Marion, MA – It has been said that the Massachusetts Amateur Championship is more a marathon than a golf tournament. That sentiment certainly played out on Friday as John Hadges (North Easton – Thorny Lea GC) outlasted Matt Parziale (Brockton – Thorny Lea GC) in the 36-hole final of this prestigious Massachusetts Golf Association event.
Over a five-day period, the two players logged more than 290 holes of golf at The Kittansett Club in Marion. Despite the arduous path to the championship, both players saved their best golf for the end and it took a near perfect two rounds of golf by Hadges to seal his first-ever MGA Championship.
The match was deadlocked for 22 of the 36 holes with neither player being able to pull more than one shot ahead. It wasn't until the dramatic 36th hole when Hadges posted a critical par on the 455-yard, par 4 finishing hole to defeat Parziale by a score of 1 Up.
As a result, Hadges not only captured a title that has been won by golfing greats such as Francis Ouimet, Eddie Lowery, Gene Sarazon and Jesse Guilford, he is now able to call himself the victor of the 100th playing of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship and becomes the first Massachusetts Amateur medalist (i.e. the player who posts the low score during the stroke play portion of the event) to win the title since James Driscoll accomplished that feat back in 1998 at Belmont Country Club.
The road to the title was long and challenging as Hadges had to knock off some of the best talent Bay State golf has to offer in Ken Gys (Dracut –Mount Pleasant GC), defending New England Invitational and reigning Massachusetts Four-Ball champion Brian Higgins (Bellingham – Franklin CC), nine-time Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year Frank Vana, Jr. (Boylston – Marlborough CC) and Daniel Falcucci (Northboro – Cyprian Keyes GC) in the semifinals.
When he faced off against the 21-year-old Parziale on Friday, however, Hadges was clearly ready for the task. The 26-year age difference did not seem to be much of a factor as Hadges played 1-under par golf through the final 36 holes. The match was all square for seven straight holes down the stretch before Hadges took advantage of a Parziale miscue on the 31st hole.
Parziale, a senior at Southeastern University and the 2007 NCCAA National Player of the Year, didn't flinch, however, as he responded with a birdie on the 545-yard, par 5 33rd hole to square the match. Another bogey by Parziale on the next hole gave Hadges a 1 Up lead but Parziale once again responded… this time in dramatic fashion.
On the 392-yard, par 4 35th hole, Parziale lined up his third shot and proceeded to chip in from 50 feet out to make birdie and win the hole. As a result, the entire match came down to the final hole.
After both players hit solid drives, Hadges' second shot came up short. He then sent his approach to six feet. Meanwhile, Parziale's low iron shot also came up short of the green. His chip was not as forgiving as it hit the fringe and landed just left of the hole. At that point, it was all about the putter. Parziale's putt missed short while Hadges calmly drained what was his 25th par of the day for the win!
The morning round did nothing but show how evenly matched these two players were as neither was able to take control and generate more than a 1 Up lead. Despite playing on a layout that has made making birdies a challenging task throughout the entire week, both players were 1-under par for the first 18 holes. Parziale claimed his first lead of the match on the 534-yard, par 5 7th hole when he made an eagle to beat a birdie by Hadges. The 47-year-old veteran, however, registered two birdies – on the 10th and 14th holes – to grab what would be a short-lived lead. The last counter punch came courtesy of Parziale who took advantage of a bogey by Hadges on the 18th hole to square the match.
The historic ending of this event played out at The Kittansett Club in Marion, the site of five Massachusetts Amateur Championships dating back to 1958. The 2009 Massachusetts Amateur Championship will be held at The Country Club in Brookline
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