FITCHBURG, Mass. — Nick McLaughlin (Far Corner GC) always stands tall, but on this day at Oak Hill County Club he stood above the rest.
Under perfect conditions, the soon-to-be senior at the University of Virginia who stands 6 feet and six inches tall delivered a masterful performance to capture the 107th Massachusetts Amateur Championship with a 4 and 3 victory over Patrick Frodigh (Dedham C&PC).
From Monday through Friday afternoon, McLaughlin was simply untouchable. He earned stroke-play medalist honors by four strokes over a field of 144 competitors and then methodically worked his way through the match-play bracket as the top seed.
“I am very excited,” said McLaughlin. “In a little while I think that I will realize what a a great week it has been to be medalist and to win all of my matches without even going to 18. It has been just an awesome week.”
It marks his third career MGA Championship title as he won the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship in 2009 and 2011. He becomes the 74th individual to win The Massachusetts Cup.
“For me this is very special,” said McLaughlin. “I have been playing in MGA events for so many years. I won the junior a couple of times, so to graduate to the Amateur is special.”
After advancing to Friday’s final match – which included impressive victories over Kip Webber (Granite Links GC), reigning Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC), Steven Burak (Thorny Lea GC) and Peter French (Maplegate CC) – McLaughlin faced a formidable foe in Frodigh.
Much like McLaughlin, Frodigh is a tall (he is 6-foot-5) former Massachusetts Junior Amateur Champion (he won that title in 2012) who is a collegiate player at the University of Louisville.
The highly anticipated Atlantic Athletic Conference (ACC) matchup did not disappoint. Neither player was able to earn more than a 2-up advantage through the first 18 holes. At the midday break, the match was all square.
It was during the lunch break when McLaughlin made a strategic move. After carrying his own bag for the first four and a half days, he asked his father Bill to give him a hand.
“I was dragging a little bit up those last few holes and made some tired swings on 16 and 18 the first time around,” said McLaughlin, who walked approximately 45 miles on the golf course this week. “I asked him when we were eating lunch and said that I think I need someone to take the weight off my shoulders and he was great. That definitely gave me a little bit more energy for the afternoon session.”
During the afternoon round, McLaughlin was near perfect. He played 2-under par golf and seemingly hit every fairway and every green to place the pressure directly on Frodigh.
“The first 18 was awesome and we were even going into lunch and I was happy with how I played,” said Frodigh. “I came out on the front nine a little flat and that set the tone for the second round which wasn’t my best. Nick played phenomenally and hats off to him. He is a great player and has a bright future.”
McLaughlin grabbed hold of the lead for good on the 23rd, par-3 hole where he found the middle of the green. Frodigh, who put on a short-game show all afternoon, was unable to get this one up and down from the back fringe. On the very next hole, Frodigh’s approach from the right rough missed the green and he would go 2 down.
A bit of misfortune befell Frodigh on the 27th hole. With McLaughlin in the left fairway bunker, Frodigh walked to his perfect drive to find it sitting in a fairway divot. He wasn’t able to win that hole. The players halved hole 27 with pars.
McLaughlin would win the next hole with a two-putt birdie. He went 4-up through 29 holes when Frodigh missed the green and could not get up and down. Frodigh’s last breath came on the 30th hole where he sunk a 23-foot birdie putt. He missed the next green but blasted the bunker shot of the day to inches.
“I hit one of my best shots of the day to 8 to 10 feet and for him to splash that out to gimmie range was huge,” said McLaughlin. “I would have liked to have gotten one more there and then I missed my putt. I don’t think he had his best ball striking stuff today but his short game was definitely solid the whole time and kept him in it.”
McLaughlin closed out the match with a conceded par on the 33rd hole for a 4 and 3 victory.
“Match play is funny because it’s hard to celebrate a conceded putt as I am picking up my ball marker,” said McLaughlin. “But I am very excited.”
And the view from his perch never looked better.
View results for Massachusetts Amateur Golf Championship