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Quarterfinals Now Set for 108th Massachusetts Amateur Championship
Dan Cappucci is among eight remaining players at Massachusetts Amateur <br>(Photo Courtesy of Dave Colt)</br>
Dan Cappucci is among eight remaining players at Massachusetts Amateur
(Photo Courtesy of Dave Colt)
Williamstown, MA (July 13, 2016) -- The longest day in Massachusetts golf came and went on Wednesday.

The third day of competition at the 108th Massachusetts Amateur Championship featured two rounds of match play at Taconic Golf Club.

A total of 32 competitors completed 374 holes over a period of 10 hours. In the end, only eight remain alive in the Massachusetts Amateur bracket and will return on Thursday to compete in the quarterfinal matches set to begin at 8:00 a.m. in Williamstown.

The semifinal matches will be contested during the afternoon. The two finalists will then meet in a 36-hole final match on Friday morning to determine the champion.

Here are Thursday’s morning matchups.

8:00 a.m. – Jackson Lang (Nashawtuc CC) vs. Brendan Hunter (Red Tail GC)

8:10 a.m. – Alex Jeffers (Woodland GC) vs. Matthew Naumec (GreatHorse)

8:20 a.m. – Ryan Riley (Thorny Lea GC) vs. Dan Cappucci (Boston GC)

8:30 a.m. – Thomas Henderson) Sterling National) vs. John Kelly (Twin Hills CC)

Here is a summary on how each quarterfinalist found their way into the quarterfinals

Match #1 - Jackson Lang, Nashawtuc CC def. Jake Shuman, Blue Hill CC, 1 up

The day was long in hours but it seemed like a blur to Jackson Lang (Nashawtuc CC) when he stepped off the 18th green following his 2 and 1 victory over top- seeded Jake Shuman (Blue Hill CC), 1 up. Earlier in the day, Lang defeated the 2006 champion of this event, Ben Spitz (George Wright GC).

“I am tired but happy,” said Lang. “I played two really tough matches today against Ben and Jake. Both played really well so I feel lucky to have made it out.”

The 19-year-old Lang has not advanced to match play in three of the last four years. His best performance leading into this afternoon was the round of 16. He bettered that with his two wins and quarterfinal berth.

“My skills were really good today,” said Lang, the 2015-16 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year for Davidson College. “I was hitting it well and everything was good. I was playing against such good players that at times it didn’t feel that way. I felt like I had to stay patient and it was really hard work to stay in the matches.”

During his round of 16 match against Shuman, Lang fell behind for the first time – he was 1 down through three holes – but he used a stretch of golf where he made two pars and one birdie (on the 6th hole) to go 2 up. He held on to that advantage until Shuman made back-to-back birdies on the 11th and 12th holes to square the match.

Both players matched each other shot for shot until the 16th hole.

“It was pretty funny because on 16 we had to get a measurement two times because we were both the same distance away from the hole,” said Lang. “We both ended up having four foot tough putts. I ended up making mine and he missed his.”

The almost identical situation occurred on the very next hole. Once again, Lang was able to get up and down to save par while Shuman missed his par attempt.

“On this last hole we were both 10 feet from each other by the bunker,” said Lang “We ended up parting ways then but it was really tight the last few holes.”

Shuman sent his approach on that final hole right of the green. Although he made a tremendous third shot, he could only sit back and watch as Lang nestled his chip close to the hole. The 18th hole was halved and Lang was awarded the 1-up win.

“Jackson played great hats off to him,” said Shuman, who earlier in the day defeated Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich GC). “I am sure that I will probably look at it differently tomorrow than I will today, but I have played well. I think that I was 6 or 7 under for the week which is good. It’s just how match play goes. It wasn’t good enough to stay here tonight.”

Lang is coming off a stellar freshman season at Davidson where he appeared in all 10 events for the Wildcats as a freshman and finished fifth individually at the A-10 Championships.

“I think that I finally figured out how to stay patient and commit to every shot. It just happened that all of things I have been working on fell into place. I just need to keep on going.”

And his plan for the quarterfinals?

“Get some rest and do some more of the same and keep on rolling.”


Match #2 - Brendan Hunter, Red Tail GC def. Christopher Gentle, Mount Pleasant GC, 2 and 1

In likely the friendliest match of the entire tournament, Brendan Hunter (Red Tail GC) defeated friend and St. Thomas Aquinas teammate Christopher Gentle (Mount Pleasant GC) 2-and 1 to earn berth in the quarterfinals, scheduled to begin Thursday morning.

