15-stroke winner Matt Parziale (MGA photo)
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — Heading into the final round of the 2015 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship with an 11-stroke lead, it was really a matter of how and not if Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) would capture his first individual MGA Championship title.
While the end result may not have been in question on day three, Parziale continued his magical week of play and claimed the Ted Bishop Cup as his own by posting a final score of 9-under par 204 at Marlborough Country Club.
“I have a blast competing with these guys,” said Parziale, who had a crew of friends and fellow competitors waiting to congratulate him at the scoring table. “That is the best part about this. We all love to compete. When you win it is a lot of fun, but you always know they are rooting for you and I am rooting for them as well.”
In what goes down in history as the largest margin of victory recorded for this event, Parziale finished 15 strokes ahead of second-place finishers Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough CC) and John Hadges (Thorny Lea GC). The previous record was 12 strokes set by Brian Higgins in 2009 at Haverhill Country Club.
“I really didn’t think about it until yesterday,” said Parziale, who capped off his victory with a round of 1-under par 70 on Thursday. “I played well all three days and was steady all around. It was fun to play, and it was fun to keep it going.”
His road to victory was marked by surgeon-like execution on a Marlborough track that features some of the fastest and most challenging greens in the state. Through 54 holes, Parziale carded nine birdies, 41 pars, three bogies and a double eagle.
He was not only the lone player to post three straight under par rounds, but he was also the only one to post a single under-par round through three days of competition.
“I have been playing well pretty much all year round,” said Parziale. “I have had a few bad rounds here and there, but this was probably the best three straight rounds I have played all year. I just kept it out of trouble all week and putted well and that was the key here.”
Parziale, the reigning Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year, has enjoyed much success on the amateur circuit. He captured the 2009 New England Amateur Championship and then spent three years pursuing a professional career.
He retained his amateur status in 2013 and has since captured numerous regional event titles, finished T2 (and low amateur) at the 2014 Massachusetts Open Championship, represented Team Massachusetts at the 2014 USGA Men’s State Team Championship and won the MGA’s Player of the Year honor in 2014.
The one thing missing from his golf resume was an MGA championship title, but he made sure this week that he accomplished his goal.
“It feels good,” said Parziale. “It just felt solid coming off the putter all week and you can’t ask for much more.”
On the final day, Parziale made sure that any comeback attempt would be futile. Hadges – a two-time winner of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship – posted a 2-over par 73 to finish T2 with Vana. Both players posted three-round scores of 6-over par 219.
For Vana, this week represented a homecoming at a club he has called home since he was in seventh grade.
“It was a special experience to play in an MGA event here at Marlborough,” said Vana. “My hat goes off to Matt. He played incredible all three days and should be very proud of what he was able to accomplish this week.”
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