Zachary Miller (Mass Golf photo)
Prior to the Amateur Public Links Championship this week, Zachary Miller hadn’t played a Mass Golf event in eight years.
He came in with modest expectations as a result, but found himself walking off the course on Thursday as the 41st Publinx Champion after shooting the lowest score of the championship during the second round.
“Pretty much at a loss for words,” Miller said. “I definitely was not expecting this coming into the week, but it’s definitely a great feeling.”
Miller came into the final round in 15th place, but quickly moved up the standings after three birdies on his front nine gave him a 33 as he made the turn. Back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes launched him into a tie for first place, and he stayed there with another birdie on hole 16. However, he didn’t quite get the ending he hoped to his round after having a tricky trip to the 17th and 18th holes.
“Nothing was too crazy today, just kind of on cruise control up until probably 17 and got a little squirrely,” Miller said. “Got myself into some tough positions but snuck out of there only 1 over par, had to make a tough up-and-down for bogey on 18 so I was starting to feel it a little bit toward the end there, but definitely a good feeling to kind of stick to it and finish fairly strong.”
As one of the earlier leaders to conclude his round, Miller had a long wait to see whether his score — a 1-under 139 — would hold up.
“It’s a grind,” Miller said. “I was waiting for someone to make a birdie on 18 and put me out of my misery, but it kind of turned out people were struggling on 18 kind of like I did. So it was nice to finally see the last group come in and be on top.”
Miller, who recently moved back to Massachusetts after playing golf at Ohio Wesleyan University, said he was happy to return to playing in Mass Golf championships and hopes to continue getting back into competitive golf in the Bay State.
The South Boston native was cheered on by several young Sandy Burr golf campers as he received his champion’s plaque.
Michael Pergamo (George Wright Golf Course) wasn’t supposed to be playing in the Amateur Public Links Championship. However, Pergamo, an alternate, decided to come on site on Wednesday to see what would happen — leading to a championship berth when a spot in the field opened up.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I mean, up until 6 a.m. yesterday, I wasn’t in the field, so I was just happy to be out here getting in as an alternate. I live only 30 minutes away and I played Sandy a bunch of times so I was excited to be out here.”
Pergamo shot a 1-over 71 during the first round, tying him for 15th. He dialed it up even more to start the second round on Thursday, making three birdies on his first four holes to propel himself to the top of the leaderboard. Pergamo’s 33 on the front nine was the second-lowest of the afternoon, one stroke back of Jonathan Hill‘s (Granite Links Golf Club) 32. After Pergamo bogeyed the 12th hole, he made consecutive birdies on holes 13 and 14 to take the No. 1 spot alongside Liam Gill (Highfields Golf & Country Club), the Round 1 leader, and Nick LeBlanc (Wayland Country Club).
Though his final score of an even-par 140 wasn’t enough to take home the title, the former Rollins College golfer was pleased with his performance in his return to competition after taking a year off from the sport.
“I’m excited to keep competing out here and I mean, this shows I’m close and got the ability to do it and excited to get it done in the future,” Pergamo said.
Pergamo played alongside fellow runner-up LeBlanc, a Wayland native. LeBlanc, who is in just his second year of competitive golf, shot a relatively error-free round on Thursday, carding four birdies and shooting above par on only two holes.
“It was good,” LeBlanc said. “I played so good all day and to not make a bogey until 16 was really good. And I didn’t know where I was, but I knew I was probably close and I had my dad out there being like, “Oh, keep going, keep going.” So I knew it was close. And I told Aidan, my caddy, I had so much fun today after 15 I was like, whatever happens, I was just having a good time, we’re playing so good.”
LeBlanc said that playing with Pergamo, who he knew was also in the hunt, motivated him to keep pushing as they went down the stretch.
“I knew Mike, who I was playing with, we were kind of head-to-head, so I knew if I was close to it, he was in it, so he was making putts and making birdies and I was just like, if I can just stay with him, I’m probably doing fine,” he said.
He added that his success in the Amateur Public Links gave him a confidence boost as he looks toward more competitions in the future.
“It’s always tough, even the qualifiers for me are so hard because you show up you and hope you have it that day, and I would say it’s probably harder to make it than it is once you get there,” LeBlanc said. “But when I was playing today, especially I was really cruising and it was nice to just feel like like okay, I can do it. You’re just kind of there, you just got to get used to it and I think if I just keep doing it eventually it’ll kind of work out in my favor.”
One of the biggest turnarounds of the afternoon came from the third second-place finisher Daniel Falcucci (Cyprian Keyes Golf Club), who shot a 2-over 72 on Wednesday but improved to even-par overall with a 2-under 68 on Thursday. Falcucci didn’t record a bogey all day, making birdie on holes 15 and 16 to match Miller for the lowest score of the round and championship. It was the fifth all-time runner-up medal for Falcucci, who jokingly held up five fingers as he posed for a photo with his runner-up medal.View results for Massachusetts PubLinks
ABOUT THE Massachusetts PubLinks
Entries are open to amateur golfers who are bona
fide public course players at a public MGA member
club (a course/club that provides playing
opportunities for the general public seven days a
maintain an up-to-date MGA/GHIN Handicap Index
not exceeding 12.0. Players who have playing
privileges or who have an established handicap at
any private club are ineligible, with the exception
a) Players competing on a school golf team,
provided those privileges are limited to scheduled
practices and competitions; or
b) Players employed by a private club, provided
their playing privileges
I. Are limited in nature;
II. Are consistent with those offered other
III. Do not allow participation in any club
IV. No handicap is maintained at the private club.
The competition will be stroke play with 18 hole
qualifier and the Championship proper at 36
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