LONGMEADOW, Mass. — What began as a group of more than 140 potential champions in Longmeadow has been reduced to 32 following two rounds of stroke play held on Monday and Tuesday.
Only those competitors will return to Longmeadow Country Club to take part in match play at the 105th Massachusetts Amateur Championship.
This year's cut line fell at 8-over par 148 with the final five spots being decided in an exciting seven-for-five sudden-death playoff on Tuesday evening.
Weather permitting, the first two rounds of match play - round of 32 and round of 16 - will be contested on Wednesday in Longmeadow. The quarterfinals and semifinals will take place on Thursday with the finale coming on Friday when the last two competitors standing will compete in a 36-hole final match.
“We were expecting inclement weather on both days, so we feel fortunate to be on schedule heading into a very busy first day of match play,” said Jesse Menachem, the MGA’s Director of Rules & Competition. “We plan to start the round of 32 matches at 7:30 a.m. to maximize our chances of getting through the round of 16 on Wednesday.”
Leading the charge and sharing medalist honors with scores of 1-under par 139 were Andy Drohen (The Ranch GC) and Colin Brennan (Indian Ridge CC).
Both competitors bring impressive resumes to match play. Drohen was the 2003 Massachusetts Amateur Champion, while Brennan has finished as medalist at this event three out of the last four years.
“I like stroke play in venues like this where you have to grind out good scores to stay in the mix,” said Brennan, who advanced to the quarterfinals in 2013. “It helps to have a round like yesterday to start. It made it a little less stressful starting today’s round.”
Brennan appeared to be in cruise control through his first 10 holes. He made the turn at even par. He hit a rough patch on the back nine, however, where he made bogey on the 11th, 12th and 13th holes.
“The start of the back nine was suspect,” said Brennan, who will be making his fifth career appearance in match play at this championship. “I made those three straight bogies and then I made a 10 footer for par on 14. After the putt on 14, I settled back down and started playing golf again.”
He went on to make birdie on his final three holes by hitting it to within five feet or less with his approach shots. He is hoping that the momentum from the end of Tuesday’s round will continue on into match play.
“It seems to all come down to putting,” said Brennan. “In all of the matches I have lost it has been where guys make more putts than I have. You want to hit it well, but you have to make key putts especially down the stretch.”
Drohen is another competitor looking to peak at the right time. Following a series of injuries and swing changes (since his 2003 Massachusetts Amateur Championship victory), Drohen has settled back into his winning ways.
He won his fourth career MGA Championship title last year at the 2012 Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship. It made him the only player in MGA history to have won all four major non-senior amateur MGA Championships.
“You certainly fall back on your experience and think about the fact that it’s just a game and you have already done it before,” said Drohen. “It helps a lot and helps the nerves a bit.”
Drohen will have to do his best to not look too far ahead. After all, he is scheduled to leave with his family for Virginia on Friday to prepare for the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, which he qualified for earlier this month.
Before that, he is looking forward to getting several matches under his belt here at Longmeadow Country Club, which is just 30 minutes from his home in Granville.
“It has been nice to sleep in my own bed for a major tournament,” said Drohen. “This is a great golf course and Rich Derby the superintendent has it in tremendous shape… It is a shot-maker’s course and you are not going to get lucky out there, you have to make good shots.”
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