Mass Amateur: Zelmati Earns Medalist Honors; Match Play Bracket Set After Playoff - MASSGOLF

Arthur Zelmati Earns Stroke Play Medalist Honors; Field Of 32 Set For Match Play

For Immediate Release: July 12, 2022

CONCORD, Massachusetts – Concord Country Club has quite the reputation as one of the sternest’s test in golf in Massachusetts, and it kept that unyielding standard Tuesday in the second round of the 114th Massachusetts Amateur Championship. Bright skies were met with heavy winds during the second round of this year’s state amateur, and with no players shooting better than even par on the day, it was a true test of survival.

After battling it out through 36 holes over the past two days, the field of 32 for match play has been set. It took an 11-for-10 playoff of the players who finished 8-over-par to determine the 32nd and final spot for match play. All but one player made par or better on the par-3 9th to wrap it up in the first playoff hole.

The Round of 32 will begin at 7:30 Wednesday morning, and the Round of 16 will take place in the afternoon. The quarterfinals and semifinals begin Thursday, and the 36-hole final match will take place Friday.

Boston’s Arthur Zelmati (George Wright Golf Course) was the Harry B. McCracken, Jr. Stroke Play Medalist as he finished 2-under overall. Zelmati, the 2020 Mass Mid-Amateur champion, shot a 1-over 71 on Tuesday to earn the top seed and will seek his first match play victory after a first round exit back in 2020.

Westwood’s Will Frodigh (Dedham Country & Polo Club) and Wilbraham’s Matthew Naumec (GreatHorse) finished second and third overall with scores over 1-over and 2-over total, respectively.

The following players advanced in the playoff: Nick McLaughlin (Far Corner Golf Club); Matt Williams (Boston Golf Club); Jack Tobin (Marlborough Country Club); Raymond Dennehy (Oak Hill Country Club); Christian Emmerich (Kernwood Country Club); Andrew DiRamio (North Hill Country Club) Kyle Tibbetts (Framingham Country Club); Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea Golf Club); Jacob Finard (Pine Brook Country Club); Ryan Downes (GreatHorse).

ONLINE: MASS GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL | ROUND 2 SCORESMATCH PLAY STARTING TIMESROUND 1 RECAPPHOTO GALLERY | PAST CHAMPIONS

MATCH PLAY BRACKET

WHAT HAPPENED

Playing with the lead is never easy, and Arthur Zelmati proved that when he opened with a triple-bogey 8 on the par-5 1st hole, followed by a bogey on the par-4 2nd. But not one to hang his head, Zelmati responded by holing out from 90 yards for eagle on the par-4 5th, and following up later in the round with a par-5 17th, using a 3-wood and 8-iron to set-up a 3-foot tap-in.

“That definitely made up for the little mess at the start,” said Zelmati, after his round of 1-over 71 on Tuesday.

Zelmati, who missed last year’s Mass Amateur due to injury, said he’s thrilled to be in this spot of being the top seed. He’s been finding decent lines all week and striking it well.

However, his lone match play experience was the Mass Amateur two years ago when he was eliminated in the first round. Now he hopes to go much further.

“It’s just amazing,” Zelmati said. “Whenever you can keep playing great courses like this against a really good field, it’s just what we play for. It’s the biggest event of the year.”

Arthur Zelmati is the No. 1 seed in Mass Amateur match play. (Teddy Doggett)

Wellesley’s Conner Willett (Charles River Country Club) received a stirring ovation from members of Charles River along with friends and family after finishing his round on the 9th hole Tuesday. Though Willett eased into match play at 4-over total, it was an emotional embrace for the Georgetown University sophomore, whose father passed away unexpectedly over the weekend. Many of the players, caddies and spectators have been wearing blue ribbons to honor the passing of Willett’s father, Rick Willett.

“I appreciate all the players, a bunch of them came up to me today [and] said their condolences,” Willett said. “I have a lot of friends and family here at Mass Golf.”

As for the round Tuesday, “It meant everything and nothing at the same time,” said Willett, who earned the No. 9 seed. “I’m definitely really pumped, and I know my dad would be proud right now.”

Conner Willett has put on an inspiring performance through the first two rounds of the Mass Amateur. (Teddy Doggett)

Matthew Naumec, the low amateur at the Mass Open last month at Longmeadow Country Club, is back in match play in his first year since regaining his amateur golf status. Naumec closed out his round with a birdie on the 7th and 9th holes to finish with a 74 and lock up the 3rd overall seed.

The best rounds of the day came from 2009 champion Bill Drohen (Bradford Country Club) and Ricky Stimets (Worcester Country Club), who both played in the morning wave. Drohen played himself back into contention with an even-par 70 on Tuesday. He surged near the top after rolling in four consecutive birdies on holes 17, 18, 1 and 2.

“My swing felt great, and I was just in cruise control after that point,” said Drohen, who will be the 11th seed. “The first nine, I was just hitting my fairways. I think that was the key to being successful here. I don’t know if I missed one fairway on the whole front side.”

