Headline: A Historic Ceremonial First Drive and a Hole In One Highlight Day One of the 109th Massachusetts Amateur Championship

For Immediate Release: July 10, 2017

It was a historic first day at the 109th MGA Amateur Championship.

Steven DiLisio (above) captured a share of the overall lead thanks to hole in one, while two-time past champion James Driscoll (below) kicked off the festivities with a ceremonial first drive at Charles River Country Club.

Newton, MA — Winning championships takes a lot of skill and a little bit of luck, and Steven DiLisio (Salem CC) had both during the first day of the 109th Massachusetts Amateur Championship, which is being held this week – over a five-day period – at Charles River Country Club.

On this day, DiLisio, a 19-year-old rising sophomore at Duke University, made a hole in one on the 177-yard, par 3 14th hole to highlight a day-low score of 1-under par 69. Following the first round of play, DiLisio finds himself tied for the overall lead with Herbie Aikens (Pinehills GC).

-------------------------

109th MGA Amateur Quick Links

-------------------------

“I felt like I played pretty smart out there and made a lot of good tee shots that set me up for some easier shots into the greens,” said DiLisio, who won five Massachusetts Junior Amateur divisional titles over five years from 2009 to 2013. “If you get on the wrong side on these greens it can get ugly. I felt like it was a solid start, and that I left some out there. I had some sketchy short irons that might be 10 or 15 feet but on the wrong side so you end up having to play defense. I would like to clean that up and make a few more putts.”

One putt on Monday that DiLisio did not have to make was on that 14th hole. After making the turn at even par 35, DiLisio suffered two bogies – on the 11th and 12th holes -  and was looking for a momentum changer.

“That was really important for my round more than anything,” said DiLisio who decided to make an aggressive swing with a 7 iron after watching his playing partner come up short just minutes prior. “We didn’t actually see it go in because there was a lot of glare on the green. We knew it landed in front and thought it went over, but we walked up there and saw that it went in.”

DiLisio would go on to make one additional birdie – on the 522-yard, par 5 15th hole – and three birdies to cap off his 1-under par round.

“I have gotten into match play once and that was two years ago,” said DiLisio. “Today was a good start.”

As the 23rd-ranked player in the 2016 recruiting class in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings coming out of high school, DiLisio lived up to his billing during a solid freshman campaign with the Blue Devils where he finished as the individual champion of the 2017 Heel/Pack Individual Tournament. Earlier this season he advanced to U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying for the first time in his career.

“I haven’t played year round until this past year and it makes a huge difference to be in that environment and playing with guys with high expectations,” said DiLisio of his first year of collegiate golf. “You start to raise your level and start matching what you are seeing out of them and out of yourself and you can get good quick and I have felt like I have made some big improvements.”

One additional highlight from this year which might not be as well documented was a hole in one that he scored in May at Salem Country Club during a friendly match with his grandfather and brother. It was the first time that he had ever made a hole in one, so making yet another just eight weeks later during arguably the biggest tournament of his summer season is icing on the cake.

“This is big for sure,” said DiLisio. “This year has a really good field and it’s always a good tournament.”

HERBIE AIKENS EYES MATCH PLAY RETURN

Joining DiLisio atop the leaderboard at 1-under par 69 is Aikens, who at 35 years old appears to be the elder statesman among a field whose average age is 30.2 and includes more than 45 NCAA collegiate players.

He demonstrated veteran poise and course management down the stretch on day one as he battled back from a frustrating start where he made double bogey on his third hole of the day – the 358-yard, par 12th hole – and then made disappointing pars on the back-to-back par 5s on the 15th and 16th holes.

“It started off shaky,” said Aikens, a two-time MGA victor during the 2014 season (he won the MGA Mid-Amateur and MGA Amateur Public Links Championships). “On 12, I had a bad shot into the woods, chipped out, hit a good recovery shot and hit what I thought was a good putt which rolled out to six feet. After that, I felt like I was chasing it and couldn’t get too much going.”

