Haverhill, MA — Known for its tree-lined fairways and sloping greens, Haverhill Country Club did not disappoint as it proved to be a formidable challenge for the 120 competitors vying for the 2013 Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship.
Following the first of two rounds of play in Haverhill on Tuesday, the low score in the clubhouse was an even par 70 posted by Jack Kearney (Elmcrest CC), Jay Farabaugh (Stow Acres CC) and Patrick Kline (Sandy Burr CC).
For Kearney, who won this event in 2010, it is a welcome return to the top of the leaderboard after he has finished T4 (2012) and 9th (2011) since his victorious performance.
“It’s nice to already have won before so you don’t feel as much pressure,” said Kearney, who was also named the George M. Cohen MGA Senior Player of the Year in 2010. “I feel comfortable being out here and in contention heading into the final round.”
Kearney looked to be in control early on as he drained 10-foot birdie putts on the 356-yard, par 4 2nd and 401-yard, par 3 3rd holes. He was 2-under par through four holes, but he would stumble to the turn as he made four bogies - on the 4th, 5th, 8th and 9th holes - to make the turn at 2-over par 37.
“I made those 10 footers and then had a couple of bad three putts,” said Kearney. “I was playing with Brian Secia who was 1 under on the front so I felt like I was being lapped at that point.”
Kearney found a way to right the ship on the back nine. He began by recovering from a wayward drive on the 11th hole to make par. He chipped to three feet on the 481-yard, par 5 14th hole and then drained a 35-foot birdie putt on the 293, par-4 14th hole to draw even.
“Eighteen pars would be a great score on this course,” said Kearney. “You really need to stay below the pin to be successful. I almost three putted the last hole when I was above the hole so you need to be careful.”
Farabaugh had a similar up-and-down round as he made the turn at even par 35 but then found himself 2-over par through 15 holes after he made bogey on the 4th, 5th and 6th holes. He finished the round strong by making birdie on the 185-yard, par 3 7th and 392-yard, par 4 9th holes.
Kline was 2-under par through 14 holes before making bogey on the 6th and 7th holes. He made key pars on the 8th and 9th hole to secure his spot in the final group.
For the first time in event history, a cut was established after the first round of play. The starting field of 120 competitors was reduced to 71. The cut line fell at 9-over par 79.
Super Senior Status
The Super Senior Division title will come down to the wire as six competitors are within three strokes of each other following the first round of play.
John Crook (Cape Cod National) currently holds a one-stroke lead after posting a 4-over par 74. He is followed closely by Jim Holbrook (Ferncroft CC), Robert Currey (Brae Burn CC) and David Pomarico (South Shore CC) who posted scores of 5-over par 75.
One competitor who proved that he can “go low” is Pomarico. The 68-year-old Pomarico made the turn with a 3-under par 32 on a front nine where he made birdies on the 4th, 6th, 8th and 9th holes.
Two-time and defending divisional champion Dave Houghton (Captains GC) posted a 7-over par 77. One year ago, Houghton claimed this title by seven strokes. The year before, we won by an eight-stroke margin.
The Super Senior Division is comprised of players who have reached their 65th birthday by September 10, 2013.
Bob Bradley Battles Melanoma... and Wins
If you wanted to find Bob Bradley (Ponkapoag GC), everyone knew to look on the golf course. A longtime MGA competitor and former MGA Champion, Bradley’s love for the game of golf is legendary as he has been known to play an average of 36 holes per day at his home club of Ponkapoag Golf Course.
This year, however, Bradley was noticeably absent from the links and he would like everyone to know why.
Back in January, Bradley was spending time in Florida when his wife suggested that he have a mole on his leg examined.
“She saved my life,” said Bradley, who is a two-time Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Champion (1989, 1996) and two-time winner (1985, 1988) of the Ouimet Invitational. “I wouldn’t have done anything because it was no bigger than my fingernail.”
Bradley is referring to what was found to be melanoma on his right leg. Bradley underwent a first surgery to remove the melanoma. He then returned for a second surgery one month later to have all 14 lymph nodes in his right side removed.
“What happens is that [the cancer cells] go to the nearest set of lymph nodes from the melanoma,” explained Bradley. “Once it gets into the lymph nodes you are dead because the lymph nodes right away catch it and throw it out to the brain, heart and lungs.”
It took nearly two weeks for Bradley to receive news on his test results. It was no doubt a harrowing experience, and Bradley won’t soon forget that day.
“[The surgeon] walked into the room and said that they knew they got it out of my leg and that there were 50 cancer cells that were literally knocking on the door of my lymph nodes,” said Bradley, who had his surgeries performed at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. “But since the lymph nodes were out, the cancer cells would just stay there and not leave. It didn’t get into the lymph nodes so she said that it looked like they got it just in time and by the skin of my teeth.”
Since that time, Bradley has been slowly trying to get back into golf and into his old routine.
“I had my first operation in February and the second in the middle of March, but I have been laid up ever since,” said Bradley. “This is my first real tournament.”
Bradley may not have been pleased with his final score on Tuesday, but he finished as a champion to so many who have been supporting him during what has been a courageous fight against melanoma that – according to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – accounts for only 4 to 5 percent of skin cancer cases but is responsible for most skin cancer-related deaths
“I remember when the MGA gave out the little bottles of sunscreen on the tee and people didn’t even pay attention,” said Bradley. “I was the worst one of all, but now they have spray-on bottles and there is no excuse. I am not sure if this melanoma had anything to do with the sun, but I know that it’s hereditary and all of my kids get checked all of the time.”
According to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute web site (www.dana-farber.org), melanoma is often curable when detected and treated in its earliest stages, but everyone should be on the lookout for changes in moles and other blemishes that can be an early sign of the disease.
“Everyone needs to get checked at least once a year,” said Bradley. “You just don’t know what you are looking at. Even the littlest thing like a mole could be something. Just look what happened to me.”
Now wearing pants to hide his scars, Bradley has returned to the golf course and hopes to get back to what had been his normal schedule. Little does he know that his courageous battle and his willingness to speak publicly about his experience has made his legend even that much greater in the eyes of his peers.
View results for Massachusetts Senior Amateur Golf Championship