If the long-term goal for the Hornblower Memorial is to become one of the country's finest amateur events, consider this year -- the 50th annual -- a big step in the right direction.
Chock full with 159 players, the 2014 Hornblower Memorial kicks off Friday from Plymouth Country Club in Plymouth, Mass. with perhaps its best field ever.
"We turned away zero handicaps and plus-ones," said Tournament Director Mike Ellis. "It keeps getting stronger and stronger each year."
Played on the par-69 Donald Ross design, the Hornblower annually attracts the top competitive amateurs throughout New England. In recent years, that reach has expanded. This year will be the first for the event's new Senior Championship. Held in August, the event provides senior players a more equitable playing field while allowing for the strengthening of the championship field.
Defending champion John Hadges will face a number of competitors worthy of the title this weekend. Chief among them is former champion Matt Parziale, who returns to the field with his amateur status back after a career as a professional.
Parziale will be paired in Friday's first round with nine-time Massachusetts Golf Association Player of the Year Frank Vana, who has yet to claim the Hornblower among his many victories in New England and beyond.
Jack Whelan, the 2012 Ouimet Memorial champion, will play alongside longtime Mass. mid-am and senior favorite Jack Kearney.
Joining Whelan among the collegiate-aged contenders is Old Dominion's Jamison Randall, a Rhode Island native, Billy Walthous, a URI freshman and Longmeadow, Mass. native, Wake Forest's Ben Balter -- a Wellesley, Mass. native -- and Mickey Werenski, a former IJGT National Champion and current Texas A&M goler from South Hadley, Mass.
Former MGA champion Brian Higgins, U.S. Amateur qualifier Herbie Aikens, and former Hornblower winner Peter Alminas are among the mid-amateur contenders this weekend at PCC.
AmateurGolf.com will have full coverage of the 36-hole stroke-play championship, beginning on Friday. For a full look at Round 1 pairings, follow the results link below.
View results for Hornblower Memorial Invitational Golf Tournament