- Golfer Benefits
MARLBOROUGH, Massachusetts – After two days of stroke play at the 39th Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship, a runaway victory seems unlikely. Boston’s Sean Fitzpatrick (George Wright Golf Course) weathered another chilly, overcast round Tuesday at Marlborough Country Club, shooting a bogey-free, 5-under-par 66 to get to 5-under total and take a slim, one-stroke lead over defending champion Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea Golf Club).
Parziale shot even-par on Tuesday, with another former professional golfer Nathan Davis (Segregansett Country Club) and Kyle Tibbetts (Framingham Country Club) sitting one behind him at 3-under.
With some overnight rains, the course played softer in the morning, but it didn’t seem to faze many of the leaders as 17 players who are T20 or better currently shot under-par on Tuesday, compared to five the day prior. And now exact 30 players will advance to the final round Wednesday.
There’s no such thing as a perfect round, but Sean Fitzpatrick (George Wright Golf Course) did just about everything he had to do right Tuesday at Marlborough Country Club. Fitzpatrick made five birdies, including three consecutive on holes 8-10 to move into the overnight lead entering the final round.
“I hit every green in regulation today; that was my goal when I came out this afternoon,” said Fitzpatrick, the 38-year-old Walpole resident. “Yesterday I came here and I tried to play conservative and hit a lot of fairways. I’m not very familiar with the golf course, and Saturday was my first time playing, so I just tried to hit it straight, keep it in play keep in front of me. Today, I knew I could play a little bit more aggressive on my approaches, and I was able to execute and capitalize.”
Fitzpatrick’s birdie on the 17th put him ahead of the defending champion Matt Parziale, who finished minutes before him. Both men have played together over time and will be paired in the final twosome.
“He’s a great player, his record speaks for itself, so it’ll be a good time and I’m looking forward to it,” Fitzpatrick said.
If Fitzpatrick wins, it’ll be his first Mass Golf Championship since him and Paul Michell split the 2009 Mass Four-Ball title with Herbie Aikens and Ryan Riley. Asked about sleeping on the lead, Fitzpatrick said there’s no place he’d rather be.
“It’d be great way to end the season,” Fitzpatrick said. “I started the season in the best possible way, getting through U.S. Open Local Qualifying. To finish this week with some hardware would be very special.”
Unlike seven years ago when Parziale won by an overwhelming 15 strokes at Marlborough, he has some company atop the leaderboard. Round 2 was much different than Round 1 when he poured in six birdies to shoot 4-under, as Parziale managed just one birdie (hole 18 again) and 16 pars to shoot even-par and find himself one back of Fitzpatrick.
“I had a good chance to make a bunch of putts and they just didn’t fall, but I was happy,” said Parziale, who won the Mid-Am title in 2015, 2016 and 2021. “I’ve been able to keep out of trouble for the most part, I’ve been putting well, so I’m just going to stick to that tomorrow and see what happens and hopefully have a chance down the stretch.”
After Wednesday, Parziale will be heading to The Crump Cup at Pine Valley Country Club in New Jersey, rated as the best course in the United States. “I had to miss [the Mid-Am] a couple times in previous years, but I saw that I could make it work this year.”
Also looking for their first Mass Golf title are Kyle Tibbetts and Nathan Davis, who will be paired together in the final round. Davis started his round with consecutive birdies, but his best shot came on the fourth, hitting his approach to 3 feet and making the birdie. “I was excited for it to be a tap-in, especially after I didn’t have a good start on hole 1.”
On the downhill, par-3 5th, Davis landed his ball front left and drained the long birdie putt for his 4th of 5 circles on the day.
“It was a nice to bounce back, and that was nice to get me going again,” said Davis, a Taunton native who holds the course record of 61 at John F. Parker Municipal Course in his hometown.
“It’s always good to be in the mix,” he added. “You’re never going to run away with anything, but to give yourself a chance on the third day is all I can ask for.”
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Tibbetts had one of the best shots today with an eagle on the first hole, his 10th of the day. His only birdie was on the 10th hole, his opener, but he still finds himself two off the lead.
“I had a little wedge in there on 1, and I knew it was good, and a guy from our club Ray Wright and my dad didn’t have any reaction until they both yelled and put their hands in the air,” Tibbetts said of his eagle. “Anytime you can dunk one from the fairway and steal a couple of extra shots, it definitely helps.”
The best round of the morning round came from Mid-Amateur newcomer Henry Hall, who made birdie on three of his first four holes to shoot 3-under 68 to get back to even-par for the championship. The young lefty is a former Weston High School standout and said he feels comfortable with Marlborough having played it plenty of times growing up with friends who were members.
