Hopkinton, MA (May 2, 2016) - Smith and Scott matched the score of Herbie Aikens (Pinehills GC) & Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC), Jeremy Meade (Nashawtuc CC) & Dan Cappucci (Boston GC) and David Pierce (CC of Halifax) & David Pierce, Jr. (CC of Halifax).
All three teams competed at Hopkinton Country Club and finished with scores of 5-under par 66 through the first 18 holes of this 36-hole competition, which is being held at Framingham Country Club and Hopkinton Country Club.
Posting a leading score was an especially remarkable feat on Monday given the challenging conditions which brought periods of heavy rain and cool temperatures throughout the day. Both groups were part of a morning wave of teams that were caught on the course during the heaviest bands of weather.
“It was tough out there,” said Scott, who is playing in this event for the fourth time with Smith. “It was not just the rain but it was cold more than anything. We played well. I made four birdies and he made three birdies, and we didn’t birdie the same hole. We just kept grinding out there.”
The heaviest rains of the day came when Smith and Scott were 4-under par with two holes to go. Hoping to make two pars and call it a day, they were given a gift by Mother Nature.
After Smith found the green on the 509-yard, par 5 7th hole with his second shot to set up a two-putt birdie, Scott polished off his third birdie of the day by hitting it close on the 158-yard, par 3 8th hole.
Scott’s drive on his final hole found a divot which led to his approach shot landing short and right of the green. He chipped onto the green and was six feet from the hole and inside Smith’s putting line.
Smith putted first and nearly made his birdie attempt. However, the damp conditions preserved the path of Smith’s ball and served as a landing pattern for Scott who stepped up and drained his putt for birdie.
“It was definitely coming down as hard as it had been all day,” said Scott. “We have had some good rounds together in the past, but today we just worked together well. We were able to talk over shots but still play our own games and ground out some pars. We also took our shots where we could and were able to make a few of them.”
Before the deluge which caused a brief suspension of play at both courses just before 1:00 p.m., Smith and Scott made the turn at 2-under par following a strong start on the Hopkinton back nine.
“We were definitely very happy and made a couple good par saves and a couple of birdies today,” said Smith. “It’s early in the year, but it worked out well today so hopefully we can have another good day tomorrow.”
For Scott, the four-ball format was also a welcome asset on such a cool May day.
“It is a great event for this time of the year when you are coming off the winter break,” said Scott. “It’s nice because you have a partner, so if you have a bad shot you don’t have to worry as much about the next. It’s fun to play with another guy and be able to root for each other.”
For a third straight season, Aikens and Parziale joined forces and are in contention heading into the final round of the MGA Four-Ball Championship. The duo made the turn – after starting the round on the Hopkinton back nine – at 1-under par 34 before saving their strongest play for the home stretch.
“We were on the 6th hole [when play was suspended] and had hit our approaches,” said Aikens, who said that they were able to view the leaderboard during the weather delay. “It was nice to know that five was in the lead. When were out there we didn’t know where everyone stood. All we knew was that it was playing hard it was so cold and raining hard.”
Showing true champion form (the pair have combined for three individual MGA titles) following the delay, Parziale first drained an eight-foot curling birdie putt on the 8th hole. Aikens then followed up with a 12-foot birdie putt on the pair’s final hole of the day.
“We kept trying to plug along,” said Parziale. “We never say numbers but looking back we played a solid round today so no complaints.”
Parziale - the 2014 Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year and the 2015 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Champion - is off to another strong start to the season. He joined forces with Ray Richard (Willowbend) last month to win the Seagulls Four-Ball title at Hyannisport Club.
Although just 35 years old, Meade and Cappucci have a veteran-like comfort level with each other on the course. That chemistry was on full display when the longtime friends who first met at Nashawtuc Country Club nearly 10 years ago carded a 5-under par 66 to grab a share of the overall lead. Making birdie on four of their last five holes helped their cause.
“We played the first three holes in the pouring rain before the delay,” said Cappucci. “We were able to hang in there and get through that in 1 under with a birdie on the third hole before we got called in. After that we missed more opportunities than anything else and then finished with a flurry.”
They made the turn at 2-under par 34 and were 1-over par through the next five holes. It was then when a decent round turned great.
Meade made back-to-back 15 foot putts for birdie – on the 14th and 15th holes – and then Cappucci made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole.
"The greens were in perfect shape," and Meade. "They are the fastest greens that we have seen all season. The greens have a lot of break, but they are putting really true."
Meade kept the momentum going by making a “10 plus foot” par putt on the 17th hole before Cappucci capped off the round by sinking a 25 footer on the 18th hole.
"We consider ourselves mudders," said Cappucci. "We are more comfortable grinding it out and trying to hit greens to make pars rather than trying to shoot 62... we tend to do better when the scoring is a little tougher."
The Pierce due was not going to let weather or even a pesky bogey get in the way of a good round. After all, the father and son team was 6-under par through 15 holes and had just made birdie on three of their last four holes. Things were looking good… very good.
It was at that moment when they were in sole possession of the lead when they suffered their first miscue of the day – a bogey on what was the shortest par-4 on the course - the 127-yard, par 3 16th hole.
With temperatures still hovering in the 40s and darkness threatening, the Pierce team could have easily let a few shots slip down the stretch but they managed to keep calm and carry on.
“We played really well,” said David, Jr. “The two of us together were probably even par on our own ball. We both hit a lot of fairways and greens. We didn’t play cautious at all. We just said, ‘Let’s go. Let’s stay aggressive and keep the pedal to the metal’. We didn’t want to take any holes off, and we wanted to make some birdies.”
David noted that when they arrived at the first tee they were told that play was going to be suspended.
“We got the luck of having to start after the delay,” said David. “Sometimes when you get off to a good start it helps, and we got off to a good start today.”
David led the charge early by making birdie on the 2nd and 3rd holes with iron approaches that fell within 12 feet. They were 3-under par at the turn.
“We got the two birdies early and then David took over,” said David. “We had two balls on the green all day long. We were watching other players have to get up and down and that takes a toll on you over the course of a round.”
David, Jr. is also quick to give his father much of the credit.
“My father is so steady which allows me to stay a lot more loose,” said David, Jr. “We make a good team and it’s fun to play together.”
Regardless of what happens tomorrow, both are enjoying the experience.
“I feel in the past he really knows how to play and has learned his lessons well,” said David. “He is really aggressive but now knows how to pull it back a little. He has become a really smart golfer, and it’s a real huge pleasure to play with him. It is just a lot of fun.”
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