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Weather delays at Massachusetts Amateur
Norton, Mass. (July 16, 2014) — For the first two days of competition, the 106th Massachusetts Amateur Championship was played in what seemed to be a magical bubble of good weather.

That bubble burst on Wednesday afternoon at Kernwood Country Club when the first full day of matches ended with rain and a second and final suspension of play at 3:15 p.m.

Two rounds of matches were scheduled, but by 4:40 p.m. when officials officially suspended play for the day, there was one round of 32 match still on the course and two of the round of 16 matches had yet to begin.

In fact, the first round of 16 match which featured Christopher Gentle (Mount Pleasant GC) and John Kelly (Twin Hills CC) was through 12 holes when play was suspended due to heavy rains and eventually a lightning threat.

“We were fortunate to get two days of stroke play completed and most of our round of 32 matches done today,” said Kevin Eldridge, the MGA’s director of rules & competition. “The course received nearly two inches of water and the decision was made to suspend play and resume on Thursday morning.”

Such a delay is nothing new for this event, at least in recent memory. Just last year, play was suspended on day three while all round of 16 matches were still on the course.

On what was deemed a marathon Thursday in 2013, the competition got back on schedule with some competitors – including finalist Ian Thimble – playing 46 holes on just that one day. The final 36-hole match was contested – as scheduled – on Friday.

The difference this year, however, is that play was suspended earlier in the day on Wednesday. As a result, the MGA and the Kernwood Country Club officials made the decision to complete rounds through the quarterfinals on Thursday. The semifinals will be contested on Friday beginning at 8:00 a.m. The final 36-hole match will be held at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday morning with the second 18 holes to begin no later than 11:30 a.m.

“We are expecting favorable weather conditions throughout the rest of week,” said Eldridge. “We can’t say enough about the staff and membership here at Kernwood. They have gone above and beyond to prepare the golf course and accommodate the competitors and spectators during these delays.”

Before the weather stole the show, there was some exciting action on the golf course. Summaries for all but one of the round of 32 matches are available below, but here are some highlights:

* For a second straight year, the stroke-play medalist was defeated by the No. 32 seed. Anthony Vecchiarelli (Crestview CC), who was the lone competitor to card two under-par rounds during the stroke-play portion of the event, fell to Christopher Gentle (Mount Pleasant GC) by a score of 2 and 1.

* The round of 32 saw three former champions fall. John Hadges (Thorny Lea GC) - winner in 2008 and 2010 - was defeated by reigning Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich GC) by a score of 2 and 1. Clapp closed out that match by making birdie on two of his final three holes. The 2009 champion of this event - Bill Drohen (Brookmeadow CC) - was ousted by 17-year-old Jason Short (Marlborough CC), and the 2006 champion - Ben Spitz (George Wright GC) - was defeated in 19 holes by Victor Galvani (Framingham CC).

* The average age of the round of 32 competitors is 26 years old. The average age of the starting field of 132 was 32. Of the four 17 year olds who made match play, three of them - Jackson Lang (Nashawtuc CC), Lucas Hicks (Thorny Lea GC) and Jason Short (Marlborough CC) - advanced to the round of 16.

* The last time that a Massachusetts Amateur Championship extended past its traditional Friday end date was in 2006 when Ben Spitz captured the title at Worcester Country Club on a Saturday. Much like this year, weather was the culprit as heavy rains made the course unplayable and caused several suspensions of play.

* Drainage at Kernwood Country Club was an issue towards the end of the day for a very unique reason. Because it is surrounded by water - the Danvers River and Atlantic Ocean - the course has no place to drain during high tide (which was 3:11 p.m. on Wednesday). As a result, the heavy rain that fell during that time pooled in the bunkers and on the low-lying areas of the course. Play was officially suspended at 3:30 p.m. In total, the course received 1.77 inches of rain on Wednesday.

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