Headline: Doug Clapp and Andy Drohen Hold One-Stroke Lead Over The Field Following Day One of 2013 Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship
For Immediate Release: May 14, 2013
Clapp (left) and Drohen - shown here in 2012 - carded a 6-under par 63 at Pawtucket Country Club.
Seekonk, MA — The temperatures were cool but the scores were red hot during the first round of the 2013 Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship, which is being held this week at Pawtucket Country Club and Ledgemont Country Club.
Following day one, the team of Andy Drohen (The Ranch GC) and Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich GC) stand atop a leaderboard that includes 39 teams that posted under-par rounds on Tuesday.
"We both played it the other day and we came off thinking that it was the kind of golf course that if you drove it well you could have a lot of chances," said Clapp. "Neither of us hit it fantastic, but we were both fairly steady and there was probably only one instance where both of us were left with tough pitches that we had to work hard to get up and down."
Drohen and Clapp carded a 6-under par 63 at Pawtucket Country Club and currently hold a one-stroke lead over four teams.
Round 1 Highlights
"We hammed and egged it out there well today," said Drohen. "When one guy was out the other guy came through."
Their start was certainly a sign of what was to come.
Drohen sent his 6-iron approach from 175 yards out on the 435-yard, par 4 10th hole to a foot for an easy birdie. Two holes later, Clapp took full advantage of the contours of the green by hitting his approach short and letting it roll into the trough of the green. When they arrived at the green, they found it sitting just three feet from the hole.
"It's always nice when you don't have to shake over a 10 footer on the first hole," said Drohen. "It was an easy kick in and the Doug hit his 3 wood to three feet on the 12th hole so we made two quick birdies on two tough holes."
On the 170-yard, par 3 15th hole, Clapp hit his wedge to four feet. Drohen capped off that first nine holes with a wedge shot on the 379-yard, par 4 18th hole that rolled to a stop three feet from the flagstick.
"I hit it close a couple of times and he hit it close on the very first hole which is always a nice start," said Clapp. "I would say that half of our birdies were short putts inside of five feet."
With Drohen making key pars, Clapp took full advantage of a hot putter to help them secure the top spot on the leaderboard through the final nine holes of the day.
"We had six in our mind as an absolute minimum," said Clapp of their desired score. "I still think that 59 is out there because the greens are nice and if you drive it well you will give yourself a lot of chances and you could get on a roll."
On the 379-yard, par 4 3rd hole, Clapp landed his gap wedge to 10 feet and rolled in the birdie putt. He then drained a 20-foot birdie putt on the 414-yard, par 4 6th hole.
The leading score could have been even better had Clapp’s putt not rolled in and out on the 7th hole and had the team taken advantage of the course’s lone par 5 hole (#8).
"For the most part we aren’t scoreboard watchers," said Drohen. "We just want to go out there and play our game which is to get two putts on the green and not to do anything stupid. Hopefully we will get a few breaks tomorrow and we'll see what happens."
While they have played in this event together many years before, their friendship has endured even longer which has helped them compete well year-in and year-out. Their best finish to date has been fifth place which they posted in 2009 and 2011.
"We talked last night and made sure we were on the same page," said Clapp, who enjoyed having Drohen as a houseguest last night. "It was about a 30-second conversation about who wants to putt and play first. After that it is all about playing a round of golf together which we do 20 times a year together. We have a high comfort level with each other."
The true challenge comes tomorrow when Clapp and Drohen will have to fend off a handful of teams sitting right behind them on the leaderboard plus scores more who might have that magical day which makes all the difference in four-ball play.
"The game plan is to try and get off to a good start," said Clapp. "In these events you have to find a little bit of a roll. You need two guys in the fairway and two guys on the green and then you have to make some putts. We don’t have to shoot 10 under or some crazy number to win, but we will have to get off to a great start and go from there."
Today marks a first for a pair of brothers who have traveled far and wide thanks to the great game of golf. Richy Werenski (Orchards GC) and Mickey Werenski (Orchards GC) are playing in their first-ever Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship together this week.
They made the most of their debut as they were one of the four teams to card a 5-under par 64 at Pawtucket Country Club. Normally at this time of the year, the Werenski brothers are still at school or out of town competing in national events. For the first time, however, their schedules matched up perfectly and they were able to compete in an MGA Championship Proper as a team.
"We have been playing together the last week since we have been home," said Richy, whose father Richard suggested that they team up for this week’s event. "We are both playing good, so if we can put it together and get into a groove we could go seriously low."
Earlier this month, Richy returned home after another successful golf season at Georgia Tech. Mickey, meanwhile, will join his brother in the collegiate ranks next fall when he attends Texas A&M University.
"We are usually off playing other tournaments," said Mickey. "When we are both home, it is usually for only a day or two and then somebody leaves so it’s not often that we are together for more than a week."
After Mickey began the day with a par on the 10th hole, Ricky helped his team make a move by making birdie on the 11th, 14th and 15th holes to allow them to make the turn at 3-under par 31.
