2017 Mass. Am winner Matt Parziale (MGA photo)
NEWTON, Mass. (July 14, 2017) — Newton, MA — Nine years have passed since Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) competed in the final match of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship.
He lost in 2008. He won in 2017.
After Parziale raised The Massachusetts Cup high on Friday afternoon following an impressive 4 and 3 victory over Matt Cowgill (Wayland CC) at Charles River Country Club, he took a moment to reflect on the journey that has led him to earn the most prestigious amateur title that any Bay State golfer could ever win.
“I wasn’t as tired then,” said 30-year-old Parziale with a laugh. “That was only my second State Amateur. I didn’t even expect to make the finals that year. I was just happy to make match play, and then I found myself in the finals. I was so close and it takes so long to get back I almost took it for granted the first time. This time is special.”
As a result of his performance this week, Parziale’s name will now appear alongside the game’s greatest players. Hall of Famers such as Donald Ross, Francis Ouimet, Fred Wright, Ted Bishop and Frank Vana, Jr. will now be joined by the name of Matt Parziale.
“There is a lot to think about,” said Parziale, who also becomes the first competitor since Vana in 2004 to capture this title as the reigning Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year. “I look at the names of the guys who have won it before, and I am finally able to join them.”
On this day, Parziale made a statement early against Cowgill, who at the age of 21 was making his second appearance in match play. The Brockton native played 1-under par golf through his first 10 holes, hit every green in regulation on the front nine and held a 5-up advantage through 18 holes.
“It was discouraging to fall back that much that fast,” said Cowgill. “But there was so much golf today with 36 holes that I wasn’t too nervous, but it just made it really difficult for me to get back into it. Those holes that I got back later on I was hoping that they would get me back to even instead they got to me 3 and 4. It was too many dropped holes at the beginning.”
Following a brief lunch break, Parziale made a move that defined the match and set the stage for his eventual victory.
His second shot from 239 yards out on the 542-yard, par 5 2nd hole (the 20th hole of the match) hit the flagstick and settled inches from the hole. It brought back memories of Parziale’s first albatross in competition … one that he made nearly two years ago en route to a record-breaking victory at the 2015 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship held at Marlborough Country Club.
“That was crazy,” said Parziale. “I was proud to hit some good shots down the stretch like I did here.”
Following the almost albatross shot, Parziale matched Cowgill's birdie on the very next hole and then sent a laser iron shot within feet on the 155-yard, par 3 4th hole to extend his lead to 7 up.
“He definitely took advantage of those holes in the beginning,” said Cowgill. “I was trying to do exactly what he did. I just couldn’t get going early enough. That is key to take advantage of those holes in the beginning. There are plenty of birdie holes out there after, but I just couldn’t get them to go.”
Cowgill did his best to keep pace and played 2-under par golf through the 15 afternoon holes, but Parziale always seemed to have an answer. On three occassions when Cowgill made birdie during the second half of the match, Parziale either matched or beat him.
“When you make birdie you are thinking that you will probably win the hole and when he still has the honor on the next tee it stinks,” said Cowgill. “It just makes it really tough to get back into it, but those weren’t the holes that cost me I think. It was the holes that I let him win with pars. That was the difference.”
Although the end result was not what he had hoped for, this week marks the best finish for Cowgill in this event. And if the future was to be told now, there is much light ahead for the rising senior at James Madison University. After all, Cowgill - at the age of 21 – is almost exactly the same age as Parziale was when he made his finals debut in 2008.
“He is awesome,” said Parziale. “He hits it straight and putts it really well. He has really good control of his shots and is just a really good player.”
But on this day, all the glory belonged to the 30-year-old Parziale who can - after nine years - finally call himself a Massachusetts Amateur Champion.
(THURSDAY, July 13, 2017) -- Following what might have been the longest – and perhaps the coldest – day in Massachusetts Amateur Championship history, the finalists have finally been determined.
Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) and Matt Cowgill (Wayland CC) completed a combined 86 holes of golf on Thursday. They won a combined six matches and as a result have secured their spot in Friday’s 36-hole final match.
“I am exhausted,” said Parziale, who put on a rain jacket midway through the round as temperatures dropped into the low 60s with consistent cloud cover. “They said that I played 47 and a half holes. It was a long day, and I had nothing left at the end.”