After his round of 32 match ended 7 and 6, Hunter’s match went just a tad longer as he and Gentle played 17 holes before a winner was declared. Hunter took the first stab at the lead by making birdie on the first hole, a 475-yard, par 5, but quickly saw the lead evaporate as a tough sixth hole for Hunter sent the match to all square.

Hunter said, “On the third hole, I hit it long left into the hazard and tried to hack it out and made six. I was 1-up before that and halved after that.”

He didn’t let his mistake get him down though, as he regained the lead for one hole on the sixth. Shortly thereafter, the match went back to all square and remained that way until the ninth hole, one of the course’s four par-3s, when Gentle made par to go 1 up.

On the ensuing hole, Hunter regained the lead by making birdie on the par-5 straightaway. He extended the lead on Hole 14 and carried that lead until the end to ensure the victory, 2 and 1.


Match #3 - Alex Jeffers, Woodland GC def. Alex Jamieson, Marshfield CC, 5 and 4

It may be his first appearance in match play, but Alex Jeffers (Woodland GC) is playing like he’s a regular.

The 30-year-old Jeffers delivered a come-from- behind victory against Tim Tunstall (Longmeadow CC) that went into extra holes and then turned in a strong 5 and 4 performance against Alex Jamieson (Marshfield CC) to advance to the quarterfinals.

“Excited and tired but good,” said Jeffers following his afternoon match. “It was a good day. It was a tough match this morning and this afternoon I played solid. It was a little bit less stressful. It was a great day, and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

For a short time it appeared that Jeffers run was going to end on this day. After all, he was 1 down to Tunstall heading to the 18th hole in a match where Tunstall was putting on a putting display. In fact, Tunstall began the match by one putting the first four holes.

The only key putt that Tunstall did miss on Wednesday was his birdie attempt on 18. That one miss opened the door for Jeffers, who made birdie on that hole to extend the match.

“Tim made everything he looked at,” said Jeffers. “The only putt he missed all day was on 18.”

On the first playoff hole, Jeffers still appeared to be in trouble after sending his approach over the 1st green.

“I caught a flier and hit it over the green which was not a good place to be in,” said Jeffers. “I got a good lie and then hit a good shot to about three feet and snuck the putt in.”

The afternoon match saw Jeffers take advantage of a tough start by Jamieson where he made bogey on three straight holes. Jeffers made birdie on the 9th and 10th holes and then closed out the match on the 14th hole for the 5&4 win.

“I got up early and wanted to hit fairways and greens and make him make birdies,” said Jeffers. “He made some but not enough so it was steady golf by me and I capitalized on some mistakes by him which gave me some breathing room.”

His next opponent is another youngest… Boston College rising sophomore, Matthew Naumec (GreatHorse).

“I am going to take my shoes off and get a cold beer,” said Jeffers. “I will then crank the AC and get some sleep.”


Match #4 - Matthew Naumec, GreatHorse def. Timothy Umphrey, Tatnuck CC, 2 and 1

Boston College freshman Matthew Naumec (GreatHorse) jumped out to an early lead and held onto that lead, despite a valiant effort down the stretch by Timothy Umphrey (Tatnuck CC), to win the match, 2 and 1.

“In the second round of match play, I played very solid. I didn’t bogey until the 13th hole. Tim played great! He birdied four in a row on holes 10-13. I was able to cover the first two. I was 4-up through 10 and I went down two and had an errant one on 13, but I was able to hold and play solid. I was very happy about it.”

With Umphrey itching at the lead as the round neared completion, Naumec made birdie on the 16th hole to push the lead back to 2 up.

He said, “I was able to hold onto it. I played great. I put my tee shots on the right side of the fairway and was able to give myself good looks.”

The match came to an end when both players made bogey shot on the par-3 17th hole, which allowed the Naumec to sneak away with the victory, 2 and 1.


Match #5 - Ryan Riley, Thorny Lea GC def. Peter French, Maplegate CC, 7 and 6

Maybe it’s the fresh mountain air or maybe Ryan Riley (Thorny Lea GC) is just ready to win another major championship.