As for playing in his first Mid-Am, “It’s nice to meet people your own age and at the same point in life with you,” said Hall, who turned the minimum age of 25 on August 23. “We’re all working, doing this just for fun, and are out here to have a good time and play some good golf as well.”
On Tuesday morning, Mike Bushnell (Vesper Country Club) looked out over the horizon from the driving range at the highest point of Marlborough Country Club and soaked it all in, thankful for the opportunity to play in the Mass Mid-Amateur.
These last two days have meant the world for the 55-year-old from Chelmsford. Two years ago, Bushnell was in a severe fight with pulmonary fibrosis disease where lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred.
“It’s a horrific autoimmune disease, and your body attacks your lungs,” said Bushnell after his round Tuesday. “I was in a lot of trouble. You have a fight going on but you need to be healthy to get a lung transplant.”
After months of tests, Bushnell was put on that list in January 2021. While he was awaiting the procedure, he needed supplemental oxygen and struggled to walk a few feet without gasping for breath. In March of that year, Bushnell was on the operating table, but the doctor rejected the new lungs saying they weren’t good enough. Though his heath was still waning, in April 2021, a proper donor was found. The procedure was a success, and while he was in the hospital for two weeks, he was up and attempting to walk within three days.
Three weeks later he was watching his son and nephew play baseball and helping his daughter move into her college apartment. And now he’s back to playing golf and managing his construction company.
“It’s just surreal, completely surreal,” Bushnell said. “My wife Debby was incredible. She basically stopped working and had to take care of me and make sure I got up and ate.”
A double lung transplant has kept Chelmsford’s Mike Bushnell on the golf course & most importantly with his family. If there is anybody who appreciates playing in this year’s Mass Mid-Amateur, it’s him.
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) September 20, 2022
These days, Bushnell is back to a normal routine managing his construction company. A baseball player growing up a Chelmsford High, Bushnell got into golf in his 20s to stay competitive.
He’s played in Lowell Cities tournaments of the years and this year decided to try to qualify for the Mass Mid-Amateur for the first time since 2011. At Garner Municipal Golf Course on August 25, Bushnell found himself at even-par with just two holes to go. But then on 17 he topped a shot into the woods and made triple-bogey. Unfortunately, at the time, that put him one shot below the cut line, but he had alternate status. Finding himself on a list once again, Bushnell was the fourth name on the list of alternates and once again moved up on that list to get into the championship.
Bushnell is humbled by the procedure that saved his life, and now does his part to spread awareness for organ transplant. He took part in the Transplant Games of America last month in San Diego and took home a silver medal. Above all, he continues to advocate for organ donation.
“On somebody’s worst day of their life, they saved my life,” he said. “One organ donor can save eight lives and enhance 75 other lives with skin tissue, cornea, etc. What those doctors are doing, they’re miracle workers, and they’re saving lives every day. I can’t say enough about them and how much thanks I have for them.
“I feel like I’ve been given this gift.”
Flashback To 2013
Picture this. You’re playing a round of golf and get called off the course for thunder and lightning. You get to your car and realize all your friends going into the clubhouse, so you feel obligated to join them. You walk past some trees, take a step and all of a sudden hear a loud crack of thunder, and everything goes black. You wake up and realize you’ve just been struck by lightning, odds of that being about 1 in a million. That was the experience of Marlborough Country Club member Anne Hopper, who was back at the club volunteering for the Mass Mid-Amateur.
Fortunately she survived because it wasn’t a direct strike, rather a side flash where it hit a taller object (the tree) and a portion of the current jumps to somebody below. Aside from an injured ankle and some — dare we say — shock, Hopper made a full recovery and recalls cracking some jokes with the paramedics. “They asked me how I feel, and I said ‘I feel enlightened,'” Hopper recalled. Today, Hopper is especially cautious around thunderstorms, but she has a good sense of humor of it. When Marlborough dedicated it’s new centennial clock, there’s a series of bricks with the names contributors.
Hopper’s brick reads:
A Little Chaos For Luther: Andy Luther (Boston Golf Club) had a major roller coaster ride in round two, having made two eagles and three double-bogeys. Luther started with a double-bogey on the opening hole and found himself 5-over through 7, but an eagle on 8 followed by another on the drivable downhill 10th got him back to 1-over. These shots kept him in the hunt to make the cut, however, he came up two strokes shy.
Parkers In The Mix: After two rounds, we now have a different pair of unrelated Parkers in the hunt: Brandon Parker (Worcester Country Club) and Randy Parker (Weston Golf Club), who are currently 2-under and 1-under overall, respectively. Tommy Parker (George Wright Golf Course) shot 1-under on Monday but missed the cut by one on Tuesday.
2023 Exemptions: The low 15 and ties from the final scores of this year’s championship are exempt into next year’s championship at Willowbend on Cape Cod.