For Parziale tomorrow represents a second career finals appearance (his first was in 2008), while Cowgill will be making his finals debut.
“I am super excited and just trying to relax,” said Cowgill, a rising senior at James Madison University. “I don’t know what game I am going to have tomorrow, but I am excited. I have never had that much success in match play, but I like where my game is right now.”
All facets of each competitor’s game have been tested this week including endurance on Thursday. Parziale logged a total of 48 holes, while Cowgill – who has carried his own bag all week – completed 38 holes.
“I was pretty tired today, but I have done this before for this tournament so you kind of expect it,” said Parziale, the reigning Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year. “I wish that I could have played better coming in, but it was enough on the 19th hole there.”
Here is a summary of how each finalist took that important next step towards having their named carved on The Commonwealth Cup.
SEMIFINAL MATCH SUMMARIES
Match #1: Matt Cowgill (Wayland CC) def. Billy Walthouse (Longmeadow CC), 19 holesIn a semifinal match in which the lead didn’t extend beyond 2 up, Cowgill prevailed in 19 Holes. Walthouse got out to an early lead and was 2 up through four holes, but Cowgill held in and got the match back to all square by the 10th hole and took his first lead when he made birdie on the 225 yard par-3 11th hole. Cowgill’s lead extended to as many as 2 up on the back nine, but as he has done before, Walthouse made back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th holes before a Cowgill bogey on 17th hole set the match all square as the two approached 18. On the 19th hole, Cowgill was onto the green in two and two putted after Walthouse missed his shot for par, enabling him to win the hole and advance to Friday’s Championship match.
Match #2: Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) def. Jackson Lang (Nashawtuc CC), 19 holesParziale made birdie on three of his first four holes. Lang made just one birdie and three bogies through his first eight holes and was 4 down at that point of the match. Lang made par on the 9th hole to draw within three at the turn. Parziale opened the door of opportunity for Lang beginning on the 9th hole. He made five straight bogies, and by the 14th hole Parziale held just a 1-up lead. A birdie by Parziale on the 15th hole gave him a 2-up cushion, but Lang went on to win the 17th and 18th holes to force extra holes. On the first extra hole, both players reached the green in two but Lang suffered a three putt to fall by a score of 19 holes.
QUARTERFINAL MATCH SUMMARIES
Match #1: Billy Walthouse (Longmeadow CC) def. Cody Booska (CC of Greenfield), 2 and 1Through the first five holes, Walthouse was able to gain a 1-up advantage on two occasions but Booska was able to keep the match all square with a key par on the 7th hole. Walthouse carded double bogies on the 8th and 9th holes and was 2 up at the turn. The largest advantage that Booska held was 3 up through 10 holes, but Walthouse stormed back and played his final seven holes at 3-under par to secure the victory.
Match #2: Matt Cowgill (Wayland CC) def. David Spitz (South Shore CC), 2 upCowgill got off to a hot start by making eagle and two birdies through his first four holes. Despite his start, Spitz was just 2 down. With Cowgill holding a 3-up advantage, Spitz cut into the lead with a birdie on the 8th hole and then a par on the 10th hole. The match would eventually get to all square and stay that way through the 14th hole. Cowgill would regain control on the 16th hole. He made birdie on the 16th and 17th holes and eventually closed out the match on the 18th hole with a par.
Match #3: Jackson Lang (Nashawtuc CC) def. Nick Maccario (Bradford CC), 2 upMaccario made two birdies on the front nine and held a 1-up lead at the turn as Lang was only able to post one birdie during that stretch. Maccario extended his lead to 2 up through 10 holes, but Lang made birdie on four of his next six holes to square the match through 16 holes. Maccario carded bogey on the 17th and 18th holes which secured the win for Lang.
Match #4: Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) def. Mark Turner (Bass Rocks GC), 1 upParziale began the match by making birdie on his first three holes and four of his first seven holes. He was 2 up through seven holes, but then saw the match fall to all square by making double bogey and bogey on the next two holes. Turner would make bogey on the 10th and 11th holes, and then Parziale extended his lead to 3 up following birdies made on the 13th and 15th holes. Parziale would give one back with a bogey on the 17th hole, but he would win the match with matching pars on 18.
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