Headline: Andy Drohen Shoots 5-under par 65; Sets the Stage for a Fairy Tale Comeback at The Country Club in July
For Immediate Release: June 8, 2009
Norton, MA On a day when more than 100 players were vying for just 16 qualifying spots and a chance to compete in next month's Massachusetts Amateur Championship at The Country Club, one player stole the show.
The day played out as if a screenwriter was busy behind the scenes penning the script. The plot line was simple: a former champion who lost his game for the better part of two years storms back to post a record score and earn a chance to reclaim his title at the very same course where he once raised The Massachusetts Cup.
The protagonist today was Andy Drohen (Crestview CC), a golfer who is well known and well liked in Bay State golfing circles. The Granville resident was one of 37 players who took to Cohasse Country Club this morning to take part in qualifying for the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, which will be held on July 13-17 at The Country Club. His score of 5-under par 65 was not only six strokes better than any other player in the field but it was no doubt a warning to all players competing in the MGA Championship next month.
Many may recall back in 2003 when Drohen – a relative unknown at the time – came through with a fairy-tale victory at the Massachusetts Amateur Championship held at The Country Club. Drohen delivered one of the greatest upsets in Massachusetts amateur golf history when he defeated then reigning Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough CC) in the final match. The victory was made even more special given that fact that when he was a young boy Drohen served as a caddie on the same Brookline layout.
His story mirrored that of a young Brookline caddie named Francis Ouimet who went on to capture the U.S. Open Championship. For Drohen, the victory in 2003 led to many more great moments as he was victorious at the 2004 Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship with younger brother Bill Drohen (Bradford CC), 2004 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship and he competed for Team Massachusetts at the Tri-State Team Matches.
What happened after that was not part of the fairy tale that began in Brookline. Drohen suffered problems with his swing and lost his momentum on the golf course. Instead of vying for top spots in tournaments, Drohen was struggling to make cuts and even – at times – break 80.
"It has been tough the last couple of years with the swing change," said Drohen. "I was real close to not playing again, but I once read a quote that said failure is quitting too early. I kept thinking of that quote through everything."
The dramatic change in his game was nothing more than Drohen simply wanting to take his game to the next level. After achieving so much success on the local level, Drohen wanted to push himself even more.
"I played with Austin Eaton in one of the practice rounds at the U.S. Mid-Amateur and I beat him… that was the same year he won the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship and earned a trip to the Masters," explained Drohen. "I thought that if he can do, I can too. I then tried to get to where I could hit a fade and tried to make a swing change to get to the next level. I thought that I could play at the national level and it just went bad."
Drohen tried everything to fix his wrongs. He worked with several different coaches – including Shawn Hester – who has worked with scores of top players including the PGA Tour's James Driscoll – and The Harmon Club's Tom Cavicchi. Nothing seemed to work.
"If I hit a couple of bad shots in a round, I would go back to my old swing and was caught in no man's land," said Drohen. "I was sitting over the ball and I didn't want to swing. It was ugly out there. After last season, I put the clubs down and tried to clean out the brain."
In fact, bad went to worse and Drohen begin to think that perhaps his golf career was over. It was not until Drohen listened to his good friend Doug Parigian when he began to see a real difference.
"I got totally out of whack and lost confidence but [Doug] changed my grip and got me closer to the ball to get rid of the snap hooks," said Drohen. "Doug put me all back together."
This year is a new beginning for Drohen. Now that the exempt status earned from past successes in MGA events has expired, Drohen was forced to qualify with the masses and earn a spot back in Championship Proper.
He has – just like he has done in the past – met the challenge face on. So far this year, Drohen has emerged as one of the stronger amateur players. In the face of inclement weather, he fired an even par 69 during the first day of the Hornblower Invitational to claim first-round top honors. Although the second day did not play out as planned – Drohen shot a disappointing 11-over par 80 – Drohen's game is slowly getting back to where it was years ago.
"I asked Doug [Parigian] to come to the Hornblower and he didn't help me until after the second round," said Drohen, who just last month qualified to compete in the Massachusetts Open Championship scheduled for June 22-24 at Belmont Country Club. "After it was over, we went back out and played [holes 1 and 2 at Plymouth Country Club]. He helped me to get dialed back in and got my eight steps in the pre-shot routine together. I have the eight steps written down and it was in my bag today."
On this day at qualifying his game was as sharp as ever. After a solid front nine that included two birdies and one bogey, Drohen exploded by making birdie on four of his final seven holes. Two of those birdies came on Cohasse Country Club's back-to-back par 3s which means that Drohen was shooting targets while everyone else in the field was looking to simply hit greens. To wit, the second qualifier at that site – Matthew Linde (The Harmon Club) – finished with a 1-over par 71... six shots back of Drohen.
