Daniel Seigenberg and Jim Gerrish
(David Colt Photography)
HARVARD, MA (May 23, 2017) - With 30 teams within three strokes of each other following the first round, there was no question in anyone’s mind that the 2017 Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Championship would come down to the wire.
In the end, it took 36 regulation holes plus two sudden-death holes to determine who would take home the coveted James Shea Memorial Trophy.
Standing alone at the top was the team of Daniel Seigenberg (Franklin CC) and Jim Gerrish (Franklin CC), who outlasted Kevin Carey (Dennis Pines GC) and Joe Walker (Dennis Pines GC) on Tuesday afternoon at Red Tail Golf Club.
Seigenberg was the one who made birdie on the second playoff hole after both teams finished regulation at 11-under par 133.
“This is it,” said Seigenberg. “This is the pinnacle for me, and I’m sure it’s the same for Jimmy. Neither of us have ever won a state title or anything like this.”
For Seigenberg it was not only a chance to capture his first MGA Championship title, but it was also a nice way to give his partner a birthday gift as Gerrish was celebrating his 70th birthday on this day.
“It’s a great birthday,” said Gerrish following the round. “Now I get to call my wife to tell her about this and that I’m coming home.”
After both teams made par on the first playoff hole, the players and the traveling gallery made their way to Red Tail GC’s 500-yard, par 5 18th hole.
With Walker and Gerrish on the green in three facing long downhill birdie putts, Seigenberg stepped up to his approach and sent a perfect shot from 100 yards to four feet short of the front hole location. It was an especially clutch shot as a daunting body of water sat just right of the green.
“It was a good distance for him,” said Gerrish. “I told him right away that he had to hit it and not lay off it.”
The pressure then moved to Carey who was left of the green following his second shot from the fairway. His chip from thick rough rolled well past the hole. Neither Carey nor Walker was able to convert their birdie attempts, which left the door open for Seigenberg who made sure that he delivered.
“When I was standing over that putt I was thinking that I just have to make this for his birthday,” said Seigenberg with a laugh.
It wasn’t the first time that Seigenberg had come through that day.
Six hours earlier, the team was 10-under par with one hole remaining. It was then – on the 418-yard, par 4 9th hole – where Seigenberg sent his wedge approach to 20 feet and then made the putt to finish at 11-under par 133.
“It was a pretty straight putt and I actually thought that when I made it we wouldn’t be waiting around for six hours,” said Seigenberg. “We thought that 11 under would win, but you never know.”
It was a fitting end to what was two memorable, and what turned out to be, extra long days of golf contested at the host sites of Red Tail GC and Shaker Hills CC.
After all, both teams signed their scorecards just after 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, but then had to wait another six hours before beginning what ended up being a two-team playoff.
During that break, the competitors enjoyed lunch, naps and a friendly game of Corn Hole on the grassy knoll overlooking the 18th hole.
“It was a long wait but once you get to this stage you just let it go,” said Seigenberg. “There were definitely more nervous situations than this, so we just played shots.”
Tuesday’s finish also marks the third time in five years that this Championship Proper has been decided by a sudden-death playoff.
But for the birthday boy Gerrish, there was just one way to sum up the experience.
“This is just cool,” said Gerrish.
KING AND KELLER WIN HISTORIC DIVISIONAL TITLE
A part of the property that once held the largest military base in New England, Red Tail GC on the former Fort Devens site added to its long legacy of history when it crowned the Massachusetts Senior Four Ball Super Senior Division Champions on Tuesday.
Dick King (Hyannis GC) and Joseph Keller (Oyster Harbors) became the first duo to win the newly created division that recognizes the lowest scores for competitors aged 65 and over. To be eligible for the division, which was added prior to the 2017 Championship season, both competitors must have reached their 65th birthday by the start of the two-day, 36-hole Championship Proper.
Their combined score between Red Tail GC and Monday’s site at nearby Shaker Hills CC was 9-under par 135, 2-strokes ahead of the runner up team of Jim Ruschioni (Ludlow CC) and Paul Nunez (Wachusett CC).