The 2010 champion of this event – who captured his title six years ago at nearby Wyantenuck Country Club – survived a tough challenge in the round of 32 against 18-year-old Andrew Warfield (Marlborough CC) and then scored the upset of the week by defeating the stroke-play co-medalist – Peter French (Maplegate CC) – by a score of 7 and 6.

“I don’t get play nearly as much as I used to,” said Riley. “But if you can get a couple of rounds under your belt, you start to remember the good experiences and obviously I have had some success in this tournament in the past. I kept thinking to myself that I have done it before and to just play one hole at a time and one shot at a time.”

Riley appeared to be on his way to victory during his morning match against Warfield, but the youngster delivered one of the best shots of the day and then a clutch birdie to force extra holes.

“I thought that I had him when I was 1 up with two to go and he hit it long left on 17 which is the worst place on the golf course to be,” said Riley. “He got up and down and I was 15 feet for birdie and made par. Then he birdied 18.”

Riley did make birdie on that first playoff hole to set up a showdown with French, a semifinalist at this event in 2014. What was projected to be one of the tightest matches of the round of 16, however, turned into one of the shortest as Riley used a birdie barrage – five birdies in seven holes – to secure his spot in the quarterfinals.

“I don’t know,” said Riley when asked about his performance. “The only issue I had was on the 5th hole and then I came right back and knocked it to six feet on six, six feet on seven, made both of those and then knocked it to six feet on nine. I then knocked it to a foot on 10 so there are five birdies in seven holes. I just made pars coming in.

Riley continued, “It’s not like Peter played bad golf. He just didn’t make birdies, and I happened to so it was good. It was the first time that I made putts all week. It was nice to see the ball go into the hole.”


Match #6 - Cappucci, Boston GC def. Frank Vana, Jr., Marlborough CC, 4 and 3

Dan Cappucci (Boston GC) had a strong second-half performance in order to clinch his spot in the quarterfinals on Thursday morning.

On a “long, hot day,” Cappucci said it was a matter of the basics.

He said, “Both of my matches were very solid and it was just a matter of making pars.”

Making pars was key for Cappucci, who registered 10 on day three.

After the match was all square at the turn against Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough CC), Cappucci made birdie the 506-yard par-5 to go up 1 up. He extended the lead to 2 up on the following hole when he made par on the 11th.

On Holes No. 13 and 14, Cappucci carded back-to- back three’s to go 4-up and finished 4 & 3 over the former 9-time MGA Player of the Year.
Match #7 - Thomas Henderson, Sterling National def. Mark Turner, Bass Rocks GC, 3 and 2

Thomas Henderson (Sterling National), a rising junior at Old Dominion University, made birdie on the 480-yard, par-5 1st hole in the round of 16 and never saw his lead diminish, as he was victorious, 3 and 2, over Mark Turner (Bass Rocks GC).

“I played pretty solid," said Henderson. "I started out with a birdie on the first and made a few pars.”

Having made birdie on the the first hole in each of his previous three rounds, he once again used the first hole as a model for what he wanted to do the rest of the round.

The 22-year-old Henderson bounced between 1 up and 3 up in the first half of the round and carried that well into the back nine.

With a 2-up advantage through 11 holes, Henderson made birdie on the 377-yard par-4 12th hole to push the lead to 3 up, a lead that stayed put for the remainder of the round.

From 13 through 16, the two carded matching scores, allowing the Sterling native to win the match 3 and 2.


Match #8 - John Kelly, Twin Hills CC def. Kevin Gately, Harmon GC, 5 and 4

Forty-eight hours ago John Kelly (Twin Hills CC) had just signed a scorecard for a six-over par 78 and was not happy about his chances of reclaiming at title that he had won in 2014.

Over the next two days, Kelly changed his fortunes and turned what could have been a disappointing experience into what might be another magical week.

He first posted a day-two score of 3-under par 69 to earn a spot in the nine-for-six playoff. He then made birdie on the first playoff hole to secure the 27th seed in match play.

“The first day I was thinking about even par and that’s not a good mindset,” said Kelly. “Then when you have to come out and shoot under par, it switches your mindset around and you try to go after everything. I made five birdies on Tuesday, so it’s just a different mindset.”

On Wednesday, he outlasted 17-year-old Davis Chatfield (Locust Valley GC) in 21 holes during the round of 32 and then enjoyed a 5 and 4 win over Kevin Gately (Harmon GC) to earn a spot in the quarterfinals.

