- Golfer Benefits
MANCHESTER, Vermont – For Team Massachusetts, the theme of the final round of the New England Junior Amateur on Wednesday was resilience.
Both the boys’ and girls’ teams entered Round 3 with multiple-stroke deficits, but put together their most complete team performances of the championship to finish in second place in both divisions at Manchester Country Club.
The boys’ team shot the lowest team score in the final round, and the girls’ squad nearly caught up with eventual winner Connecticut. Morgan Smith (Vesper Country Club) finished as runner-up in the Girls Division after forcing a playoff for the individual girls’ title.
“Really, really proud of the boys and girls today,” Team Massachusetts Coach Kyle Harris said. “They came out, they represented really well, they showed a lot of grit. Both teams knew coming in that Connecticut was going to be hard to catch, but we wanted to hold onto second and really just fight to keep our position and not mail in it and they did a great job, and I’m really proud of how they performed. It’s just awesome to see the kids grind and play hard and have fun. I saw a lot of smiles and that’s what this is all about.”
Team Connecticut finished the championship in first place in both divisions. Connecticut’s Will Lodge (Country Club of Darien) came away with the boys’ individual crown, while Connecticut’s Arabella Lopez (Redding Country Club), 12, was the top finisher among the girls’ competitors.
Team Massachusetts finished the third round with a 3-under team score, making it the only team to shoot below par after 18 holes on Wednesday.
Cummaquid Golf Club’s Colin Spencer and Aidan O’Donovan both made multiple-stroke improvements on the final day of competition to finish as the Bay State’s top individual scorers. Spencer, who was 6-over through the first two rounds, carded a 5-under 67 on Wednesday to shoot the team’s lowest score of the championship. O’Donovan, who was 3-over after Tuesday’s rounds, posted a 3-under 69. O’Donovan and Spencer finished as the seventh- and eighth-ranked golfers.
“I hit it a lot of balls fair and I made a lot of putts, that definitely helped out a lot,” Spencer said. “It’s definitely fun. Elias, the guy I played with, shot 66 with a hole-in-one, so that was fun to watch. We just had a good group, so both of us were kind of feeding off each other.”
Spencer was also pleased with how Team Massachusetts played as a whole on Wednesday.
“I think we were definitely disappointed after yesterday, it wasn’t exactly what we wanted,” Spencer said. “But it’s cool to see we were able to hang on today and, as always, tried to be the lowest score today. It was a lot more fun today.”
Spencer said it was “awesome” to put together a good round at the same time as friend and fellow club member O’Donovan, whom he plays with regularly.
Massachusetts also counted the scores of Ryan Scollins (Franklin Country Club), Patrick Ginnity (Northern Spy Golf Club) and Sean Dully (Kernwood Country Club) for its Round 3 total. Ginnity carded an even-par 72, matching his best score of the tournament, and Dully posted a 1-over 73. Scollins, the team’s Day 1 leader, carded a 4-over 76.
Entering the day in an 11-stroke deficit, the Massachusetts’ girls’ team had ground to make up in order to challenge Connecticut for the Girls Division title.
Smith and Annie Dai (Longmeadow Country Club) took advantage of bogeys by Connecticut’s Lopez and Yvette O’Brien (eClub of Connecticut) on the front nine to cut into the deficit, reducing it to just five strokes as the teams made the turn. With only three holes left to play, Team Massachusetts moved to three strokes back of first place. Though Massachusetts ended the competition in second place, they finished several strokes ahead of third-place Rhode Island.
Smith began the third round in second place but quickly caught up to Lopez, the Round 1 and 2 leader, in the girls’ individual competition. She was even-par on the front nine, but birdied holes 10 and 15 to put herself two strokes up against Lopez, who bogeyed 15 and did not make a birdie to begin the back nine. Lopez subsequently made an eagle on hole 17 to tie the score, and both golfers bogeyed the final hole to force a playoff.
After the two golfers tied on their first trip around the 7th hole, Lopez narrowly edged Smith on their second playoff hole.
“Especially proud of Morgan for battling into that playoff,” Harris said. “She had to overcome a two-stroke deficit coming into the day and then showed a whole lot of heart to save a really good bogey on 18 that forced the playoff.”
Dai, who led the Girls Division at the 2021 Championship, made one of the biggest round-to-round improvements of the tournament, shooting a 1-over 73 on Wednesday morning after finishing at 5-over in Round 1 yesterday and at 6-over during Round 2. She carded birdies on holes 2, 10 and 11 and finished only three holes above par to close out her trip to the New England Junior Amateur in sixth place.
Dai felt her approach shots played better on Wednesday and was pleased with her putts for birdie. She was also proud of the girls’ team’s final-round performance after they didn’t get off to the start they hoped for on Tuesday.
“I think it says that we can keep our head in the game and keep pushing hard, event when we don’t do our best,” Dai said. “And even when we look at the leaderboard and it’s not looking that good, we can push it out.”
Keira Joshi (Nashawtuc Country Club) completed her round as the ninth-ranked golfer, shooting her best score of the championship, 76, on Wednesday.
7. Aidan O’Donovan, 72-75-69–216
8. Colin Spencer, 76-74-67–217
9. Ryan Scollins, 71-72-76–219
T11. Patrick Ginnity, 72-77-72–221
T13. Sean Dully, 72-79-73–224
T23. Aidan LeBlanc, 79-75-79–233
33. Nick McCabe, 78-78-83–239
2. Morgan Smith, 71-72-72–215
T6. Annie Dai, 77-78-73–228
9. Keira Joshi, 79-78-76–233
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