framingham crowd will undoubtedly be pulling for their fellow member in Naumec, Cowgill has been stellar so far this week. On Monday, he was nearly bogey-free, and on Tuesday, he made birdie on five of the first six holes on the back nine, sinking some 20 footers in the process. If he continues feeling confident with the putter, as well as his draw off the tee, we could see a similar run to seven years ago.

While Naumec’s consecutive 73s don’t jump off the screen, he has shown poise over the past couple of days by avoiding any big numbers, as well surviving the star-studded playoff that featured three fellow current or former Division I golfers (Ryan Downes starts at Vanderbilt in fall). Even after pushing his tee shot right toward the fescue knoll on the par-5 1st, he managed to get it in a safe spot, chip on, and 2-putt his way into the final. If it comes down to the closing par-5 18th, Naumec may have the edge, given he has made birdie both times this week.

Either way, it’s an excellent mid-amateur showdown between two friends to start the day.

Matthew Cowgill, left, and Matthew Naumec qualified for the 2022 U.S. Mid-Amateur together at Crumpin-Fox Club. (Mass Golf, file)

12-Weston Jones vs. 21-Chris Bornhorst (8:40 a.m.)

This early matchup could be a fun back-and-forth affair in the morning. Both players have played at the Division I level and have the stamina to grind through two days of match play.

Jones, who currently attends Rutgers University, has made it to the quarterfinals twice while competing in the Mass Amateur, and this may be the year he make his best championship bid. Save for a late triple bogey on the par-3 17th on Tuesday, Jones has been able to score well out here, especially on the front nine (33-34 over two days). That should set up well for him early in matches, and then it will be a matter of if he can close it out on the back.

Bornhorst, who made the semifinals three years ago his home course of Brae Burn, is a stout player himself. The former Babson and University of Colorado golfer also got off to a strong start at Framingham, shooting 2-under. He similarly stumbled a bit on the back nine Tuesday, giving back five shots.

If these two are tied by the time they reach the top of the hill on the 15th, it could be quite the roller coaster ride to the finish.

Chris Bornhorst will face off against Weston Jones in the first round of match play at the Mass Amateur. (David Colt)

3-Sean Fitzpatrick vs. 30-Ryan Downes (9:30 a.m.)

While there are several clashes of mid-ams versus junior and college players, this one packs quite a bit of firepower.

Fitzpatrick’s name fills many of the boards hanging in the Norman-style clubhouse at the iconic George Wright Golf Course in Hyde Park. It’s difficult to find a more consistent player in the field as hitting greens in regulations is his M.O. Fitzpatrick has also played the four par-5s well so far, tallying 7-under on them over two rounds. He made eagle on the 12th Monday, and in this matchup you could see both players walking away with a 3 with nothing lost or gained.

Downes has found his effort to repeat to be a difficult one so far, but it should be no surprise given the talented field and the lowest cutline in recent years. After making it to the finals the past two years, the defending champion has really shined and held his nerve in match play. Downes has gotten up on his opponents early, and once he has his numbers fully dialed in, he’s one of the best at attacking pins and could very well hole out from several spots on this course, just like his chip-in on the 1st to start his tournament on Monday.

Ryan Downes, center, reads a putt during the second round of the Mass Amateur on Tuesday. (Teddy Doggett)

Honorable mention: 

  • Aidan O’Donovan and Billy Walthouse is an all-University of Rhode Island matchup. O’Donovan recently finished his sophomore year at URI, while Walthouse led the Rams squad between 2013-2017. O’Donovan also went under the Essex course record in Round 2 last year. Speaking of Rhody ties, the second matchup of the day features former Providence College standout Kyle Tibbetts facing off with Bryant University’s Ty Dupuis, who qualified for the U.S. Amateur last year.

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