Mass. Open: Am Woodbury in contention
AUBURNDALE, Mass. (June 12, 2013) -- Evan Harmeling (Andover CC) is doing his part to make sure that a Bay State native captures the Massachusetts Open Championship for the sixth time in eight years.

Harmeling, a 2012 Princeton University graduate who grew up in North Reading and now resides in Andover, posted a roller-coaster second round score of 2-under par 70, to put himself into contention for the title.

He currently stands atop the leaderboard – tied with Jason Caron (Stamford, CT) - at 5-under par 139 heading into the third round of play. Harmeling and Caron will tee off at 8:50 a.m. with Eric Dugas (Brewster, MA), who stands in second place with a score of 4-under par 140. All three professionals will enter the final round with hopes of capturing the winner’s check of $15,000.

“The Mass Open is the biggest state open by far,” said Harmeling, who is 24 years old. “When I talk to people from Florida when I am down there they all say that they probably won’t play in all of the state opens but they will definitely play in the Mass Open. And coming from Mass, I really want to win it for sure.”

After posting a 3-under par 69 round on Tuesday, Harmeling was feeling confident on the Woodland Golf Club layout especially since he played 3-under par golf through his final eight holes.

His early momentum did not continue right away on Wednesday as he made a double bogey on the 483-yard, par 5 11th hole – his second hole of the day. He responded well, however, by sinking a four-foot birdie putt on the 483-yard, par 5 12th hole.

“The wind was whipping early when I made that double,” said Harmeling. “But a highlight for me making that tough four footer on 12. I was reeling a bit and that was a good one to make.”

After he made another birdie on the 401-yard, par 4 14th hole, Harmeling chipped in from the greenside bunker – about 25 yards from the hole – for his second straight birdie which put him at 1-under for the day.

The round continued to have its share of ups and downs. He made bogey on the 18th hole, but then turned around and made birdie on the 1st and 2nd holes. On that 389-yard, par 4 2nd hole, Harmeling drained a 30-foot putt. He then made bogey on the 4th and 7th holes, but finished by making birdie on the 8th and 9th holes.

“It was a really up and down round,” said Harmeling, who thus far in the championship has made 12 birdies, 18 pars, five bogies and one double bogey. “It doesn’t really look like it, but I haven’t been making that many putts. I have just been hitting it really close which makes it a lot less stressful.”

This marks the third Massachusetts Open Championship appearance for Harmeling and his first as a professional golfer. If successful, this will also be Harmeling’s second MGA Championship as he captured the 2005 Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship at the age of 17.

“I am definitely feeling comfortable out there and feeling good about my game, so I am excited,” said Harmeling.

Looking to squelch Harmeling’s plans for his first major professional victory will be another Bay State product in Caron, who grew up on the Cape and now lives in Connecticut with his wife and young child. Caron backed up his first-round score of 4-under par 68 with a 1-under par 71 on Wednesday.

“I just try to hit the ball in the fairway and hit the greens and don’t try to do anything too crazy,” said Caron, who currently serves as a golf professional at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, New York.

Caron made the turn at 1-under par and then made birdie on the drivable 301-yard, par 4 1st hole where he drove the green and got up and down from the front bunker. He then sent his 9-iron approach to eight feet on the 389-yard, par 4 2nd hole.

“That was the closest shot that I hit all week,” said Caron.

Although he made two bogies down the stretch – on the 3rd and 7th holes – Caron still finds himself in the hunt and atop the leaderboard with 18 holes to go.

“This week I am just really hitting the ball in the fairway and hitting greens,” said Caron. “My chipping and bunker play and my putting has been good. I have only made three bogies and all of them have been three putts. My whole game this week has been pretty solid.”

ABOUT THE Massachusetts Open

54 hole stroke play championship open to professional golfers and amateur golfers with an active USGA GHIN Handicap Index not exceeding 2.4, or who have completed their handicap certification. Nonexempt players must pre-qualify.

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