Mashpee, MA - While it took months of long hours on the range and more disappointment than he would like to remember, the hard work finally paid off for Devin Bibeau (Highfields G&CC) on Wednesday when he captured the 2010 Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship at Quashnet Valley Country Club.
Bibeau, a 20 year old rising junior at Temple University, has spent the better part of the summer tweaking his game to fit the challenges of the collegiate golf world. For months Bibeau missed cuts and wasn't scoring well. That is... until today.
"I couldn't breathe for the past four and a half hours," said a very happy and relieved Bibeau. "This is the first big win, for sure. I won a few junior events but this takes the cake by a lot. It also makes the two and a half hour ride home a little easier."
Bibeau pieced together two stellar rounds on a very challenging and oftentimes penal 6,601 layout in Mashpee to claim his first career MGA Championship title. He finished with a two-day total of 8-under par 136, which was six strokes better than second-place finisher Dan Falcucci (Cyprian Keyes GC).
"Seeing a lot of putts go in this week has given me a lot of confidence," said Bibeau, who still has three years of athletic eligibility left at Temple. "Going into this week, I was hitting it pretty well. I just kept on going and didn't want to look back."
When it counted, Bibeau was simply untouchable as he carded 11 birdies through two rounds including three through his final nine holes on Wednesday. In fact, Bibeau saw his first-round lead of five strokes shrink to three at the turn when Daniel Morgan (Hickory Ridge CC) made the turn at 2-under par. While Morgan could not keep up that sizzling pace, Bibeau went on a birdie run that distanced himself from the rest of the field.
"I made more clutch putts in the last two days than I have in a long time," said Bibeau, who has been using the same putter for the past nine years. "Sticking to my game plan also helped me. I hit irons off of 95 percent of the holes and stuck with my game plan no matter what happened."
One day earlier, Bibeau used that red-hot putter to post a course-record score of 5-under par 30 on the course's front nine. Following that day-one score of 5-under par 67, Bibeau began his final round with a bogey on the 590-yard, par 5 1st hole - only his third of the event. That early miscue did not deter Bibeau, however, as he went on to play 4-under par golf from that point on.
"I would definitely say that I was focused these past two days," said Bibeau. "I have been preparing a lot for this event knowing that I was going back to school and knowing that this is my last big event. I really wanted to end on a good note. I have had a tough summer, so I wanted to string together two good rounds."
No doubt celebrating along with Bibeau on this day is his coach at Temple and a former MGA Champion - Brian Quinn. For the past four years, Quinn - the 2003 Massachusetts Open Champion - has been a driving force behind the rise of the Owls golf program. Winner of 17 professional tournaments, Quinn, a Northborough native, is also the director of instruction at the BQ Golf Academy in Conshohocken, Pennsylania. His tutelage and commitment to Bibeau has culminated in today's success.
"I can't put into words how much he has done for me because it is more than you can ever say," said Bibeau. "He has helped me more than anything both on and off the golf course."
As a result of his performance today, Bibeau earned - among others - an exemption into the 2011 Massachusetts Open Championship. Perhaps that opening will set the stage for young Bibeau to join his coach among the prestigious list of past champions.
News & Notes
* When not competing, Dan Falcucci (Cyprian Keyes GC) serves as manager of the Callaway Performance Center at Cyprian Keyes Golf Club. Earlier this year, Falcucci had to miss out on the Massachusetts Amateur Championship for good reason... he qualified for and competed in the 2010 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship which was held at Bryan Park Golf Course (Greensboro, NC). Today marks the second time in three years that Falcucci has finished second at this event.
* Defending champion Ryan Riley (Norton CC) was unable to recreate the magic of one year ago when he posted an incredible course record tying score of 8-under par 63 at Franconia Golf Course on the final day to capture the title by four strokes. This time around, Riley made the turn on day one at 1-under par but suffered a 5-over par 42 on his back nine to finish at 4-over par 76 on Tuesday. He carded a two-round total of 6-over par 150.
* Four-time George M. Cohen MGA Senior Player of the Year Jim Ruschioni (Monoosnock GC) is looking to make a splash in the upcoming MGA senior amateur events. Following a day-one score of 7-over par 79, Ruschioni finished strong by making two birdies and seven pars for a final score of 9-over par 153. Next up for Ruschioni will be the Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Championship where he will look to claim his third straight and fifth overall title with longtime friend and partner Paul Nunez, Jr.
* Following the first round of play, three-time champion of this event - Bill Drohen (Brookmeadow CC) - withdrew from the competition. This marks the final MGA event that Drohen, who just last week won the Massachusetts Father & Son Championship with his dad Jim Drohen, will compete in this season. He is unable to compete in next month's Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship because of his job as a math teacher at Southeastern Regional Vocational High School. School will be in session.
* Antonio Grillo (Farm Neck GC) - who finished with a score of 1-under par 143- is one of seven Bay State golfers who will compete in the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship on August 23-29 at Chambers Bay in University Place in Washington. Last month at a sectional qualifier at Potowomut Golf Club (RI), Grillo posted a two-round total of 4-under par 138. Grillo, a former Christopher Cutler Rich MGA Junior Player of the Year, is currently a member of the golf team at Harvard University.
* Happy birthday wishes go out to the MGA's director of rules and competition - Jesse Menachem. Menachem, who has held this post for two years, is responsible for managing the 10 Championship Proper and more than 50 qualifying events held throughout the season.
A Look Ahead at 2011
It's never too early to start planning for the next event. In 2011, competitors from the Bay State can look forward to taking part in this event which will be held at South Shore Country Club in Hingham on August 2-3. Play on!