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NORTON, Massachusetts – If Monday’s opening round of the 113th Massachusetts Open proved anything it’s that PGA Tour pros aren’t the only ones who can shoot really low during a competition at TPC Boston. In fact after Day 1 of the first-ever state open held at this prestigious club, the first three best scores turned in belonged to college-aged amateurs.
In the morning round, the scores kept going lower and lower with names shifting atop the leaderboard. First it was TPC Boston member Jack Boulger, of Walpole, who hit a brilliant 5-iron into the par-5 18th green, to set up a two-putt birdie to finish 5-under-par 67. Minutes later, North Carolina State’s Joey Lenane, of Dedham, knocked down a spectacular 30-foot birdie putt on the par-4 9th to close at 6-under 66. Vanderbilt’s John Broderick, of Wellesley, got to 5-under as well, but gave one back late to finish with a 67.
Perhaps this is the year an amateur finally breaks through to win the Mass Open for the first time since Kevin Quinn in 1999.
But with 38 players finishing even-par 72 or better, there’s plenty left to be settled over the next two days. The field of 150 will be trimmed to the low 50 scorers and ties and any player within 7 strokes of the lead after Round 2. Players advancing will play in twosomes Wednesday for the final 18 holes, with a sudden-death playoff following, if needed.
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Joey Lenane couldn’t have executed a much better start to his second-ever appearance in the Mass Open. After a finishing T38 last year, the rising sophomore at NC State, came out firing Monday with a bogey-free 66, which held up the entire afternoon. His only previous appearance at the course was in a PGA Junior League event. Needless to say, he’s come a long way since his early days in golf.
“I’m happy to be back home playing competitive golf, and I look forward to the next couple days,” said Lenane, who appeared in the postseason for the Wolfpack in his first season. “I kept it simple, didn’t do anything too crazy. I made a lot of smart decisions and hit 16 greens [in regulation]. I made it easy on myself and kept getting myself birdie looks.”
Such looks came right away as Lenane pocketed birdies on the 10th and 11th, getting to 3-under with another birdie on the 18th. By the time he reached the 9th hole, he contemplated 3-wood or 3-iron to leave himself with a good look at the green for a birdie bid to get into the lead.
“I decided to go 3 wood because I know the hole turns left and I’ve been pulling 3-wood, so I kind of figured play for the pull, and it worked out well,” he said.
The drive, great. The approach, not as much. Lenane left himself nearly 30 feet from the cup, but the young phenom stepped up with Nick Taylor-like poise and drained it.
“I’m pretty comfortable out here,” said Lenane when asked about playing this event alongside both professionals and other talented amateurs. “I feel like my game’s in a good place, and I’m rolling it well, so there’s no reason I can’t go out there and put out a good number and give myself a shot at winning.”
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Boulger, who had the honors of hitting the opening tee shot from the 1st tee on Monday, joined TPC Boston two years ago and certainly felt comfortable with the layout, which was playing about 6,942 yards Monday.
“I always played it tipped out,” said Boulger, who finished his graduate year at University of Southern California this spring. “It helped that I played so many times here from back, because it gave me confidence that I’m playing up. It’s still a tough course.”
With his brother, UConn’s Eric Boulger, on the bag, Jack hit all but two greens in regulation on Monday, bookending the front nine with birdies, before making an uphill for birdie on the 11th, followed by 15-footer for eagle on the gettable par-5 12th to get to 5-under. Despite a bogey on the 15th, Boulger muscled up an iron from 227-yards on the 18th, which landed on the left side of the green. Though he buzzed the cup with his eagle putt, he hit the 6-foot comebacker to finish 5-under.
“That was the best ball-striking round I’ve had in a while,” said Boulger, who finished T17 in last year’s Mass Open. “I was hitting it inside 20 feet every hole.”
Longtime professional grinder Brad Adamonis (Ponte Vedra, FL), who turned 50 this year, perhaps can channel some energy from Rob Labritz who won the title at age 50 two years ago at Oak Hill. Adamonis, who qualified for the U.S. Senior Open earlier this year, knocked down four birdies on the back nine to start, adding an eagle-3 on the 7th to finish with a 68.
Steady winds made life a bit more difficult for the afternoon wave.
Defending champion Michael Kartrude (West Palm Beach, FL) was paired with fellow past champions Jason Thresher (2016, 17, 18), of Connecticut, and Michael Martel (2019), of New Hampshire. Both Kartrude and Thresher shot 70 putting them at T12.
David Pastore (Stamford, CT), who finished T2 a couple years ago with Thresher and three others, also shot 68 along with Chris Wiatr (Juno Beach, FL) & Nicholas Pandelena (Atkinson, NH).
Round 2 begins at 7:30 Tuesday morning. Admission and parking is open and free to the public.
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