- Golfer Benefits
LONGMEADOW, Massachusetts – In a championship that was full of stellar amateur play, it took journeyman professional Michael Kartrude until the 54th hole to have a hand on the trophy. And even then it took some luck.
Despite trailing by two shots with four holes to play, the 32-year-old from West Palm Beach, Florida, hung around long enough to win the 112th Massachusetts Open in his first appearance in the championship. Kartrude shot 4-under-par 66 in the final round, and overcame a one-stroke deficit on the final hole to finish with a three-day score of 10-under 200 to win the Clarence G. Cochrane Memorial Trophy and the $15,000 prize out of the $75,000 professional purse.
“This is my biggest win for sure,” said Kartrude, who won the 2019 New Hampshire Open. “I love golf and to come to a new course, I just like the challenge of it and you just pick apart the golf course the way you see it and try your best.”
Playing in the final group, Wilbraham’s Matthew Naumec (GreatHorse) had a valient effort and finished tied for second place at 9-under 201 to win the Commonwealth Cup for low amateur. Naumec, 25, who regained his amateur status in February this year, held a two-shot lead after making birdie on the 14th, but Kartrude closed the gap to one with a birdie on the 16. On 18th hole, Naumec finished with a double-bogey after hitting an errant tee shot with his driver to the right in deep rough and having to take an unplayable ball.
Peter Knade, a pro from St. Simons Island, Georgia, birdied holes 15, 17, and 18 to match the course record of 64 and finish tied for second overall. Westminster’s Ethan Whitney (Oak Hill Country Club), a sophomore at Temple University, was the overnight leader at 9-under but finished 8-under 202 for the championship, good for 4th overall.
Walking up the 18th fairway, Michael Kartrude had no clue what the scores were, which was unusual for him. “Usually I know the number, but I had no idea.”
What he would soon find out was that his 3-wood and subsequent knockdown wedge that landed behind the pin would put him two putts away from winning the Mass Open.
Despite a spectacular up-and-down for par from the right rough on the 17th, Kartrude still trailed Matthew Naumec by a stroke. However, Naumec was stymied off the tee, with his drive landing in the deep rough, forcing him to take an unplayable ball. A few misplaced shots soon thereafter put him at a double bogey for the hole. Kartrude proceeded to two-putt and pumped his arms in excitement after tapping in for the victory.
“Matt played solid all day long, and he made one mistake, and I kind of hung around,” Kartrude said.
Though Kartrude missed a handful of putts inside or around 10-feet on the back nine, he finally converted on the downhill par-3 16th, as he landed it in front of the flagstick and pulled within a stroke of the lead.
“I needed that to go in,” Kartrude said. “Matt made a 35-footer on 11 and then a huge par save on 12, and I thought, ‘I need them to go in or I’m going to need help.'”
Though he came up short of the title, Naumec has now re-established himself as one of top-tier amateur golfers in Massachusetts.
After entering Friday in second place behind Whitney, Naumec took the lead on the 10th hole amid a streak of three birdies (9, 10, 11).
“I had success on that 10th hole for the week now, so sending it over that tee, I knew that I was going to put a good swing on it and have a good look for birdie, if not eagle,” Naumec said. “It felt great to have that lead.”
“[My caddy and I] had a great game plan, fairways, greens, putts falling, and it was like that the whole way, had one little mishap hole, but that’s golf, right?” Naumec said. “Everyone has bad shots, it just happened to be at a bad time, but I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to get back out there on the golf course.”
Despite the finish, Naumec said he entered the Mass Open to have fun, and the success was a bonus.
“If someone said, ‘Hey, you could have low-am’ at the beginning of the tournament, I would be more than happy,” he said. “I was out here to hit good golf shots and roll a couple of birdies if they fell and I think I did that, so I’m keeping my head high and calling it a successful week.”
Peter Knade, a former University of Maryland standout, and Naumec were the only two players to shoot all three rounds below par. Despite opening with a bogey on Friday, Knade made three consecutive over the next three holes and shot an incredible 30 on the back nine.
Mike Van Sickle (Wexford, PA), who donned colorful pairs of baseball-themed pants this week (Astros, Red Sox and Blue Jays) also made a late charge up the leaderboard and finished 5th by matching the course-record with a 64. Wearing Blue Jays attire on the final day, Van Sickle shot 31 on the back nine with birdies on the 12th, 14th, 15th and 18th to tally his only score below par in the championship.
“I’m excited. What’s going through my mind is I just got off the phone with my wife, and I can’t wait to call her again.” – Michael Kartrude, after his victory Friday. Kartrude and his wife welcomed a daughter into the world four months ago.
“I figured if I could just put a nice game plan together, let those two battle it out for first place, and I’ll just play for the pro check…but I just hung around.” — Michael Kartrude
“It was amazing to feel the adrenaline in your arms and adrenaline in your legs when you’re over a putt. I definitely missed it and I’m looking forward to the next time I get that feeling, so it was awesome to walk around out there with family and a bunch of friends, so it was a special day for sure.” – Matthew Naumec on what it felt like to play his first championship event in more than a year.
“The course, it was phenomenal. We had so much rain that second day and we came out here four hours later and it was like nothing ever happened. I didn’t see one wet spot, it was great. Greens rolled fantastic, kept their speed throughout the entire day and even the fairways and the bunkers were great.” – Matthew Naumec on the course conditions.
“I loved it. I didn’t make bad swings, I just couldn’t catch any good breaks, so it happens. But it was a great time having all the people there.” – Ethan Whitney on playing in front of a crowd.
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