Headline: Brendan Hunter Captures 108th Massachusetts Amateur Championship at Taconic GC: Defeats John Kelly in the Finals, 4 and 3

For Immediate Release: July 15, 2016

Brendan Hunter captured the 108th Massachusetts Amateur Championship title at Taconic GC

Williamstown, MA — Brendan Hunter (Red Tail GC) turned what he thought was an improbable into a reality.

On Friday afternoon, the 20-year-old from Groton scored the biggest win of his career by capturing the 108th Massachusetts Amateur Championship. He capped off what was a magical week of golf at Taconic Golf Club with a 4-and-3 victory over John Kelly (Twin Hills CC).

“I only brought three outfits,” said Hunter with a grin. “I was just happy to be here.”

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108th MGA Amateur Day 5 Quick Links:

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Hunter was referring to the fact that he only packed enough clothes to get him through the first two days of stroke play. After all, he had never before made match play so he assumed it would be a short week.

However, after playing the first two rounds at 2-over par 144, Hunter had to make an emergency call home to his mother because he had earned the 9th seed in match play and needed clothing reinforcements. A trip to the local Target soon became a necessity as Hunter methodically made his way through the match play bracket.

His route to the finals included victories against strong opponents such as Matt Cowgill (Wayland CC), fellow St. Thomas Aquinas College teammates Christopher Gentle (Mount Pleasant GC), Jackson Lang (Nashawtuc CC) and then Alex Jeffers (Woodland GC) in the semifinals.

That hard work earned him a spot in the 36-hole final against Kelly, who had won this event in 2014. Hunter never trailed from start to finish. But it wasn’t until the 27th hole when he was finally able to break away from Kelly.

It came on Taconic GC’s 150-yard, par 3 9th hole. Kelly’s tee shot fell short of the green, but like he had done most of the round, Kelly was able to get up and down for par. With Kelly in with a 3, Hunter stepped up and drained a 15-foot birdie putt to go 2 up.

“I didn’t drop any putts all day long in the first 26 holes,” said Hunter. “On nine, I finally got one to lip in, and it got me on a roll. It gave me a little more confidence on the greens to two putt most of them.”

On the next hole, Kelly struggled with the false-front green and it took multiple attempts to get his ball to settle on the green. On the very next hole, Kelly was in perfect position – 180 yards out from the green in the middle of the fairway – while Hunter sent his drive left and into the rough.

What appeared to be an advantage for Kelly turned into a nightmare. His approach landed in the right greenside bunker and then his third shot sailed into the bunker on the opposite side of the green. Instead of winning that hole, Kelly lost it with a double bogey.

Hunter all but sealed his first major MGA championship victory on Taconic’s 12th hole – the 30th hole of the match – when he stuck his approach to two feet. In a matter of three holes, his lead had ballooned to 5 up with just six holes remaining.

“I thought that it got away from me at 11,” said Kelly. “To make a double bogey from 180 yards in the middle of the fairway is not acceptable… I think that put him 3 up and then it was 5 up like that. I fought as best I could.”

Kelly’s remarkable short-game play kept the match close through the morning 18 holes and then for most of the afternoon tilt. He was able to get up and down from around what are some of the most challenging green complexes in the state.

“I was scrambling like a maniac all day,” said Kelly. “After that many holes, it feels like I played 200 holes… it’s a lot and trying to grind every hole takes its toll. If I had hit the ball better, it would have been a lot more relaxing, but I didn’t. That is why he won.”

Hunter remained steady down the stretch and did not allow Kelly a chance to make a comeback run. The match came to an end on the 33rd hole, which is Taconic’s picturesque par-4 15th hole. Kelly looked to have the advantage with an approach that left him with a 12-foot birdie attempt. Hunter was long and a foot off the back of the green.

Hunter chipped to a foot, while Kelly watched his last attempt burn the edge.

“That is how match play goes. You know he is going to make a little bit of a run. I had to play better, that’s all.”

For Hunter this represents a continuation of what has been the best few months of golf in his young career. This past spring, he captured his first collegiate victory for St. Thomas Aquinas College, and now he can add The Commonwealth Cup to his list of accomplishments.

“I had never made match play before,” said Hunter. “Just being here is just phenomenal.”

Phenomenal for sure and definitely no longer improbable.

Final Match - Hole-by-Hole Summaries

Weather at 8 am Tee Time: Clear Skies with temperature at 70 degrees Fahrenheit

Hole 1:
Brendan Hunter kicks off the final match with his shot that lands past the bunker on the right side of the fairway. Kelly tees off second and lands his ball in the middle of the fairway, but approximately 50 yards shorter than Hunter. Hunter’s second shot lands to the left of the bunker that abuts the green while Kelly finds the rough about 20 yards short and right of the green. Hitting three, Kelly chips up onto the green, about two feet past the cup. Kelly misses the subsequent putt. Hunter finds the green, just right of the cup and finishes the putt. Mr Hunter 4, Mr. Kelly 5. Mr. Hunter is 1 up after one hole.

