Defending champs Parziale-Aikens lead Mass. Four-Ball
Matt Parziale (photoed) and Herbie Aikens lead the way <br>(MGA Photo)
Matt Parziale (photoed) and Herbie Aikens lead the way
(MGA Photo)

HAVERHILL, MA (May 9, 2017) - Defending champions Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) and Herbie Aikens (Pinehills GC) sent a deafening message to the rest of field on day one of the 2017 Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship.

nder cool and damp conditions at Renaissance, the defending champions posted an 11-under par 61 to jump out to a two-stroke lead over the teams of Shawn Roderick (Bradford CC) and Nick Maccario (Bradford CC) and Sean Fitzpatrick (George Wright GC) and Chris Tarallo (Thorny Lea GC).

The round featured 11 birdies and a front-nine score of 7-under par 29. Perhaps most astounding, however, was the fact that the duo – which represents two of the strongest competitors in the region off the tee – played the four par 5s at Renaissance at just 1-under par.

“We played the par 5s horrible today,” said Parziale. “Usually when you play a course with four par 5s you try to get a birdie on all four, and we only got one on the first one and almost bogeyed another.”

Their lack of execution on the four par 5s was more than covered by their performance on the other 14 holes where they were 10-under par.

After making the turn at 4-under par 32, Parziale and Aikens faced the Renaissance front nine which is arguably the tougher of the two nines. It was there where they carded seven birdies and two pars.

“It was a perfect ding and dong,” said Aikens. “He would birdie one, and I could come back with one.”

On that front nine, Parziale and Aikens made birdie on the 1st and 2nd holes, respectively, before running into trouble on the 555-yard, par 5 3rd hole. What could have been a round-derailing hole for the duo turned into a momentum-continuing gift.

“We really screwed up the par 5 3rd hole and made a disaster of it,” said Parziale.” I was short in the hazard, and Herb got a bad break right. We were lucky to make par there and keep the momentum going for the last six holes.”

On the very next hole, Aikens sent his approach to inches on the 395-yard, par 4 6th hole and then drained a long birdie putt on the 374-yard, par 4 7th hole.

Parziale would cap off that front nine by making back-to-back birdies on the last two holes of the day, including an approach shot sent to inches on the 416-yard, par 4 8th hole.

“We are always kind of in it, and we hit it for the most part pretty straight,” said Aikens. “It’s rare when one guy is completely out of the hole and the other guy has everything. That wears you down. If you do that too much it ends up catching up to you.”

The field will have to do its best to catch up to the defending champions on day two as they look to secure their second straight title on Wednesday at Haverhill Country Club. If successful, they will become only the fifth team to repeat in back-to-back years as Four-Ball Champions since the Championship’s debut in 1981.

“We just have to keep doing what we are doing and try to have two legitimate birdie chances on every hole,” said Aikens. “They don’t have to be super close, but if you can stay below the hole and have good putts that is all we have to do. We have to keep the stress off each other and that is what we tend to do really well.”

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ABOUT THE Massachusetts Four-Ball

Entries are open to two-person teams of amateur golfers who hold membership in an MGA member club and have an up-to-date combined MGA/USGA GHIN Handicap Index not exceeding 6.0, or who have completed their handicap certification as defined on the Entry Form. Competition will be 36 holes at Four-Ball Stroke Play.

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