OSTERVILLE, Mass. — The love affair between Dave Houghton (Captains GC – MA) and Oyster Harbors Club continued on Tuesday as the 71 year old fired a 3-under par 69 to take a two-stroke lead following the first round of the 2015 New England Senior Amateur Championship.
The annual New England Golf Association (NEGA) event is being held in Massachusetts this year and Houghton, who resides in nearby Brewster, is taking full advantage of the opportunity with a stellar round that featured two eagles, two birdies and three bogies.
“The course fits my eye pretty good I guess,” said Houghton. “I was hitting the ball really well and hitting it solid for most off the time, which has been a change this season. I don’t feel like I have been playing real well lately, so I was able to turn it around today.”
One year ago, Houghton put on an equally impressive performance at this same site in Osterville en route to winning the 2014 Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship. There is no question that he was looking forward to this week’s return engagement.
“I hit some good shots and didn’t get a lot out of them,” said Houghton. “I would find the greens and they would escape off and I know the course well enough that it’s a Donald Ross and you can’t go over. It happened three times and I made three bogies as a result, but it’s golf so what are you going to do.”
Houghton’s miscues on the day were overshadowed by his great plays including the eagles he scored on the 491-yard, par 5 2nd and 457-yard, par 5 16th holes.
On his second hole of the day, Houghton sank a 20-foot bunker shot. Later in the round he missed the green with his 7-iron approach on the 16th hole but then watched as his chip shot found the bottom of the hole.
“A couple of things went in the hole for me today,” said Houghton. “Getting the two eagles without having to use my putter was a real boost.”
When each competitor arrived at the starter’s tent, they were informed that there was a potential weather issue pending for Wednesday. As a result, the schedule of events – which originally called for 36 holes over two days for the entire field – would be altered. The field would be reduced to low 40 scorers and ties after 18 holes. Only those competitors would return to Oyster Harbors Club on Wednesday to take part in a final 18 holes… weather permitting.
“I just put my mind to it to go out there and try to do the best that I could,” said Houghton. “I got some good breaks, and it just worked out well.”
Perhaps even more stirring than shooting three strokes under his age was the fact that Houghton stands atop a field of the region’s best senior amateur players.
“This is special to do this against all these fine players out there,” said Houghton when asked about the significance of shooting better than his age. “You have guys out here from Massachusetts who have won the Senior and Super Senior titles and then you have all of the guys from the rest of New England. It is really special to be in front right now.”
To Houghton’s point, he currently holds that two-stroke lead over Bill Hermanson (Black Hall Club – CT), who is coming off a victory at last week’s Connecticut Senior Amateur Championship which was his third CSGA title of the season.
Hermanson was the only other competitor to post a score under par on Tuesday in Osterville. He finished with a score of 1-under par 71, which was a round that featured four birdies (including two through his final three holes of the day) and three bogies. In addition to winning 12 CSGA championships over the course of his career, he is also a 2012 Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame inductee.
The only other CSGA golfer to win more overall titles than Hermanson is Dave Szewczul (Tunxis Plantation CC – CT), who currently stands T3 overall with a score of even par 72.
Szewczul traveled to Osterville on Monday from Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey where he had advanced to match play at the 2015 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship. Szewczul finished T24 following stroke play at that USGA Championship Proper but was defeated in the Round of 64.
His game was still sharp on Tuesday, however, as Szewczul battled back from two double bogies to finish at even par. He is currently tied with Keith Smith (Franklin CC – MA), the 2013 Massachusetts Senior Amateur Champion.
Following the conclusion of the first round of play at Oyster Harbors Club, the starting field was reduced to the low 40 scorers. The cut line fell at 5-over par 77.
View results for New England Senior Amateur Golf Championship