U.S. Mid-Am Champ Parziale Takes the Hornblower in Playoff
Matt Parziale dons the jacket for the second time (Hownblower photo)
Matt Parziale dons the jacket for the second time (Hownblower photo)

PLYMOUTH, MA (June 2, 2018) - Reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Matt Parziale won the 54th Hornblower Memorial on Saturday, rolling in a 10-foot par putt on the first playoff hole at Plymouth Country Club.

Related: AmateurGolf.com Feature Interview: Matt Parziale

The firefighter from Brockton started the day three shots behind overnight leader Dave Spitz, with five players ahead of him on the leaderboard. Parziale had 17 pars and a bogey for a 70 on the par-69 course.

In the final round, Parziale again had just a single bogey, but he was able to make three birdies for a 68 that put him at even par 138 for the tournament.

Meanwhile, the leaders were backing up. Spitz could only manage a 77 and fell all the way back to a tie for 11th at 6-over 144. His brother Ben Spitz, who sat just one behind after an opening 68, put himself into prime position to win the tournament. Standing on the 36th tee with a one-shot lead, Spitz drove into the trees left, got back into play, and then missed a short putt that would have put him into a playoff. Spitz finished with a 71 for a 139 total and a third place finish.

Ryan Tombs, the only other player to break par in round one, struggled to a 75 and finished 10th at 5-over 143.

Of the five players who shot par or better on Friday, only Jonathan Stoddard was able to back it up on Saturday. Stoddard, a Plymouth Country Club member from Duxbury, didn't look at a leaderboard all day, posted a second-straight 69, and was pleasantly surprised to find himself in a playoff with Parziale.

On the first playoff hole, Stoddard missed the green and left himself with an 8-foot par putt. Parziale, who was safely on the green in two, gunned his 30-foot birdie putt past the hole, and in fact was still away. But he calmly rolled in his 10-footer, putting all the pressure back onto his opponent. When Stoddard's par putt slipped by, Parziale was the champion.

It was the second Hornblower win for Parziale, who first won in 2007 as a college player for Southeastern University.

He will take his momentum into his next event, the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, taking advantage of the exemption that the USGA has given him as the U.S. Mid-Amateur champion.

“Playing Matt Parziale in a playoff was fun, but I got to admit, it was pretty intimidating,” said Stoddard to Jay Miller of the Patriot Ledger. “It was cool to get into the playoff of course, and have a chance to win. And, if I have to lose to anyone, I’ll take losing to the guy who’s playing in the U.S. Open next week, anytime.”

“I had a good game plan and I stuck to it this weekend,” said Parziale to Miller. “When I first won this 11 years ago I was still in college, so everything changes and I’m sure I’m a different player now. But I have always liked the competition here in this tournament. I didn’t know Jonathan Stoddard before today, but he is a great kid and played really well today.”

Going into the tournament, the buzz surrounded the first two women to ever play in the Hornblower: recent Georgetown graduate and Big East champion Jacquelyne Eleey, and former U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up Shannon Johnson. Playing from the same tees as the men, both players competed admirably but ultimately fell short of the cut of 5-over 74.

Related: Eleey, Johnson the 1st Women Ever to Play in the Hornblower

“Playing with the guys was fun,” said Eleey to the Patriot Ledger. “It’s an honor for Shannon and I to be the first.”

“This is an awesome opportunity to play in a men’s tournament, against a very elite field,” said Johnson. “I played pretty well, and was just 1-over after six holes, but then I double-bogeyed the seventh hole, and hit a stretch of bogeys. But it’s all right: the rain held off, the wind was pretty calm for the most part, and it was a perfect day for golf.”

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ABOUT THE Hornblower Memorial Invitational

Long running amateur invitational tournament named for Plymouth Country Club "Benefactor" Henry Hornblower who collaborated with the now defunct Pilgrim Hotel to create what is now Plymouth Country Club.

Style of play: 36 hole stroke play – field cut to low 60 players and ties after 1st round. Handicap required: GHIN index of 3.0 or lower. The Hornblower Committee will be responsible for acceptance or rejection of all entries.

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