Calef wins Massachusetts Mid-Amateur

POCASSET, MA (Sept 15, 2011) — It was a fitting end to an amateur career that began, ended and started again here in the Bay State for Mike Calef (Brockton CC).

Playing in his final MGA Championship event before moving to Texas later this year, the former professional player who regained his amateur status back in 2007 came through with his first career MGA Championship win on Thursday at Pocasset Golf Club.

Calef becomes the 28th winner of the Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship. He capped off his stirring victory by posting a final round of 1-under par 71 for a three-day total of 3-under par 213.

"I am ecstatic," said Calef. "I couldn't have asked for a better ending to my MGA golf career."

The script could not have been written any better for Calef. The forecast called for rain but it never came. Ryan Riley (Norton CC), who was looking for an unprecedented third MGA title in 2011, made a late run by making birdie on four of his last eight holes, but his comeback came up short and he finished T3.

Others were making a charge, but Calef remained unfazed and steady and closed out his memorable victory under sunny skies with a par - one of 15 he made on day three - to win this title by three strokes.

"I finally got one," said Calef, who advanced to the Round of 16 at the 2010 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. "All of my buddies have won State Amateurs, New England Amateurs, State Opens as amateurs... everyone has won different things and I have always been the guy who played well but didn't close the deal. Now I can say that I won something."

As Donald Ross courses so often do, Pocasset Golf Club proved to be a challenge for even the best of the best. Despite a season that did not pan out as planned, Calef somehow found a way to save his best golf for his final MGA event of the season.

"It has been such a tough year," said Calef, whose wife Alicia was recently relocated for work to McKinney, Texas. "I really thought that I could play well and do some damage this year and play well in these tournaments, but it just wasn't what happened. So I guess if good bounces and breaks are going to be saved up for one week, then that is just fine with me."

He began the final round with a birdie on the 474-yard, par 5 1st hole, made just one bogey (on the 6th hole) to make the turn at even par. He played his final 12 holes at 1- under par - which included a birdie on the 503- yard par 5 16th hole - to outlast Riley and a surging John Gilmartin (Indian Ridge CC) by four and three strokes, respectively.

Interestingly, the difference on day three came on the two holes that had caused angst for Calef during his previous 36 holes. On what are considered makeable "birdie" holes, Calef was 1-over par for the championship.

"I talked to Jay Sinkewicz before each round," said Calef of his friend who has played Pocasset Golf Club many times over the years. "I told him that I was struggling on those two holes. He told me this morning to take a different angle and go down the left side because he said that it would give me a better angle to the green. He also said that it was OK to hit over the 16th green and chip back. Those thoughts were in my mind today, and I was able to birdie those holes."

After making four bogies during his first round, Calef carded just three bogies through his final 36 holes. He also posted a tournament low 36 pars through 54 holes.

"I felt pretty good," said Calef. "I have played in enough events to know that this was a tough course and that I just needed to keep making pars and hitting greens to keep it as stressless as possible. Someone would have to catch me and that was pretty much my plan."

Although the celebration in the clubhouse after the win was jubilant, the only bitter sweet thought was that Calef won't be back in one year's time to defend his championship.

"I'll be back eventually," said Calef with a laugh. "And these guys better watch out because when I come back I'll bring my "A" game."

The round of the day was posted by Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich GC) who carded a 5- under par 67 on Thursday to finish T3 overall after starting the day T12.

That remarkable score ties the course and competitive course record at Pocasset Golf Club. The only other person who has posted a 5-under par 67 was Jason Clary  (Thorny Lea GC) back in 2004. Clary was in this year's Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship field, but did not make the cut.

While the leaders were battling to stay even for the day, Clapp was on fire by registering seven birdies, four of which came on the back nine. He made the turn at 1- under par 35 and then went on a tear on the back nine. During that nine-hole stretch, he made birdie on the 10th, 12th, 13th and 16th holes for a 4-under par 32.

Tomorrow evening, Clapp will travel to Taconic Golf Club where his former golf coach -  Tracy Mehr - will celebrate his 1971 Massachusetts Amateur Championship victory. There is no question that Mehr would be proud of the performance put on today by his former pupil.

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ABOUT THE Massachusetts Mid-Amateur

Entries are open to amateur golfers who have reached their 25th birthday by the first day of the tournament, who hold membership in an MGA member club and have an up-to-date MGA/USGA GHIN Handicap Index not exceeding 5.4, or who have completed their handicap certification as defined on the Entry Form. Competition will be in two (2) stages at Stroke Play: 18 hole qualifier; Championship Proper - 54 Holes.

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