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Tommy Parker takes early Massachusetts Amateur Lead
First round leader Tommy Parker had never seen the course before Monday <br>(MGA Photo)
First round leader Tommy Parker had never seen the course before Monday
(MGA Photo)

DORCHESTER, MA (July 9, 2018) - History was made on Monday when the 110th Massachusetts Amateur Championship kicked off at William J. Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park. A field of the state’s top amateurs came to the Dorchester layout to compete in the first round of stroke play. All competitors will head to George Wright Golf Course on Tuesday for the second round of stroke play before the field is reduced to just 32 ahead of match play which will commence on Wednesday in Hyde Park.

While the event stands as the third oldest state amateur championship in the United States behind only the Golf Association of Philadelphia (115 years) and The Metropolitan Golf Association (113 years), this year marks the first time in history that both the Massachusetts Amateur Championship and the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship (scheduled for later this month) will be held at a fully public/municipal golf courses.

“This is a very historic week for Mass Golf and the City of Boston,” said Jesse Menachem, the Executive Director/CEO of Mass Golf during the event’s opening ceremonies. “William J. Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park is the second oldest public golf course in the nation, and we could not be happier to bring our two most premier events to these fine facilities.”

A GOLDEN DAY FOR BOSTON’S TOMMY PARKER

Entering Monday’s first round of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, 31-year old Boston resident Tommy Parker had never seen the William J. Devine Golf Course layout, despite living less than six miles away from the second oldest public golf course in the country. Playing in his third career state amateur championship and his first since 2016, his plan for the first round was to rely on the likes of friends for suggestions on how to approach certain tee shots.

With 18-holes down, it’s safe to say the game plan for the Thorny Lea Golf Club member certainly paid off. Parker made birdie on his first hole, erased a double on his third hole, then added five more birdies and an eagle to finish his first round at 6-under 64 to stand atop the leaderboard at the halfway point of the stroke play portion of the 110th edition of the championship.

“It was a good round,” said the former Stetson University golfer, who last year advanced to the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. “I played well and made some putts. It was just good to be out here. The place is in good shape.”

Starting Monday’s first round on the 10th tee, Parker jumped ahead of the competition early by making birdie on the par-4 opening hole – a down-hill tee shot with an uphill green – that played at over 330 yards, a start that helped determine the rest of his day.

“Birdying the first hole always helps with the confidence,” said Parker following the completion of his first round. “I had a little hiccup on 12, which was my third hole. I made a double bogey there. Just a bad chip that got away from me. Other than that, I was solid.”

Relying on the knowledge of others who had seen the course before, either in competition or in a practice round leading up to this week, Parker took their advice to heart and the results paid dividends.

“They gave me some guidance on where to hit it off the tees because there are a couple blind shots out there,” explained Parker. “I was able to get some wedges inside six feet and make a few putts.”

He made birdies on 13 and 14, and added one on 18 to make his double all but a memory, enabling him to still make the turn at 2-under par.

On his way in, Parker really did some damage on the board when he holed out from nearly 100 yards away on the par-4 first hole, a straightaway green nearly 400 yards deep.

After his drive that extended beyond 275 yards, Parker, who grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida, used a sand wedge in his attempt to find the green on his second shot. From 97 yards out, Parker’s shot took a hop on the green and went in the hole, allowing him to card a two on the par-4 for an eagle, one of only four recorded during Monday’s morning round.

“I knew I hit a good shot. When it goes in, it’s always a bonus,” said Parker. “I hit a little sand wedge in there and it took a hop and went in, so it was fun.”

He made birdie on the third and the fifth holes – a pair of par-4’s – then shot par on each of the remaining holes to finish his first round at 6-under par 64, holding a one-stroke lead over former Wake Forest golfer Ben Balter (Weston GC), and a logjam of competitors who followed suit by carding scores that appeared in red on the leaderboard.

Looking to build off the success enjoyed by others at his Brockton club, including reigning champion Matt Parziale and two-time champion John Hadges, among others, Parker will be teeing off at 12:37 pm Tuesday at George Wright Golf Course. If he were to continue his solid play, it would be the first time that he’d advance to the match play portion of the state amateur championship.

LASER FOCUS FOR MATT PARZIALE

Despite a golf schedule that includes trips at Augusta National Golf Club, Shinnecock Golf Club, Pinehurst and Pebble Beach Golf Links, Brockton’s Matt Parziale made sure to include a stop at William J. Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park and George Wright Golf Course.

After all, the 2017 Richard D. Haskell Massachusetts Player of the Year is looking to defend the Massachusetts Amateur Championship title he won one year ago and in the process become only the 11th person to win The Massachusetts Cup two straight years.

