20 Dec 2004

Norton, MA – Just when you think that Frank Vana, Jr. (Worcester, MA) can’t outdo himself, he sets the bar even higher for Massachusetts amateur golfers.

The 1990s MGA Player of the Decade was named the 2004 Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year this afternoon for a record fourth straight year and sixth time overall (1994-95, 2001-04). En route to his record-setting performance this year, Vana collected 1,250 points which represents the most points ever recorded by an amateur player in this state. The only other player to break the 1,000-point mark was Jim Salinetti, who posted 1,049 points in 2000.

Although he has won this award many times before, the 2004 season was especially momentous for Vana. After enjoying unparalleled success on the amateur scene for years, Vana captured the one MGA title that had eluded him – the Massachusetts Amateur Championship. The 13-time club champion at Marlborough Country Club defeated Mike Cole, 5 & 4, in the 36-hole final at Taconic Golf Club to lay claim to The Commonwealth Cup and place his name among great champions such as Francis Ouimet, Jesse Guilford and Fred Wright.

Months later, Vana advanced to the Round of 32 at the U.S. Amateur Championship where he was defeated in a tight match against young phenom Spencer Levin, 2 & 1. Capping off his spectacular season, Vana made noise on the professional golf circuit by qualifying for the 2004 Deutsche Bank Championship held at the TPC of Boston. He was the only amateur to qualify for that event.

"I can not remember a year when a golfer dominated the way that Frank Vana did this year," said Tom Landry, executive director of the MGA. "We are fortunate here in Massachusetts to have a player, who possesses not only great skill but also displays a superior level of sportsmanship and class represent us in New England and national events. It’s easy to see why he is such a special player."

With his victory at the 2004 Massachusetts Amateur Championship, Vana has now won a total of nine MGA Championships, and over the course of his career, he has participated in 23 USGA Championships. Other highlights from the 2004 season include qualifying for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, capturing low amateur honors at the Massachusetts Open and New England Open Championships and posting a victory at the 2004 Tarlow Invitational.

Christopher Cutler Rich MGA Junior Player of the Year – JON CURRAN: For the third straight year, Jon Curran (Hopkinton, MA) was named the Christopher Cutler Rich MGA Junior Player of the Year. Curran, a 2004 Rolex First Team All American who plays out of Framingham Country Club, enjoyed another outstanding junior amateur season highlighted by his semifinal performance at the 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. In addition, Curran was victorious at the Scott Robertson Memorial, AJGA Hartford Jaycees, Challenge Cup World Series of Golf and Challenge Cup Invitational. He was also low junior at the 2004 Francis Ouimet Memorial Tournament as well as the Tournament Players Championship.

George M. Cohen MGA Senior Player of the Year – JIM RUSCHIONI: Veteran Jim Ruschioni (Fitchburg, MA) has been eligible to compete in senior amateur events for two years, and for the second straight year he has been named the George M. Cohen MGA Senior Player of the Year. Ruschioni, who plays out of Oak Hill Country Club, captured the 2004 Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Championship in August with partner Paul Nunez, Jr. and then went on to advance to the Round of 32 at the U.S. Senior Championship. Ruschioni also earned bonus points for qualifying for match play at this year’s Massachusetts Amateur Championship and for making the cut at the Massachusetts Open Championship.

Vana, Curran and Ruschioni will be recognized as the 2004 MGA Players of the Year at the MGA’s annual Evening of Champions award ceremony which will take place at Wellesley Country Club on Thursday, January 6, 2004.

©2004 Massachusetts Golf Association.

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