- Golfer Benefits
NORTON, Massachusetts – The eyes of the golf world were on Massachusetts this year on more than one occasion. Not only did the Bay State host the U.S. Open for the first time in three decades, but the golf played from May-October, both on a professional and amateur level, captured the attention of many outside the state’s borders.
From the national spotlight to triumphant finishes and outstanding scores, and much more, here are 10 outstanding moments to look back on featuring golfers within the Mass Golf community.
JULY 11-15, 2022
No event tugged on the heartstrings more than this year’s Massachusetts Amateur Championship at Concord Country Club. Mere days after his father passed away unexpectedly, Conner Willett (Charles River Country Club) played the best golf of his life for five days. With hundreds watching on-site and many more following along on the live stream, Willett remained unfazed, making one incredible shot after another. His long, breaking putt during his semifinal match caught the attention of ESPN SportsCenter and made the top-10 plays on Friday. In the 36-hole final, he faced Ryan Downes (GreatHorse), the youngest player to ever make it this far in the Mass Amateur. After rallying to take a 1-up lead through 18-holes, Willett again had to rally, tying it on the 4th and then taking the lead for good on the 7th hole (25th of the day) by hitting his approach 3 feet to the hole and rolling it in for birdie. Only needing to tie the 16th to win the match, Willett had a 15-foot birdie putt, and the crowd erupted when it dropped into the cup.
“It means a lot,” Willett said. “It’s definitely just a lot of self-belief in there. I’ve had some tough past couple years with just golf, and I always personally thought I could do it, and then I did it this week, which was awesome. It really was a dream come true.”
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JUNE 6, 2022
One of the main questions in local circles leading up to the U.S. Open is would there be a local player to root for? Ten days before the first round was played, it turned out the answer was no…there’d be two. Wellesley’s Michael Thorbjornsen (Wellesley Country Club), a 20-year-old rising junior at Stanford University, and Fran Quinn (Worcester Country Club), a 57-year-old PGA Tour Champions professional from Holden, prevailed in an 8-person playoff at the 36-hole U.S. Open Final Qualifier at Old Oaks Country Club and Century Country Club in New York. Quinn and Thorbjornsen both shot 2-under through 36 and made birdie on the second playoff hole (par-5, 18th at Old Oaks) as each guaranteed one of the five spots for the U.S. Open available in the qualifier. For Quinn, it marked 30 years since his first appearance in 1992, while it was Thorbjornsen’s debut.
“To be able to play at home is a dream,” Quinn told Golf Channel after the round. “It was a long day, but it was definitely rewarding.”
While neither player made the cut in the championship proper, both received a warm reception throughout the week. What’s more, after finishing his second round with four birdies over his final seven holes, Thorbjornsen took that momentum into the Traveler’s Championship and finished fourth overall at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut.
One final walk up the 18th of a #USOpen.
Hats off to you, Fran Quinn. pic.twitter.com/PLqEEmGheT
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) June 18, 2022
JUNE 20-22, 2022
Unstoppable. Decisive. Dominant. All those words could be used to describe Morgan Smith’s victory in the New England Women’s Amateur at Country Club of Vermont. Smith (Vesper Country Club), who has since verbally committed to Georgetown University, finished 7-under 209 becoming the first junior golfer to win the event since 2003. Smith’s Day 3 performance was highlighted by a string of three birdies on the front nine — capped off with an eagle on the par-4 7th hole — and two straight birdies on holes 17 and 18 to secure the win. “It’s my first ever pretty big tournament win so I’m really happy,” Smith said afterward.
AUGUST 9-13, 2022
Just weeks after winning her first New England Women’s Amateur title, Morgan Smith capped off her summer with one of her greatest victories to date. Earning the top seed through the 36-holes of stroke play, Smith reached the final match for the first time, going head-to-head with University of Virginia standout Rebecca Skoler (Pine Brook Country Club). Smith never led until the very end, trailing 2-down with three holes to go. But a series of gutsy shots helped her win the final three holes. That stretch included a near ace on the par-3 17th to tie the match and a clutch par on the 18th to capture the victory. The victory also came 50 years after another Westford native — World Golf Hall of Famer Pat Bradley — won the 1972 Mass Women’s Amateur. Smith also took home Mass Golf Girls’ Junior Player of the Year honors.
“I came out here and proved myself,” Smith said. “My parents are a big part of that. They pushed me to continue to believe in myself. Obviously Rebecca is a phenomenal golfer, and she led the match the whole day, so to be able to close it out, it’s just awesome.”
