HAVERHILL, MA (September 17, 2009)--It wasn't a question of whether he would win… it was more about how much would he distance himself from the field.
Brian Higgins (Franklin CC) took care of business on Thursday by calming posting a 5-under par 65 and claiming his second straight Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship title by an astounding 12 strokes. He finished with a three-day total of 14-under par 196.
By finishing 12 strokes ahead of Phil Smith (Vesper CC), Higgins' victory represents the largest margin of victory ever recorded at this event. The previous record was posted by Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough CC) in 2006 at Walpole Country Club when he won by seven strokes. Higgins is also only the sixth golfer in the 26-year history of the event to win more than one such title.
"It was by far my best collective three days of golf I have ever played in my life," said Higgins, who spent time on the professional circuit prior to being reinstated as an amateur in 1998. "I have never gone this deep in my life and it feels great."
Adding to the list of accomplishments this week, Higgins was the only player to break par on all three days. In fact, during the second round, Higgins bettered the day's scoring average of 76.207 by an incredible 11 strokes.
"I kept my same game plan and didn't change any shots today," said Higgins, who made birdie on three of his first four holes to silence any hopes of a come-from-behind challenge. "I hit a nice wedge into the first hole and made a 12 footer after Phil made his birdie putt, which was a good way to start."
Higgins, the reigning Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year, entered the final round with a seven-stroke lead and was anything but complacent through his final 18 holes. Following a bogey on the 383-yard, par 4 5th hole – only his third in three days – Higgins went on cruise control and carded three more birdies – on the 12th, 16th and 18th holes – to cap off his second 5-under par 65 round of the tournament.
"It's fun," said Higgins. "I felt like I wasn't going to make any mistakes. I had a couple of anxious moments out there, but for the most part I kept calm and hit the shots I needed to and I was able to play aggressive when I thought that I could."
Even when it looked like he might be in trouble, Higgins managed to recover almost effortlessly. For instance, on the 401-yard, par 4 16th hole when his drive sailed right into the trees, Higgins used his 7 iron to chip out in front of the green. While most competitors would have hoped for par, Higgins calmly chipped in from 35 feet for birdie. He also managed to make par one hole earlier after his tee shot landed on the 16th tee box.
"It was very unexpected," said Higgins of his monstrous victory. "I came into the week thinking that I could win, but I never thought that it would be like this. I just hope that it continues on in the national events."
Before Higgins begins his preparation for the upcoming USGA Men's State Team Championship (see more below) and the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, he will do what most of the amateur competitors do following a round of golf… head home and attempt to do some work before picking up the kids.
"I'll grab the three kids at 5 and then make dinner for them all," said Higgins who enjoys time with his three children ranging in age from 8 to 7 months. "I'll be Mr. Dad tonight."
So while the young ones may be more impressed with his cooking talents tonight, perhaps one day they will hear stories about what their father accomplished on this special day.
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