Drohen gave a few back on the front, including a bogey on the 6th and a three-putt bogey on the 7th, and he just burned the edge for birdie on the 8th. However, his final hole was the most nerve-wrecking as the short, uphill par-3 9th was playing directly into the wind. Drohen initially thought he left his drive short, but it ended up barely resting on the slope of the green, instead of rolling to the back. Because of the wind, Drohen took off, running up to mark his ball before the wind knocked it back off the green.

“One of the guys we were playing with said ‘Bill, did you play track?’ and I said, ‘I avoid running at all costs,'” Drohen said. “When I got up there I had to catch my breath. I could’ve had a really difficult 40-yard chip from a tight lie.”

Instead he closed out with a par to secure his first match play spot since 2018. He also made it to match play back at Concord in 2007.

“Playing today was a huge confidence booster,” Drohen said. “I know I can hit a good distance. I like the course. It fits my eye. There’s not a lot of trouble holes for me. Match play is going to be pretty cool. I’m going to have a little less stress, and I’m going to go out there and be aggressive.”

Bill Drohen reads a putt during the second round of the Mass Amateur. The 2009 champion has made it back to match play. (Teddy Doggett)

Ricky Stimets (Worcester Country Club) also lead the morning wave with an even-par 70 to clinch his third consecutive spot in match play. Stimets, the 2020 Cape Cod Amateur champion, said it was a grind managing the course with the wind, but overall he was swinging the club well. He sank five birdies in his rounds including the 1st, 5th and 8th holes down the stretch.

“I’m hitting it great off the tee,” said Stimets, a former professional golfer. “My driver is probably the straightest club in my bag right now which is great for a week like this.”

Now Stimets will aim for a longer run at match play after first-round exits the past two years. The key for Wednesday, “More aggressive. I hit a lot of conservative tee shots and approaches, and I’ll probably hit more drivers out there during match play.”

WATCH: ROUND 2 RECAP

NOTABLE

Here are some other tidbits from Day 2 at the Massachusetts Amateur Championship. 

  • The cutline was also 8-over-par 148 when the Mass Amateur was held at Concord Country Club in 2007.
  • There are three past champions who have advanced to match play: Bill Drohen (2009), Nick McLaughlin (2015), and Matt Parziale (2017), the runner-up in last year’s Mass Amateur.
  • Brothers Christian & Aidan Emmerich (Kernwood Country Club) made it through to match play. Aidan, who will attend Michigan State in the fall, got in as the No. 16 seed, while Christian, a rising senior at Holy Cross, was the final player in as the No. 32 seed. If both players win their first round matches, they will play each other. Christian defeated Sean Fitzpatrick (George Wright Golf Course) in the first round of match play last year, and Aidan will face Fitzpatrick in the first round.
  • Will Frodigh, the younger brother of 2018 champion Patrick Frodigh, has made it to match play for the first time. Frodigh recently completed his redshirt season at Elon University.
  • Matt Williams (Boston Golf Club), who will begin his college tenure at Holy Cross this fall, was the first player to advance in the playoff as he made a 12-foot birdie putt on the 9th hole.
  • Kevin Daly, a 16-time club champion at Salem Country Club, was the lone player to eagle the par-4 13th hole during the first two rounds of stroke play.
  • Nick Drago, who will make his first appearance in match play, is the head coach of the newly-formed Bryant University women’s golf team.
  • Ben Kelly (Blue Hill Country Club) had the most improvement from Round 1 to Round 2, shooting an 80 on Tuesday, 11 strokes better than the day before.

QUOTABLE

  • “I was trying not to think about match play because I’ve done that in the past and just wasted shots. So I was trying to make good pars, take birdies when I could, but even-pars or bogeys I thought they were fine out there because the course was playing tough.” — Arthur Zelmati on his approach to Round 2.
  • “Being over the green today was an automatic bogey.” — Matt Naumec on the challenge of the Concord Country Club course.
  • “It’s been a while since I’ve played in match play in this event so it’ll be fun. I’m just happy not to be working, at least in the morning.” — Jake Shuman, on returning to match play in the Mass Amateur for the first time since being medalist in 2016 at Taconic Golf Club.
  • “I just wanted to get up there and hit a good shot. It didn’t really bother me going up first or help me either way. I hit the shot, got lucky it bounced left on the green, and my caddie Joe said ‘let’s make this and go home’ so I’m glad I could do that.” — Matt Williams on being the first player to advance in the playoff, making a birdie on the par-3 9th.
  • “He just kept telling me the same advice I gave him: ‘Just breathe, take deep breaths and one shots at a time.'” — Bill Drohen on what his son and caddie Matthew told him down the stretch.
  • “This will be fun to do this. I’ve been knocking on the door here for a few years, so it’s nice to squeak through and then move on to match play.” — Nick Drago (Plymouth Country Club), who shot 5-over and will make his first match play appearance.

 

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