EAST FALMOUTN, MA - It may have taken two rounds of golf, but the putts finally started to fall for the team of Kevin Carey (Dennis Pines GC) and Ray Richard (Thorny Lea GC) on Wednesday as they cruised to their first-ever Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Championship title. They finished with a two-round total of 7-under par 135.
"For me, I have had my share of wins but to do this with him means so much," said Carey. "He is a great guy and a great competitor. We have played a lot together over the years... mostly against each other... but it's just awesome."
Heading into the second and final day of play three strokes back of the leaders, Carey/Richard posted an untouchable second-round score of 6-under par 66 at The Golf Club of Cape Cod to win the title by a one-stroke margin over Alistair Catto (The Orchards GC) and Bob Linn (Berkshire Hills CC).
The comeback began early and often as they made birdie on their first three holes. Carey made a five footer on the 1st hole, Richard sunk a three footer on the 2nd hole and then Carey two putted for birdie on the 518-yard, par 5 3rd hole. Two pars later, Carey drained a 10-foot birdie putt on the 449-yard, par 4 6th hole, and then Richard made a three-foot birdie putt on the 9th hole to make the turn at 5-under par 31.
"We left a lot out there yesterday," said Richard, who works at Willowbend, the co-host of this year's event. "But today we got it going early, and we played like a team."
Although not as sexy as the front, the back nine was perhaps the most important stretch of play as the duo managed to not only make two more birdies - on the 14th and 17th holes - they also got up and down for par on several occasions to keep the momentum going.
To wit, on the 173-yard, par 3 16th hole, Richard found a way to get up and down for par from the hazard in front of the green. A lone bogey on the 541-yard, par 5 finishing hole left them shaking their heads, but that feeling of disappointment was quickly erased when they realized that no other team was able to accomplish what they had over the two-day period.
"The wind picked up a little bit [on the back nine] and we hit a few wayward shots," said Richard. "Other than on 16, we were right around it and not in danger of making bogies. So it was a good team effort."
Following the team's first round of play - a 1-under par 69 at Willowbend on Tuesday - there were few smiles exchanged between the two longtime friends. While Carey was noticeably unnerved by the putts they missed that round, Richard quickly left so that he could finish off his day of work at Willowbend.
Like most seasoned competitors do, however, Carey and Richard regrouped and came out with renewed energy on Wednesday and left very little doubt as to which team would claim the MGA Senior Four-Ball trophy.
"I have been close and this is my first," said Richard when asked about the importance of his MGA victory. "When you get older you don't know what you have left and it is always good to compete and play with friends. That is what it is all about."
For Carey, this marks the third championship in as many months. He captured his fourth consecutive Seagulls Fourball Championship in April, his third Norfolk Classic title in May and now his first Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Championship in June. This also marks the third MGA Championship title for Carey, who won the Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship in 1994 and 1995.
Richard is no stranger to victory either. The longtime member at Thorny Lea Golf Club won the Southeastern Amateur in 1995.
On this day, however, it was all about partner golf and coming up with big shots when they were most needed against one of the strongest senior four-ball fields in recent memory.
"We compliment each other very well," said Richard. "He has beaten my brains out enough over the years and I have beaten him some as well... but he is a good friend and that is what this is all about."
Moving up the leaderboard on day two courtesy of a 5-under par 67 at The Golf Club of Cape Cod were Catto and Linn. They finished with four birdies, one bogey and an eagle. That all-important "2" came on the 254-yard, par 4 2nd hole where Linn - who nearly drove the green - chipped in from 10 yards off the green.