- Golfer Benefits
NORTON, Massachusetts – David Pastore couldn’t help but get a little choked up when accepting the Clarence G. Cochrane Memorial Trophy and the $15,000 top prize that goes with it. It wasn’t his first professional victory, nor his first in a state open.
But Pastore knows what many other aspiring tour professionals know: winning is hard. But with a chance to prove himself on a course like TPC Boston where some of the game’s greats have triumphed, Pastore had this year’s Massachusetts Open Championship circled on his calendar for a while.
“I think that’s why I was emotional because I’ve put so much emphasis on this tournament,” said Pastore, the 31-year-old pro from Stamford, Connecticut. “I prepared well. I came up last week playing the course a few times, so I was comfortable with my game plan and had a really nice warm up this morning. So that kind of settled me down.”
After two days of names oscillating atop the leaderboard, victory was anything but assured for Pastore despite having a two-stroke lead entering the third and final round Wednesday. Still, he answered the call, making timely birdies and cleaning up for par when he needed to. With a two-putt birdie on the par-5 18th, Pastore clinched a two-stroke victory finishing with a three day total of 12-under-par 204 and adding his name to a list of other Connecticut natives to capture the title.
“It’s never easy no matter where you are,” said Pastore, who edged out three-time champion and fellow statesman Jason Thresher, of West Suffield. “To be honest I haven’t been playing great the last few weeks and months, and I really played well this week. I’m proud of the way I played. Today wasn’t as low a score as the first two days, but I really I hung in there and made some putts when I needed to with some big up-and-downs.”
Ricky Stimets (Worcester Country Club) earned Low Amateur honors, finishing with scores of 68 and 69 in the last two rounds to go 7-under total and place T5 overall. He edged out TPC Boston member Jack Boulger, of Walpole, who finished T7 overall, his best finish in a state open.
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For most of the final round Wednesday, Pastore held a lead between 2-3 strokes over Nicholas Pandelena (Atkinson, NH), Mike Van Sickle (Wexford, PA) and Brad Adamonis (Ponte Verda, Florida), all playing in the group in front.
Pastore increased his lead to three strokes after making a 10-footer for birdie. He then proceeded to hit his drive far right, settling on an uneven patch of grass. After punching out into the fairway, his third landed about 12-feet pin high, but on the proper shelf. With a clutch par putt, it appeared to be his championship to lose.
“I was lucky to find it really, but it was not in a good spot at all,” Pastore said. “I played a pretty risky shot to try to get back into the fairway, but I really didn’t have any other options. It could’ve been six or seven easily, and to make a par was was huge, especially after coming up with birdie on the hole before, just to keep that momentum going.”
The pressure mounted on the 16th when Pastore three-putted for bogey on the short but tricky, par-3 16th. Around the same time, Thresher finished with an eagle on the 18th to get to 10-under total and within one of the lead. But remaining unfazed, Pastore secured a two-putt par on the 17th. On 18, knowing where he stood, he contemplated playing three shots into the green, but decided to go for it in two.
“I felt that was a weak way to play the hole,” said Pastore, who instead pulled driver and then 7-iron from the first cut of rough into the green from about 205 yards. When the final birdie putt dropped, Pastore pumped his right fist and saluted the gallery which had been growing throughout the day.
“It’s definitely difficult [to win],” said Pastore, who also won the New Hampshire Open in 2017. “I’ve played a few rounds and kind of been in position recently but haven’t closed it off. I couldn’t just show up, that’s why it feels good to get it done and to know where I stood and do what I needed to do on the last hole because a lot of times you don’t do what you want to do [in those situations.]”
Pandelena is awaiting the results of an MRI from a self-inflicted foot injury, which hampered him throughout the week. But one thing is certain: the man has heart. Pandelena went bogey-free 3-under through 12 holes but a pair of late bogeys hampered his opportunity to rally. But the sweet-swinging righty with an ever-growing beard said his foot got slightly better each day and didn’t have a drastic impact on his swing.
“It was awesome, especially not knowing if I was going to play this week,” Pandelena said. “I was happy with how I played with all three days. Overall my game was pretty good. You come here and watch the PGA Tour tournaments over the years, and it kind of feels that way.”
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Stimets, who has past pro experience himself, not only earned low amateur honors, he was the best finisher out of any Massachusetts golfers. Knowing he’d have to be extremely low to have a shot at contenting for the overall title, he instead focused on earning low amateur titles. With a new putter in the bag following an even-par 72, Stimets had solid rounds of 68 and 69 to earn a top-five finish.
“It feels fantastic, I played very well all week,” Stimets said. “I wasn’t really out of position and hit a lot of greens all week. The longer the event, the better golfers have a chance to come to the top.”
Just like this year, the 114th Massachusetts Open is set to take place at a first-time site. The championship will take place June 10-12, 2024, at Cape Cod’s Willowbend in Mashpee.
The low 20 and ties from this year’s Mass Open are exempt into next year’s field.
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