DEVENS, Mass. — It wasn’t his easiest win, but it was no doubt the sweetest.
In front of a gallery looking on from above at Red Tail Golf Club, Nick McLaughlin (Far Corner GC) tapped in his par putt on the 18th green, congratulated his playing partners and then enjoyed a special hug with his father Bill.
He had just won the 2015 Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship. He also became the first golfer in Bay State history to win that title as well as the Massachusetts Amateur and New England Amateur Championships... all in the same calendar year.
“What a summer,” said McLaughlin, who will depart for his senior year at the University of Virginia in just a couple of weeks. “It’s tough to be done with playing up here because I have had such a great run, but on the other hand I am definitely looking forward to taking a little bit of a break. I was happy that I won on 18 because I don’t think that I had 19 in me.”
Dating back to May, McLaughlin has won a total of five major events – Hornblower Memorial Invitational (May), The Invitational (June), Massachusetts Amateur Championship (July), New England Amateur Championship (July) and Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship (August). It is a mark that has never been equaled.
“I have been playing in these MGA events forever, and to have one of the better summers in probably the recent past is very special,” said McLaughlin. “I was playing well but you need some good things to happen to you in order to win any tournament let alone five this summer.”
One year ago, McLaughlin was planning the same journey back to Virginia but his emotions were at a much different place. After all, the summer of 2014 was marred by a back injury that lingered throughout his fall golf season with the Cavaliers. He made the tough decision to skip his spring collegiate season and focus on rehabilitation.
“Five in less than three months is a little crazy especially looking back where I was a year ago,” said McLaughlin. “To come back this summer was great, and I just seemed to keep on rolling.”
The toughest win was probably his last as McLaughlin battled through his final 18 holes at Red Tail Golf Club and needed a 1-over par 73 to capture his latest title by one stroke over Matt Cowgill (Wayland CC).
He began his final round on Wednesday with a double bogey on the 410-yard, par 4 1st hole, was able to battle back to even par at the turn but then suffered two bogies through his first five holes on the back nine.
“I didn’t feel good with my swing at all today,” said McLaughlin. “Things just felt a little out of sync, but fortunately I played here enough to know where to miss it so I was able to control my misses, and I changed a couple of clubs off the tee.”
McLaughlin played his first major event of his career in Devens back in 2005 when the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship was contested here at Red Tail Golf Club.
He harkened back to his play then for sure when he decided to club down as he approached the 10th hole.
“That is a good example and that was probably the tournament right there,” said McLaughlin. “I have been hitting driver there, but I had been hitting everything right and I knew that there was OB there. So I took out 4 iron just to get it into play. I hit that right because I knew that if I clubbed down it would still be in play. It was a little bit of knowing where to hit it and changing my plans a little bit. Ultimately no matter how bad it feels you have to commit and make as good of a swing as you can.”
McLaughlin came up with the shots when he needed them. He first made a perfect chip to four feet on the 17th green for birdie and then lofted a wedge shot to 20 feet on the 18th hole. He needed to just two putt for his fifth and final historic win of the season.
“Obviously 18 is no bargain of a wedge shot,” said McLaughlin. “It was one of those that never left the pin but came up short, but when all you need is five that was a good way to end.”
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