Matt Parziale defends his Massachusetts Mid-Amateur title
Back-to-back Massachusetts Mid-Amateur champion Matt Parziale <br>(David Colt/MGA Photo)
Back-to-back Massachusetts Mid-Amateur champion Matt Parziale
(David Colt/MGA Photo)
EAST FALMOUTH, MA (September 22, 2016) -- What looked to be a one-man show turned into an old-school duel during the final round of the 2016 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship, which was held this week at the Golf Club of Cape Cod.

When all scorecards were signed and following a 54-hole battle, it was Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) – the 2015 champion of this event – who prevailed for his second straight MGA Championship title.

He finished with a three-day score of 4-under par 212 that edged out second-place finisher John Kelly (Twin Hills CC) by three strokes.

“I don’t know if it’s added pressure, but you want to win every event you play in and you want to compete,” said Parziale about defending his title. “To win two in a row is special.”

One year ago, Parziale cruised to his first Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship title. In fact, he set an event record for the largest margin of victory (15 strokes). With a five-stroke lead heading into the final round this week, it appeared that he would mimic that feat one year later at TGC.

As it turns out, the challenging Rees Jones layout and Kelly had other plans in mind.

“They are all different,” said Parziale. “Last year I was fortunate enough to have a bigger lead and was able to keep the lead. John had a great round going today. I thought that today probably played the most difficult, but you just have to stay in there and trust what you are trying to do.”

Parziale began his round with an uncharacteristic double bogey on his first hole of the day. It was not just his first double bogey of the tournament, but it marked only his second miscue of the tournament. Up until that point, Parziale had carded six birdies, one eagle (a hole in one) and one bogey through 36 holes.

Parziale would rebound on the 271-yard, par 4 2nd hole with a birdie but he would then struggle through the next 13 holes where he played 3-over par golf.

“I hit some bad shots throughout the round,” said Parziale. “I was making some bad decisions with clubs and trying to hit them a little too far and a little too easy.”

While Parziale struggled, Kelly was soaring two groups ahead of the leaders.

“I was even going in, and I played pretty good today,” said Kelly, who finished as runner up at the 2016 Massachusetts Amateur Championship. “I gave him a little bit of a scare and then made two bogies in the last three holes. It was a great tournament though.”

Kelly, who made only one birdie during Wednesday’s round, made birdie on three of his first 10 holes on Thursday, and by his 13th hole had pulled even with Parziale at 3-under par for the tournament.

However, the two-man match came down to the 144-yard, par 3 16th hole. Kelly made bogey and then minutes later Parziale drained a 50-foot putt for birdie and a two-stroke swing.

“I knew exactly where I stood,” said Kelly. “I hit a pretty decent shot on 16. It landed on the green and spun back into a clump of garbage, and unfortunately I couldn’t get up and down. Then I had a wedge into 17, and I knew that I had to birdie that one because I could hear the claps going on at 16 when Matt made the bomb.”

Kelly was unable to make birdie on 17 and then attacked the final hole more aggressively than he would normally which resulted in a bogey and a final round score of 1-under par 71.

“I figured that I had to make eagle there [on 18], and I hit a club off the tee that I should never have hit but that happens,” said Kelly, the 2014 Massachusetts Amateur Champion. “I was even for the tournament and was seven back going into today, but I played pretty good today. I gave him a little bit of a scare and then made two bogies in the last three holes. It was a great tournament though.”

Meanwhile, Parziale used his momentum from the long birdie putt on the 16th hole to cruise to the finish line.

“I had a good line on it and I knew that it was going to turn pretty fast once it got turning,” said Parziale of his birdie on the 16th hole. “Once I hit it I knew that it was a good line, and it had enough momentum to fall in. Those are always fun to make.”

And after a round in which he questioned his club selection, he decided to let his caddie – his father Vic – make the final call on the 18th hole where he capped off his round with a birdie.

“I was contemplating going for the green [on 18],” said Parziale. “I got there yesterday in two, but I actually told my dad to make the decision and he told me to lay up. It all worked out. I was able to hit a wedge in there to a few feet and that helped.”

With a look of relief on his face, Parziale accepted his second Ted Bishop Cup.

“This time it was a real battle until the end,” said Parziale.

Parziale and Kelly will share the golf course again next week as they are two of the three competitors who will represent Team Massachusetts at the 2016 USGA Men’s State Championship on September 28-30 at the Country Club of Birmingham in Birmingham, Alabama.

“I just hope that we can compete and do well out there,” said Parziale. “We all get along and are looking forward to the opportunity.”

News & Notes From the Final Day

Ted Bishop – for whom the Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship trophy is named – was one of the six inductees into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame in 2014. Bishop stands as the most dominating amateur golfers to hail from the Bay State. A two-time Walker Cup team member, Bishop is perhaps best known for capturing what the local media dubbed the “triple crown” by winning the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, New England Amateur Championship and the U.S. Amateur Championship in one year - 1946. No one else has accomplished this feat, before or since.

The next class of inductees – which includes Frank Vana, Jr. – will be officially enshrined on Thursday, October 13th at Andover Country Club. Longtime WCVB-TV sportscaster Mike Dowling will serve as master of ceremonies, while NHL Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett will give a special welcome address. In addition to Vana, the following Bay State legends will be inducted into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame that evening – Bob Crowley, Bill Flynn, Joe Lazaro, Anne Marie Tobin and Herbert Warren Wind.

This week’s field had the honor of competing on a Rees Jones original design. Over the course of his career, Jones has designed or redesigned more than 170 golf courses including eight here in the Bay State. Those courses include the following: Blackstone National GC, Marshfield CC, Nantucket GC, Nashawtuc CC, New Seabury Club (Dunes & Ocean Courses), Pineshills GC, The Country Club and of course TGC.

Current and future mid-amateur competitors can look forward to the 2017 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship, which will be held at Franklin CC on September 25-27. The 2018 edition of this MGA Championship Proper will be held at Plymouth CC.

Fifteen of today’s competitors can already begin looking forward to 2017. After all, the top 15 lowest scorers and ties in the 2016 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship are exempt for this event in 2017.

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