Kearney takes 3-shot lead into final day of New England Sr.
Jack Kearney (MGA photo)
Jack Kearney (MGA photo)

BURLINGTON, Vt. (Sept. 18, 2018) – Fresh off a runner-up finish in last week’s Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship at Plymouth Country Club, where he fell to fellow Bay Stater Frank Vana, Jr. in a sudden-death playoff, Elmcrest Country Club’s Jack Kearney carded a 3-under 68 in the first round of the 21st NEGA Senior Amateur Championship Tuesday at Burlington Country Club. He took an early three-stroke lead over the other 119 competitors in the field.

The 63-year-old Kearney, who has five top-10 finishes in the annual event dating to 2010, tallied seven birdies and eight pars en route to his finish atop the leaderboard and will be in the final group for the second and final round.

“I’ve been struggling for quite a while with my game, and then I played pretty good at the mid-amateur,” Kearney sad after his round Tuesday. “Today, I just made a few putts, hit a couple par 5s in two, almost made a real big number on No. 6, and then after that, I had a couple birdies and chipped in. I hit the ball good and didn’t make any huge mistakes. The one mistake I did make, I was able to recover with a double.”

Kearney’s three-stroke lead led him to finish as the only competitor under par and also bested two-time reigning champion Phil Pleat (N.H.) and Gary Shover (Vt.), who each finished at even-par 71.

After making par on each of the first two holes, Kearney, who splits his residency between Massachusetts and Georgia, bounced back from a third-hole bogey before carding birdie on four of the next five holes and avoiding any further damage on the par-4 sixth hole, where he admits he found trouble and was lucky to card what he did.

Following the slight error, Kearney found a groove that ended with him making birdie on five of the final 12 holes to place himself atop the leaderboard.

“I birdied 4 and 5,” said Kearney, who also competed in the British Senior Amateur Championship earlier this summer. “I made a 15-footer [on 4] then knocked it on the par-5 [fifth hole] in two and made birdie. Then I made the big number on six. I just settled in on the back nine and played kind of normal golf on the back nine. The front nine was more up and down.”

Looking to better his 2016 performance, where he finished at T-2 by just one stroke behind New Hampshire’s Phil Pleat, who has won each of the past two New England Senior Amateur titles, Kearney started the back nine just as he did the front nine – with back-to-back pars to put him in a good position heading down the stretch.

He made birdie on the par-4 12th hole, the par-3 14th hole and finished with one final birdie on the par-5 18th hole to complete his round.

Coming off a summer where he admits he wasn’t playing his best, “shooting 80s and 77s,” Kearney adds that he is happy where he is at and hopes to continue building that as he returns tomorrow looking to secure his first career NEGA Senior title.

“It gave me a little confidence,” Kearney said regarding his T-2 finish Friday in the final round of the state mid-amateur championship. “That is all. If I can just hang in there, I can make some birdies and shoot a decent round.”

While Kearney topped the entire field, which consists of competitors aged 55 and over with a GHIN handicap index at a New England club, New Hampshire’s Bill Everett led the group of 40 competitors eyeing the Super Senior title, which recognizes the top competitor in the field aged 65 and over.

Everett, who earlier this summer won the Senior Division of the New Hampshire Invitational, finished at 1-over 72 after carding three birdies on the front nine Tuesday morning. Everett also finished with seven pars to conclude his first round.

ABOUT THE New England Senior Amateur

Entries are open to amateur golfers who will have reached their 55th birthday, hold membership in a club belonging to one of the six New England State Golf Associations and have an up-to-date USGA/GHIN Handicap Index not exceeding 9.9.

36 holes, stroke play. No cut will be made. Players 65 years of age or older will be elligible for the Super Senior Division. Both the Overall and Super Senior Divisions will compete from the same tee/yardage. Pre-qualifying required for non-exempt players.

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