Hole 2:
Both opponents hit their second shots onto the fairway equidistant from the hole and in front of the bunker that abuts the right side. The two balls are approximately 5 yards from each other left to right. Kelly takes his second shot first and kicks it to the bunker on the left side of the green. Hunter second shot rolls onto the green and back to the edge of the rough. He uses his third shot, a wedge, to knock it within a foot of the cup on the front right side. Kelly hits out of the bunker, but has too much strength behind it and the ball towers back over the green from left to right and it lands right of the cart part that sits right of the green. Kelly’s fourth shot is onto the green. Mr. Hunter 4, Mr. Kelly 5. Mr. Hunter is 2 up after two holes.

Hole 3:
Hunter lands tee shot to left of fairway and bunker onto small hill. Kelly lands his tee shot on the slight slope beyond the large oak that sits on the right side of the fairway. Kelly lands second shot on green to the right of the cup while Hunter falls into terrain between Hole No.3 and No. 4. Hunter hit third shot onto green and misses putt. Mr. Kelly 4, Mr. Hunter 5. Mr. Hunter is 1 up after three holes.

Hole 4:
Kelly and Hunter’s first shots both lay on right side of the fairway. Hunter, a tad bit shorter than his opponent, hits second shot first and gets it onto green, about 20 feet left of cup. Kelly counters and hits his ball onto the green, north of the cup. Kelly, putting on a downhill slope, has the distance but misses to the left of the cup by mere inches. Hunter too misses his first putt by one foot. Both make second putts and card fours. Mr. Hunter remains 1-up after four holes.

Hole 5:
Kelly lands his ball in the rough to the top left of the bunker that abuts the left the of the green. Hunter lands tee shot onto green, about four feet to the left of the pin. Kelly uses his pitching wedge to bring the ball within six inches of the cup on his second shot while Hunter misses his putt. Both record three’s on the par-3 and Mr. Hunter remains 1 up after five holes.

Hole 6:
Kelly hits his driver and hits the right side of the fairway equidistant with the bunker that abuts the left side. Hunter chooses iron and sits 50 yards shorter than Kelly’s tee shot. Hunter’s second shot rolls from the rough along the right side of the green down within 10 feet of the cup while Kelly’s shot lands to within seven feet of cup. The two halve with fours. Mr. Hunter remains 1 up after six holes.

Hole 7:
The pair each hit their tee shots to about 100 yards shy of the green. Hunter’s second shot lands in the bunker to the left of the green while Kelly’s bounces onto the green and spins backwards to within two feet of the pin. Hunter hits out of the bunker and across the green, to the lip on the left of the cup. Hunter can’t convert his putt. Mr. Kelly 3, Mr. Hunter 5. The match is all square after seven holes.  

Hole 8:
Both Kelly and Hunter’s shots land on fairway in front of the bunker on the right side. Both balls lie at measured 101 yards from pin. A coin toss determines that Kelly hits first. Both shots land on the green, with Kelly’s closer by a couple feet. Both are unable to convert their putts. Match is all square after eight holes.

Hole 9:
Kelly’s tee shot lies in the area below the green, shy of the bunker while Hunter’s tee shot lands on the front lip of the green. Kelly’s second shot lands north of the pin. Hunter misses his first putt and Kelly misses his first putt. Mr. Hunter 3, Mr. Kelly 4. Mr Hunter goes 1-up at the turn.

Hole 10:
Kelly’s tee shot lands just left of the fairway in the rough while Hunter’s shot is only a few feet to the right, but in the fairway. Both opponents’ second shots land in the rough to the front left of the green but atop the upward slope. Both use pitching wedges to hit onto green. Hunter lipped out his first putt and Kelly misses his subsequent chance. Mr. Hunter 6, Mr. Kelly 5. Match is all square after 10 holes.

Hole 11:
Both tee shots land in the rough on the right side about 75 yards out. Kelly lands his shot on the front edge of the green while Hunter rolls his onto the green just shy of the pin. Hunter birdies the putt and Kelly can’t counter. Hunter goes 1 up after 11 holes.

Hole 12:
Hunter drives his tee shot to center fairway 135 yards shy of the green while Kelly drives an extra five yards further and to the right, remaining on the fairway himself. Both hit second shots up onto the back left of the green. Kelly hits first with his ball about three feet further than Hunter. Kelly can’t convert the 15-foot putt as the ball rolls inches wide of the cup. Hunter is unable to take advantage. Hole is halved with fours. Mr. Hunter remains 1 up after 12 holes.