JULY 18-20, 2022
Not every iconic moment featured a victorious player. In fact, some of the best golf achievements have nothing to do with a score. This year, the USGA hosted the inaugural U.S. Adaptive Open at Pinehurst Resort. The lone Bay State resident to compete was Annie Hayes, a longtime member at Berkshire Hills Country Club. A retired librarian, Hayes used to participate in several outdoor pursuits, but at age 44 was in a mountain biking accident and was paralyzed from the waist down. Determined to still compete in something, she turned to golf and was able to obtain a specialized chair that allowed her to play from a seated position. Hayes’ story was one of many inspirational tales told during the week of the event.
“I just love the game. I’m basically addicted to it,” said Hayes, who lives in the Berkshire County town of Lee. “It’s just one of those sports you can be independent and play.”
JULY 18, 2022
Wellesley native Aarav Lavu (MIAA) picked a heck of a time to shoot his first bogey-free round ever. Playing in the Massachusetts Young Golfers’ Amateur at Marion Golf Club, Lavu shot a spectacular 11-under 59, picking up 47 Stableford points for a 9-point margin of victory. In total, Lavu made 2 eagles, 7 birdies and 9 pars. “I played this event for the past three years, ever since I was 10 years old, and never won it. So this is a whole new experience for me. I’m extremely excited, because I’ve just a never been in this situation before,” said Lavu after his round.
A record breaking performance for Aarav Lavu. He shot a 59 en-route to a 9-point (stableford) victory at the 8th Young Golfers’ Amateur Championship Powered By KOHR Golf. #MassGolf pic.twitter.com/PkyPTegVVb
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) July 18, 2022
JUNE 1-2, 2022
Stacked with one of the most talented teams in the history of the event, Team Mass Golf won the Griscom Cup for the first time since 2019. Jennifer Keim (Bayberry Hills Golf Course) and Megan Buck (Thorny Lea Golf Club) set the pace on Day 1 at Longmeadow Country Club by winning their foursomes match, 3-0. On Day 2, Buck won her singles match 3-0, as did Molly Smith (Vesper Country Club) and Angela Garvin (The Ranch Golf Club). Overall, the Mass Golf team finished with 51 points. The Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association was second with 37.5 points, while the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia placed third with 19.5 points.
AUGUST 26-SEPTEMBER 1, 2022
With the U.S. Senior Amateur returning to the Bay State for the first time in more than a quarter-century, it was only fitting that Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough Country Club) got to hit the first tee shot from hole 1. The Massachusetts Golf Hall of Famer is the winningest amateur golfer in Mass Golf history, earning his 24th Mass Golf victory this year in the Mass Senior Amateur, and making more than 30 USGA Championship appearances. His performance also didn’t disappoint, as he and Eastward Ho! member Roger Hoit advanced to match play. Both players won their Round of 64 match, however, both were eliminated in the Round of 32. Vana also earned Mass Golf George M. Cohen Senior Player of the Year honors for the fifth time.
The winningest player in @PlayMassGolf history, Frank Vana, gets things going at Kittansett!
The 9x Mass Golf Player of the Year stripes the first ball in the 67th #USSeniorAmateur.
— USGA (@USGA) August 27, 2022
SEPTEMBER 9-14, 2022
Jake Shuman (Blue Hill Country Club) is one of a handful of Mass Golf Members to ever compete in a PGA Tour event. Since regaining his amateur status this year, he’s been fully engaged with the game. In the spring the former Duke University standout advanced to U.S. Open Final Qualifying, and in the fall got another chance to shine on the national stage. Playing in his first U.S. Mid-Amateur, Shuman started out with a 3-under 68 at Erin Hills and then followed it up with a bogey-free 4-under 66 at Blue Mount Golf & Country Club. His 7-under score put him in a tie with New Zealand’s Sam Jones for the best stroke play total. Shuman won his first match but was eliminated in the Round of 32.
MAY 9, 2022
Since being elevated to a championship in 2020, the Mixed Four-Ball championship has either been decided by one stroke or a playoff. With their title on the line, the father-daughter duo of Phil and Molly Smith (Vesper CC) found themselves in a three-way playoff with Tracy Martin (Vesper Country Club) & James Pleat (Granite Links Golf Club) and Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich Golf Club) & Pam Kuong (Charles River Country Club) at Andover Country Club. After tying the first playoff hole, all three teams moved to the 18th. Trying to clear the creek, Molly hit her drive out left, but was able to hit the green from 70 yards out on the approach and made a 15-footer to secure the title. The victory was also special as Andover Country Club was the site where Phil and his wife Lynn got married 20 years prior.
Visit MassGolf.org and follow @PlayMassGolf on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for the latest information on Mass Golf championships and events. To join the conversation, use the hashtag #MassGolf.