Through the final nine holes, the brothers combined to make key pars before Mickey carded his first birdie – on the 414-yard, par 4 6th hole after his approach hit the flagstick. Richy capped off the bogey-free round with a birdie on the 542-yard, par 5 8th hole and then a key nine-foot par putt on the team’s final hole.
"Off the tee he was really good," said Richy, who noted that neither player had a chance to play a practice round at either facility. "I was left or right the whole day so it felt as if we were scrambling and a little wayward today. We really felt like we got our bad round out of the way today."
The lead group is feeling serious pressure from the teams right behind them. Included in that impressive list are past champions who have four titles between the two of them.
Herbie Aikens (Pinehills GC) and Ryan Riley (Sharon CC) won this event in 2009, 2010 and 2011, while Brian Higgins (Franklin CC) and Brad Stewart (Franklin CC) captured the title in 2008. All four players know a bit about what it takes to win this prestigious title.
"If you are driving it well it was there for the taking but if you are off a bit it can be a difficult golf course," said Higgins, the 2010 Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year. "Coming out of the rough to some of the pins was tough so you had to hit it well today."
Stewart got his team started with his first birdie of the day on the 308-yard, par 4 11th hole (they started on the 10th tee) and then Higgins added a birdie on the 375-yard, par 4 14th hole to make the turn at 2-under par 32.
"If you were in the right spot to hit the putts the greens were rolling very nice," said Stewart. "If you get into the wrong place where you have to play too much break then it’s a challenge. If you hit the fairways and you have a good look at the pins there are some low scores to be had."
On the team’s back nine, Stewart came through with key shots including two laser iron shots on the 188-yard, par 3 5th and 173-yard, par 3 7th holes to one and three feet, respectively.
"We got up and down and we covered each other when the other person was out of the hole," said Stewart. "I got a few in close on the par 3s on the back and wiggled those in, but other than that it was about us making a lot of good pars where we probably didn’t deserve it."
Matching that impressive score was Aikens and Riley, who are looking to re-capture the title they won three straight years.
Unfortunately they did not enjoy the best of starts. After starting on the back nine, they made par on the 10th hole, missed what they both felt was a “birdie hole” on 11 and then made bogey on the 12th hole to be 1-over par through three holes.
"We got off to a bad start," said Aikens. "I hit it real close on the [13th hole] and that got us going and then we started chipping away."
Following Aiken’s stellar shot on the 186-yard, par 3 13th hole, the team would not make another bogey. In fact, they made birdie on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes to put them back into the mix and make the turn at 3-under par 31. Highlights from that stretch of golf included Aikens making a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole and Riley draining a nine-foot putt on the 18th green.
"The rough was thick and I drove it in the rough all day and was scrambling a lot," said Riley, the 2011 Massachusetts Amateur Champion. "But if you can get it below the hole the greens are really true and a good speed to make putts."
Aikens and Riley held it together nicely on the course’s front nine as they posted birdies on the 389-yard, par 4 1st and the 542-yard, par 5 8th holes to cap off a round that puts them into contention for the title once again.
"We were able to save pars when we needed to and then made a few coming in," said Riley.
The only other team in the field to match that score of 5-under par 64 was Taylor Fontaine (Cohasse CC) and John Kelly (Twin Hills CC). On the day, Fontaine finished with five birdies – three of them coming on the front nine – while Kelly notched a birdie on the 432-yard, par 4 16th hole.
The executive director of The First Tee of Massachusetts (TFTM) took the morning off to show off some of his skills on the golf course.
Joe McCabe (Norfolk GC), who runs what is considered one of the most successful and growing junior golf development programs in the Bay State, partnered with friend Marty Burke (MGA Links) and finished with a score of 2-under par 67 at Pawtucket Country Club. McCabe and Burke finished off their round in dominating fashion by making birdie on their final three holes.
While McCabe’s golf game has always been sharp (he was a four-year golf all-star at Dedham High School who went on to attend the College at Holy Cross), McCabe is best known for his pioneering role with the MGA’s junior golf program.
Under McCabe’s direction, The First Tee of Massachusetts program is celebrating its 10th year of operation in 2013. Over the past decade, more than 65,000 Bay State youth - ages 5-18 - have participated in The First Tee curriculum. Programming is offered at the four TFTM sites (Norton, Lynnfield, Springfield and Hyannis) and through the National School Program, which brings the game of golf and its inherent values to physical education programs.
"The First Tee programming teaches important values that can positively impact the lives of all who play golf, especially children," says McCabe. "Our offerings for youth have really taken off in recent years, and we plan to further expand our reach in the coming years."
Also competing today was Connor Hayes (MGA Links), who serves as the community outreach coordinator at MGA Links, the 18-hole, par 3 golf course was purchased in 2003 by the MGA to serve as headquarters for TFTM and the MGA’s other junior programs.
On this day, Hayes and his father Joe Hayes (MGA Links) posted a score of 2-under par 67 at Pawtucket Country Club.
CLICK HERE to learn more about TFTM.