Hole 13:
Hunter hits iron off the tee while Kelly chooses to use his driver. Hunter’s ball sits middle of fairway, coming to rest on the large slope at 145 yards out. Kelly outdrives Hunter against, laying to rest 100 yards. Hunter lands up on the rough abutting the green while Kelly pitches onto it. The two halve the hole with fours and Mr. Hunter remains 1 up after 13 holes.  

Hole 14:
Hunter lands his tee shot onto the green while Kelly’s ball lands on the rough between the green and the furthest right bunker. Hunter misses his putt. Both halve the hole and Mr. Hunter remains 1 up after 14 holes.

Hole 15:
Hunter outdrives Kelly to begin the 15th, with Kelly’s shot landing in the rough on the left side and Hunter landing center fairway about 10 yards further. Hunter’s first shot lands on the green, about 50 feet away from the pin while Kelly’s second shot rolls across the green to the far edge. Despite a wedge shot that Kelly isn’t pleased with, Hunter misses his putt. The hole is halved with fours. Mr. Hunter lead remains at 1 up after 15 holes.

Hole 16:
Hunter outdrives Kelly, but lands in the rough. Kelly’s second shot is a grounder that rolls to the bottom of the slope leading to the green. Hunter carries his ball on the top of the green about 30 feet right of the cup. Hunter’s first putt rolls too far left of the cup while Kelly, putting four, fails to sink his ball. Hunter nails his three-foot putt on attempt No.2 and extends his lead to 2 up after 16 holes.  

Hole 17:
Hunter finds the bunker to the front left of the green while Kelly holds back on his swing and lands along the slope leading up to the green. Kelly chips out to within eight feet of the cup. Hunter can’t get out of the sand on his second shot and on his second attempt, lifts the ball up to about five feet north of the cup. Kelly can’t sink his first putt attempt but Hunter can’t counter. Mr. Kelly 4, Mr. Hunter 5. Mr. Hunter leads 1 up after 17.

Hole 18:
Hunter outdrives Kelly again, but lands in the rough of the fairway. Kelly’s second shot lands on the cart path that begins near the 18th green while Hunter is middle of the fairway on shot No.2.  Hunter uses an iron to hit onto the green while Kelly has to drop. Kelly follows suit and pitches the ball within five feet of the cup. Hunter misses his putt attempt. Kelly too misses his first putt attempt. The hole is halved with fives. Mr. Hunter is 1 up after 18.

Weather at 12:10 pm Tee Time: Mostly sunny with temperature at 84 degrees Fahrenheit

Hole 19 (Taconic 1):
Hunter drives tee shot to a measured 186 yards out just left of the fairway into a low rough. Kelly nearly shoots an identical distance, measured at 185, but centers it to middle of fairway. Both hit the green on their second shots with Hunter landing closer by a few feet, roughly eight feet shy of the pin. Putting struggles send the match to all square at 19 holes. Mr. Kelly 4, Mr. Hunter 5.

Hole 20 (Taconic 2):
Kelly drives his tee shot to the middle of the fairway while Hunter outpowers him on the swing, but hits a few branches to land in the rough on the right side about 50 yards ahead. Kelly’s second shot lands in the bunker on the front right of the green while Hunter lips his second shot onto the front lip of the green, enabling it to sit on the slight slope that approaches the hole. Kelly’s third shot out of the bunker lands about two feet right of the cup while Hunter doesn’t put enough oomph behind this third shot. Hunter sinks his putt shot and Kelly matches. Mr. Hunter 4, Mr. Kelly 4. The match remains all square after 20 holes.

Hole 21 (Taconic 3):
Unlike the first go around, both players tee shots land in the fairway this around. Hunter to the right about 160 yards to the green and Kelly about 145. Hunter’s second shot is a beauty, landing just north of the pin by a mere six feet while Kelly gets to the green about 20 feet to the front left of the cup. Kelly can’t clinch his first putt as it hits the edge and bounces out. Hunter too misses. Mr. Hunter 4, Mr. Kelly 4. The match remains all square after 21 holes.

Hole 22 (Taconic 4):
After driving his ball to the middle of fairway, Hunter’ second shot landed on the green about 20 feet to the back left of the cup. Kelly, hitting out of the rough after his tee shot, saw his ball reach the front of the slope to the green, but it failed to remain still and rolled back down to the bottom of the hill. Playing his ball cautiously to avoid seeing his ball roll down hill, Hunter two putts for par. Mr. Hunter 4, Mr. Kelly 6. Mr. Hunter is 1 up after 22 holes.

Hole 23 (Taconic 5):
Hunter drives his tee shot to the north of the cup while Kelly lands his south of the cup on the rough between the adjoining bunker on the left side of the bunker. Hunter can’t sink his putt for birdie and both card three’s. Mr. Hunter is 1 up after 23 holes.