One of the keys to today's round was putting – a tried and true friend that has not left Drohen even during the darkest of days.
"The putting has always been good," said Drohen. "If my putting went, I probably wouldn't be playing anymore. Knock on wood I didn't lose the putting through all of this mess. I always felt that if you could put me into the middle of the fairway, I would be ok."
During his spectacular round today, Drohen registered just 28 putts on his round including a 15 footer for birdie on the 13th hole and a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole.
This year's trip to The Country Club will be made that much sweeter given the fact that his younger brother Bill Drohen, who recently returned to action after reconstructive shoulder surgery, qualified for the same event just one week earlier. Back in 2003, Bill Drohen failed to make the final field and ended up serving as Andy's caddie.
"I was putting pressure on myself which was good to see that I could work under pressure," said Drohen of having to qualify this year. "I didn't want to leave any doubt out there. I wanted to get back [to The County Club] after the last time and how things unfolded then."
Another motivating factor was that he didn't want to have to return the favor and carry his younger brother's bag.
"I didn't want to be on Mr. Daddy's bag on Monday and Tuesday," said Drohen referring to his brother who is expecting his first child in October. "I was thinking a lot about that heading into today. I was thinking even par would do it and then I started making some birdies."
With one chapter of the fairy tale comeback now complete, Drohen is looking forward to the finale which will hopefully land him atop the podium at the Massachusetts Amateur Championship for the second time in six years.
While Drohen was tearing up the course in Southbridge, more than 70 players competed for 11 qualifying spots at Stow Acres Country Club. Leading the charge at that site was Ken Gys (Mount Pleasant GC), who carded a medalist score of 2-under par 70. Gys was one of only two players to break par. Dan White (Vesper CC) posted a 1-under par 71 to claim second place overall.
Gys, the 43 year old from Dracut, made two birdies through his first nine holes and held on down the stretch by making five pars, two birdies and two bogeys to cap off his 2-under par round and earn a ticket to The Country Club next month. Gys is no stranger to competitive golf as he was the 2005 Lowell City Golf Tournament champion. He also – just one year ago – advanced to the Round of 16 at the Massachusetts Amateur Championship where he was defeated by eventual champion John Hadges (Thorny Lea GC) in a tight 2 & 1 battle at The Kittansett Club. If he advances to Match Play again this year, it will mark the third straight season that the 1983 Lowell High School graduate has made it into Match Play at the historic MGA event.
Also qualifying in Stow was Anthony Dilisio (Salem CC), who partnered with his father Dana to capture the 2007 Massachusetts Father & Son Championship. Dilisio, who just last month qualified to compete in the Massachusetts Open Championship, finished today's round with a score of 3-over par 75.
2009 Massachusetts Amateur Qualifying
Monday, June 08, 2009
Cohasse Country Club (Southbridge, MA)
Par 70 (35-35)
1) Andy Drohen (Crestview CC) 34-31--65
2) Matthew Linde (The Harmon Club) 35-36--71
T3) Kevin Velardo (CC of Billerica) 38-34--72
T3) Benjamin Bridgeo (Cohasse CC) 36-36--72
T3) Cy Kilgore (Tedesco CC) 35-37--72
1st) Scott Guild (MGA Links at Mamantapett) 36-37--73
2nd) Thomas Berg (Wachusett CC) 38-35--73
2009 Massachusetts Amateur Qualifying
Monday, June 08, 2009
Stow Acres Country Club (Stow, MA)
Par 72 (36-36)
1) Ken Gys (Mount Pleasant GC) 36-34--70
2) Dan White (Vesper CC) 34-37--71
T3) Josh Savel (Nashawtuc CC) 34-39--73
T3) Brandon Parker (Blackstone National GC) 37-36--73
T3) Alex Daley (Marlborough CC) 38-35--73
T6) Jeffrey Santora (Pleasant Valley CC) 35-39--74
T6) Mark O'Sullivan (The International GC) 36-38--74
T8) Paul Heffernan, Jr. (Charles River CC) 36-39--75
T8) Paul Dellechiaie (Westminster CC) 36-39--75
T8) Anthony Dilisio (Salem CC) 35-40--75
T8) Christopher Quinn (Worcester CC) 35-40--75
1st) Alex Stimpson (Woods Hole GC) 37-38--75
2nd) Carter Fasick (Indian Meadows GC) 37-39--76