QUINCY — For John Hadges, it was another back-to-the-future moment Sunday in the Norfolk County Classic at Presidents Golf Course in Quincy.
Hadges, a 52-year-old Easton resident and member at Thorny Lea GC, is one of only a handful of entrants over the weekend who played in the first tournament in 1978, but he captured his third NCC crown since making his debut 35 years ago.
Sunday’s victory caught Hadges by surprise. He shot a 1-under-69 in Saturday’s first round and trailed first-round leader Taylor Fontaine of Cohasse Country Club (65) by four strokes along with both Doug Clapp of Old Sandwich GC (68) and Sean Fitzpatrick of George Wright GC (68) by one stroke. He put together a methodical round of 1-over 71 on Sunday for an even-par total of 140, then watched the scoreboard in the clubhouse.
Clapp and Kevin Quinn of Charles River CC finished tied for second, one stroke back at 141.
“Tougher day today,” said Hadges, one of the top amateur golfers in Massachusetts who won the NCC in 1982 and 2005. “The wind picked up and it got cold when the clouds rolled in. I don’t like the cold ... the hotter, the better, is my philosophy.”
“I’m definitely surprised,” added Hadges. “I didn’t think my score would hold up. Seventy-one is a good score, but I thought the winning score would be under par and it would come from someone in the final group.”
Instead, Fontaine ballooned to a 9-over 79 on Sunday and Fitzpatrick and Clapp also faltered with higher second-round scores. Most of the scores shot up during the final round due to the worsening conditions.
“I didn’t have it today,” said Fontaine, who fired a 5-under-par round on Saturday. “Nine bogeys and nine pars isn’t going to cut it. Not a good day.”
Overall, it was a frustrating week for Clapp. Last week, he and Andy Drohen teamed up to take the first-round lead of the Mass. Four-Ball only to settle for a second-place finish. On Sunday, Clapp was clearly frustrated with his roller-coaster round of 73, which featured two double-bogeys and a 15-foot birdie putt attempt on 18, which he left short and which could have put him in a playoff.
“This was all my doing today,” said Clapp, who finished second in the MGA Player of the Year standings in 2012. “I shot out of the gate with a 3 (birdie), a 3, and a 3 (birdie) and I’m tied for the lead standing on the fourth tee. I’m right where I needed to be, and I hook it left on 4 to make double (bogey) and give it right back. And you know you can’t miss it left there.”