Hole 24 (Taconic 6):
It only takes two shots for Hunter to get to the green and his two putts leads to an extension of the lead. Mr. Hunter 4, Mr. Kelly 5. Mr. Hunter is 2 up after 23 holes.

Hole 25 (Taconic 7):
Hunter finds some green real estate between the trees that lie to the left of the fairway. Kelly isn’t much better, finding space in the rough beyond Hunter. The 20 year old Hunter plays the hole safely, hitting out to the fairway 40 yards shy of the green. Kelly’s second shot hits on to the back of the green and rolls out to the back, setting up about a 45-foot putt. Hunter’s third shot hits the green and spins back towards the pin, settling down all off eight feet away from the cup. Hunter’s putt comes to a stop on the edge of the cup. Mr. Kelly 4, Mr. Hunter 5. Mr. Hunter is 1 up after 24 holes.

Hole 26 (Taconic 8):
Kelly’s ball land in the rough about 135 yards out while Hunter’s land mid-fairway about 10 yards closer. Kelly’s second shot lands on the green to the front left of the cup, enabling a putt of about 25 feet while Hunter’s second shot lands about five feet away. Both miss their first putts. The pair halves their holes, each with fours. The match remains Mr. Hunter 1 up after 25 holes

Hole 27 (Taconic 9)
On what is the last time both golfers play Taconic’s par-3 ninth hole, both shoot their respective balls onto the green. Kelly is the farther of the two and his putt, going right across the green towards the cup, misses by less than a foot. Hunter’s putt for birdie, an approximate eight footer, is successful. Mr. Hunter 2, Mr. Kelly 3. Mr. Hunter is 2 up after 26 holes.

Hole 28 (Taconic 10):
Hunter’s tee shot finds its way to the center of the green about halfway between the tee box and the green on the par 5. Kelly is shorter and in the rough on the right side by about 50 yards. Hunter’s second shot lands in the bunker located to the front left of the green while Kelly’s second shot is in the same remote area, laying at the end of the fairway shy of the bunker. Kelly’s third shot jumps up on the green, and despite sitting still for a minute, errantly rolls back towards the fairway and comes to rest there.  Kelly rebounds and uses his fourth shot to bring the ball within three feet of the green. Hunter gets out of the bunker and his ball lays to rest eight feet wide right of the cup. Mr. Hunter 5, Mr. Kelly 6. Mr. Hunter is 3 up after 27 holes of play.   

Hole 29 (Taconic 11):
Kelly keeps his tee shot to the middle of the green while Hunter’s ends closer to the pin but in the rough on the left side. Kelly’s second shot has too much strength behind it and it lands in the bunker on the right side of the green from approximately 150 yards out. Hunter can’t take advantage, with his ball hitting the green and rolling out into the rough beyond it. Kelly’s third shot goes from the right bunker, across the green and into the left bunker. Hunter’s wedge shot off the rough leaves a putt of about 20 feet. Kelly hits out of his second bunker and lands it about eight feet from the pin. Hunter’s putt is too strong. Kelly misses his first putt and Hunter converts his. Mr. Hunter 5, Mr. Kelly 6. Mr. Hunter is 4 up after 28 holes.

Hole 30 (Taconic 12):
Hunter’s third shot was on key, landing all of one foot from the pin, while Kelly’s escalated over the green. Kelly’s third shot does land on the green and spins back to within three feet of the pin. Kelly’s putt rings around the cup and falls in. Hunter birdies his putt. Mr. Hunter 3, Mr. Kelly 4. Mr. Hunter is 5 up after 29 holes.

Hole 31 (Taconic 13):
Hunter drives to the 150 marker while Kelly hits the rough at 145 out. Hunter’s second shot bounces on the green and rolls along the side hill to the right and comes to a stop in the rough. Kelly plays his shot safe and sets up a putt on the green. He putts for par. Mr. Kelly 4, Mr. Hunter 5. Mr. Hunter is 4 up after 30 holes.

Hole 32 (Taconic 14):
Kelly lands his tee shot within feet of the cup and right while Hunter’s shot lands on the green and rolls to the far edge. Kelly misses his putt attempt. Mr. Hunter 3. Mr. Kelly 3. Mr. Hunter is 4 up.

Hole 33 (Taconic 15):
Both Kelly and Hunter find the center fairway. Hunter at 155 yards out to Kelly’s 145. Both find the green on the second with Hunter’s rolling to the back slope and Kelly’s about five feet from the pin. Hunter uses a wedge to tap it onto the green on his third shot while Kelly attempts a putt. Kelly  misses the putt and the pair halves the hole. Mr. Hunter 4, Mr. Kelly 4. Mr. Hunter Wins the 108th Massachusetts Amateur Championship by a score of 4 and 3.    

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