“It’s always a fun tournament to play,” said Parziale, who posted an even par 70 on Monday. “It’s great to come out here and compete. It’s the last day here, and then we head over to George Wright.”

After missing the cut but still gaining many headlines at the Masters in April, Parziale created Father’s Day memories for a lifetime by making the cut and finishing as co-low amateur at the 2018 U.S. Open Championship last month in Shinnecock.

“It has been a lot of fun,” said Parziale, who much like he did for the Masters and U.S. Open had his father Vic as his caddy on Monday. “I have been able to play a lot of competitive golf.

I have done OK at some points and bad at some points, but it has been great.”

Today’s round is a return to competitive play for Parziale who took most of last week off. Following this week, Parziale will head to Niagara Country Club in New York for the Porter Cup on July 18-21 and then return home to compete in the 2018 Ouimet Memorial Tournament on July 25-27. He will then focus his attention on getting married in early August before heading to California for the 2018 U.S. Amateur Championship on August 13-19.

For right now, however, Parziale is exercising a short memory and is focused on just one task – to win this week’s golf tournament.

“Last year doesn’t mean anything,” said Parziale. “This is a new week and a year later and a different course. I am trying to play a couple of good rounds here and see what happens on Wednesday.”

NINE EXCITED TO REPRESENT THEIR HOST COURSE

They come from different towns. They are all different ages, and their years of golf experience all vary. But for nine golfers in this week’s Massachusetts Amateur Championship, there is one thing that they do have in common. They all call George Wright Golf Course in Hyde Park, the site of this week’s second day of stroke play as well as the five rounds of match play, home.

Following his collegiate season and in need of a place to hold his GHIN handicap index, 2017 Mass Amateur runner-up Matt Cowgill made the leap to a George Wright Golf Course membership this past season and joins the likes of Sean Fitzpatrick, James Imai, Ben Spitz, Stephen Demare, Alex Olbrych, Theo Lederhause, Cob Carlson and Sam Bush – who are all competitors in this week’s field who hope to advance to the match play portion of the third oldest amateur championship in the country.

Coincidentally, the nine competitors – four who were exempt as a result of past success in the mid-summer tournament and five who qualified at one of 10 sectional qualifiers held across the Bay State – also represent the largest contingent of competitors from a single club in this year’s Championship Proper.

The group of nine from George Wright Golf Course hold a two-person advantage over Watertown’s Oakley Country Club, who has seven competitors represented in the field and Thorny Lea Golf Club, who has five including day-one leader Tommy Parker.

As one can imagine, the opportunity to compete in the state’s most historic tournament on their home course for at least one day, and hopefully more, brings an extra layer of excitement to the Championship Proper.

Brookline’s James Imai, a successful junior competitor who has been a member at George Wright for the past four years, was particularly happy when it was announced that his home club was chosen to host the Amateur Championship.

“I think this year is obviously extra special because it is at George Wright, my home course,” said Imai, who will be going into his senior year at Brookline High. “This [championship] was one of the first ones I signed up for when I was planning out my tournaments. I’m definitely excited and we’re off to a good start.”

After qualifying at South Shore Country Club on May 30, a 1-over par 73 performance that entered him into his first ever state amateur, Imai hopes his familiarity this week at George Wright will be a difference maker, especially if he were to advance to the match play portion of competition, which kicks off Wednesday.

“Especially on these two courses, there are a lot of blind shots so definitely seeing the lines and the wind [are key],” said Imai, who posted an even par 70 at William J. Devine GC at Franklin Park on Monday. “At George Wright, they’ve removed a couple trees so the wind can swirl. Obviously, knowing the wind is key.”

A similar notion was felt by former Harvard University golfer Theo Lederhausen, who despite not playing the course as much as he would like, still holds his GHIN handicap index out of the club.

“I think it’s awesome that the tournament is being hosted by both Franklin Park here and George Wright,” said Lederhausen following Monday’s round in which he finished with three birdies and shot even-par 70. “They are both in wonderful shape, and it’s awesome that the city has continued to make them better. I’m excited to go out there tomorrow.”

In addition to Imai, Lederhausen and also Ben Spitz, who sit at T15 on the leaderboard, Matt Cowgill led the contingent of George Wright competitors after finishing his day at 1-under 69 to place T11. Fitzpatrick finished at 2-over 72 while Sam Bush shot 75, Cob Carlson shot 76, Stephen DeMare 78 and Alex Olbrych an 81.

The test as to whether any true home field advantage will exist will be determined Tuesday.

ABOUT THE Massachusetts Amateur

Qualifying - 18 Holes at Stroke Play to determine 32 Qualifiers for Match Play. Entries are open to amateur golfers who have an active MGA/GHIN Handicap Index at any public, private, semi-private, municipal or non-real estate MGA member course/club not exceeding 4.4.

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