Six years after missing the Senior Four Ball title by one stroke, longtime friends King and Keller found themselves on the back nine of Red Tail having carded a 1-under at the halfway point and trying to keep up with the duo of Doug Crawford (International) and Dean Parziale (Braintree Municipal GC), who they were partnered with on the tee sheet.
“Finally I told Joe that we’re not playing against them,” recollected King, who is also the reigning MGA Super Senior Amateur Champion. “We just need to play the course and play our own game. So that is what we did.”
After making par on the first five holes, it was that sound advice that one longtime friend to another that sent the spark they needed to push through to victory.
Following the team’s first birdie on the 6th hole that enabled them to make the turn at 1-under par on the day, the Cape Cod residents scorched three straight birdies on Holes 10-12 and added an extra on Hole 14 to set the pace for the rest of the round.
“It’s an honor,” said King on winning the second straight MGA Championship he has competed in. “Joe has won tons of Massachusetts Golf Association crowns and this is my second, so it’s really an honor to break the ice and win more than one.”
They carded a score of 5-under 67 on Tuesday, a day after their 4-under 68, to win the inaugural Super Senior Division of the Senior Four Ball Championship.
After overcoming the challenges connected with poor playing conditions on Monday afternoon, a day in which they still finished among the top of the leaderboard, the pair took advantage of the preferred playing conditions on Tuesday to really leave their mark on the course.
When all was said and done, the pair finished T3 overall, only two strokes behind the 2017 Champions, Seigenberg and Gerrish.
“We were doing what we were supposed to be doing,” said Keller, a 2005 MGA Senior Amateur Champion who has also several regional championships over the course of his career. “We all meshed. We weren’t expecting much going into it, but it’s nice to come out on top.”
With the victory, the duo’s name will sit atop the Past Champions list and become enshrined amongst the deep history of the MGA for years to come.
ANOTHER MEMORABLE DAY AT RED TAIL GC
Two years ago, MGA Championship history was made at Red Tail Golf Club – one of the two host sites of the 2017 Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Championship.
On August 5, 2015, Nick McLaughlin – a former amateur who is currently pursuing a professional golf career – won the 2015 Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship in Harvard. He claimed his victory that day by lofting a wedge shot to 20 feet on the Red Tail GC’s 18th hole to set up a one-stroke victory.
What made that moment so special was the fact that with the victory McLaughlin became the first golfer in Bay State history to win that title as well as the Massachusetts Amateur and New England Amateur Championships... all in the same calendar year. He would go on – no surprise – to be named the 2015 Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year.
It was also that same year when the first round of the Championship was suspended due to an incredible storm system that dropped marble-sized hail onto the golf course that accumulated on the teeing and green service. A river of water even developed on several areas of the course including the 18th and 1st fairways.
Thanks to the incredible work of the Red Tail GC staff, the course was playable the next day and was a perfect setting for McLaughlin’s incredible victory.
It was one of many great moments that has been played out on a course that was built on a former Army base, Fort Devens.
The course – which opened its doors in 2002 – has hosted four MGA Championships – 2005 Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship, 2011 Massachusetts Father & Daughter Championship, 2015 Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship and 2017 Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Championship.
In 2009, the Devens facility hosted its first-ever USGA Championship when the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship was hosted on June 22-27. Jennifer Song defeated Kimberly Kim by a score of 7 and 6.
Song, who is a current LPGA player, became only the fourth player in history to win both the U.S. Amateur Public Links and the U.S. Amateur Championships and the second player to win both in the same year.
SHOTS OF THE DAY
Although they may not have taken home any hardware this week, Bruce Carter (Green Hill GC) and Stephen Mihalek (Oak Ridge CC) had the honor of posting the shots of the days.
Both competitors carded holes in one on Tuesday at Red Tail GC. Mihalek made his ace on the 171-yard, par 3 11th hole with a 6-iron shot off the tee. Carter followed suite later in the day by finding the bottom of the up with his 9 iron on Red Tail GC’s 155-yard, par 3 11th hole.
Top twenty (20) teams and ties from the 2016 MGA Senior Four-Ball Championship
View results for Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball