MANCHESTER, MA (July 15, 2005) -- Two years ago, people questioned whether or not Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough CC) would go down as the best amateur golfer in the state to never win a Massachusetts Amateur title. Any lingering doubts about his dominance on the local golf circuit, however, were silenced for a second year in a row as Vana captured his second straight Massachusetts Amateur Championship title this afternoon at Essex County Club in Manchester.
Vana, the six-time Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year and defending State Amateur champion, defeated 21-year-old Ben Spitz (Fairway Club) by a score of 6 & 5 in Friday’s 36-hole final match. As a result, Vana, 42, lays claim to the prestigious Commonwealth Cup which has been won by such golfing greats as Francis Ouimet, Jesse Guilford and Frederick J. Wright and more recently by PGA Tour player James Driscoll. Just one year ago, Vana captured his first State Amateur title at Taconic Golf Club.
This year Vana battled through two rounds of stroke play and four matches to earn a precious spot in Friday’s finals against Spitz, who is standout golfer at the University of Rhode Island. Vana wasted no time displaying his dominance, however, as he broke out to a commanding 5 Up lead through the first 18 holes. The brief lunch break did not stop his momentum as he built up his biggest lead of the championship – a 7 Up margin – by making par on the 28 th hole of the match. He closed out the match on the 375-yard, par 4 14th hole by matching Spitz with a par.
After posting a remarkable 3-under par 67 round during the semifinals, Spitz struggled with his driver during the final match and made four bogeys and two double bogeys through his first 18 holes. While the course was not set up for low scores (there were many challenging hole locations), Spitz sailed two of his drives – on the 3 rd and 8 th holes –out of bounds. Vana, meanwhile, displayed poise and patience throughout the day by steadily making his way through the morning rround by posting five bogeys and a critical eagle on the 457-yard 5th hole. Spitz narrowed the deficit to 3 Down after Vana registered two straight bogeys on the 12th and 13th holes, but that would be as close as Spitz would come.
During the afternoon, Spitz was simply unable to make a charge at Vana who continued to make few errors and thus match Spitz par-for-par. Vana sealed his victory by making a phenomenal chip from the back of the green to one foot on the 31 st hole. Spitz conceded Vana’s par putt and the 6 & 5 defeat.
With the victory, Vana becomes only the ninth player in the 102-year history of this event to capture two consecutive State Amateur titles. The last person to capture two straight titles was Jim Salinetti who won this event in 1999-2000. Other champions who have equalled such a feat were Arthur Lockwood, Francis Ouimet, Frederick J. Wright, Jr., Bill Mallon, Bruce Douglass, James Hallet and Kevin Johnson.
For complete match tree results, click on the tournament link above (amateurgolf.com membership required).