“That match against Davis was unbelievable,” said Kelly. “That kid can play. I think that he missed one fairways in 21 holes. It was brutal. I was two up early and he clawed his way back. He made a couple of great putts. He had three chances to beat me but just didn’t make the putts on 18, 19 and 20 and then three putted 21. I just hung in there and luckily I got through.”

Despite a shortened break between his matches (Gately had finished his round of 32 match more than two hours earlier in the day), Kelly wasted no time jumping ahead. He eventually closed out the match on the 14th hole.

“This afternoon was a lot different,” said Kelly. “I came out and eagled one and it was smooth sailing from there.”

Aiding Kelly along the way has indeed been his experience in 2014 when he defeated Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich GC) in the finals held at Kernwood Country Club. It marked his first major amateur championship victory for the 27-year-old Kelly.

“You have to take it one hole at a time and not get too down on yourself when you make a bogey or something,” said Kelly. “It’s 18 one-hole matches and it’s a blast. I am just really happy that I am playing tomorrow.”


Bracketology Insights

A total of 27 different MGA Member Clubs were represented by the match-play competitors. Thorny Lea GC had the most with three – Matt Parziale, Ryan Riley and John Hadges, while Marlborough CC, Longmeadow CC and Boston GC all had two members representing on Wednesday.

The two youngest competitors – Jack O’Donnell (14) and Mark Turner (16) – and the two of the three oldest competitors – Frank Vana, Jr. (53) and John McNeill (54) – faced off against each other in the round of 32.

Two years ago, Doug Clapp and Jake Shuman met in the semifinals of the MGA Amateur Championship held at Kernwood CC. Clapp defeated Shuman by a score of 2 and 1 before falling to eventual champion John Kelly in the final match.

Davis Chatfield resides in Attleboro and was a longtime participant in The First Tee of Massachusetts programming out of MGA Links in Norton.

In March of 2014, Matt Parziale was one of 12 Brockton residents who graduated from the Brockton Fire Department Training Program. Parziale is a two- time Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year (2009, 2014) and the 2015 MGA Mid-Amateur Champion. His father Vic is a 30+ year veteran of the Brockton Fire Department and served as Matt’s caddie this week in Williamstown.

Patrick Frodigh was a finalist at the 2015 MGA Amateur Championship held at Oak Hill Country Club. The University of Louisville golfer was defeated by Nick McLaughlin by a score of 4 and 3.

Three competitors – Davis Chatfield, Andrew Warfield and Alex Jamieson finished in the top 12 at the 2105 MGA Junior Amateur Championship held at Hopkinton CC. Chatfield was second, while Warfield finished T5 and Jamieson was T11. In that same event, Mark Turner turned in the fourth lowest score in the pre-junior division (14 to 15 year olds).

Three members of the St. Thomas Aquinas College golf team advanced to match play this year. Christopher Gentle, Brendan Hunter, Kevin Gately. Two of those teammates - Gentle and Hunter - ended up facing each other in the round of 16.

In May of 2016, Billy Walthouse became the first University of Rhode Island golfer to be selected to the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship since 1995. Walthouse, who will be a senior in the fall, was also named the New England Division I Golfer of the Year and was an Atlantic 10 All-Conference selection. The Rams have a long history of developing top golfers. That list includes Dana Quigley, Jim Salinetti, David Smith, Michael Sims and current Taconic GC head golf professional Josh Hillman.

The average age of the starting match play field was 27.43 with a range of 41 years. John Hadges (55) was the oldest competitor, while Jack O’Donnell (14) was the youngest. A total of 10 competitors are under the legal drinking age, and only 13 of the 32 are of the age to rent a car.

Titleist assumed its normal position at the MGA Amateur Championship… that of the #1 ball played by competitors. A total of 138 competitors used a Titleist ball during Championship Proper.

Zach Camarra has spent the last three years serving as an assistant men's golf coach for Worcester State University. The 2008 graduate of Worcester State, Camarra was a four-year member of the starting five and earned medalist honors in four tournaments and posted 17 top 10 finishes.

All 32 match play competitors earned an exemption into the 2016 MGA Amateur Championship per category #2. Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year points are also awarded.

Tim Umphrey will begin his freshman season at the University of Connecticut. He signed a letter of intent with the Huskies last November. In that release, his soon-to-be head coach – Dave Pezzino – said he was a “lunch-pail kind of guy.”

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