Aikens’ luck changed on the 195-yard, par 3 17th hole where he made a key birdie putt. From that point on, he played 2-under par golf through his final 11 holes including an eagle on the 546-yard, par 5 2nd hole.

“The greens are great,” said Aikens. “They have a ton of break in them and a lot of speed. You have to try to not to be too precise with the line and just feel it and brush it in there. It is a different kind of putting out there, and you have to protect it.”

After missing out on match play one year ago, Aikens is happy to get one solid round under his belt. In the past five years, Aikens has missed the cut three times and advanced to the round of 16 twice (in 2013 and 2015).

"It's very important," said Aikens. "It has been hard for me to even make the cut some times. I don't know if I get so amped up for it. I struggled last year and I missed the cut. It is definitely an important tournament, and it's one that you feel like you should at least be in match play, and when you don't make it you are heartbroken. This year I am doing what I need to do to make match play."

The low 32 scorers following 36 holes of stroke play will continue on to Match Play Competition which is scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

RILEY, RILEY & REILLY... AND ONE MORE RILEY

One of the most talked about pairings this week was that of Ryan Riley (Pine Oaks GC), Ryan Riley (Sterling National) and Michael Reily (Tour Greater Boston).

The trio enjoyed many laughs about their shared last names. Although the pairing was the mastermind of the MGA Championship staff, there was also another Riley in the group by simple happenstance.

After failing to qualify for this week’s Championship Proper, Michael Riley (Sterling National) made a trip to Newton to serve as caddie for his friend and clubmate Ryan Riley.

In the end, there were so many "Riley"s that the scoring program could not keep track. As a result, Ryan Riley was listed as “Ryan.Riley” on the starting times and results pages.

He quickly became known in the group as simply, “Ryan.Dot.Riley”.

PARZIALE, NAUMEC & WALTHOUSE - 3 DIFFERENT PATHS TO A 70

It’s not often that three competitors score the same score on the same day in the same group.

That phenomenon is exactly what happened to Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC), Billy Walthouse (Longmeadow CC) and Matt Naumec (GreatHorse), who all posted scores of even par 70 on day one.

“We all shot even in three different ways, but it was a good time,” said Parziale, the reigning MGA Player of the Year. “I had a rough start the first few holes but it was comfortable playing with these guys. I got to know them both over the last few years.”

Parziale finished with three birdies which were spread out almost evenly throughout his round – on the 1st, 9th and 16th holes.

Walthouse made one double bogey and three bogies, but he also played 5-under par during a 9-hole stretch on Monday.

“It was a great time out there,” said Walthouse, who was featured in today’s edition of Global Golf Post New England. “We got a great draw with the pairings, so I was pumped. Like Matt, I had a rough start, but playing with these guys helps a lot because they push you to have some good holes coming in so we were able to all finish strong.”

Naumec, meanwhile, was 3-over par with four holes left before he made three consecutive birdies on the 6th, 7th and 8th holes.

Although they have played in similar circuits over the years, the trio became closer this past May when they traveled to Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (NC) to compete in the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. Parziale teamed up with Aikens, but Naumec and Walthouse advanced to the second round of match play that week.

“It was great playing today with Billy my partner and Matt,” said Naumec. “We had a great time in Pinehurst and it was nice to get paired together. It was awesome.”

SIGNS OF A BRIGHT FUTURE AHEAD

For the past several years, leading golf organizations including the MGA have put significant focus on developing the game of golf for the future, with its eyes set on junior golfers – the next generation of players who the organization will look upon to carry the sport into the future.

Through major championships like the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship and the U.S. Girls' Junior Amateur Championship or through the renowned youth golf competition Drive Chip and Putt Championship, there is now unprecedented cooperation and coordination by the national organizations.

Much of the same is happening on the local level.

The same youth who have been the primary focus for the growth of the game have advanced through several of the MGA Championships in past years and are now in a position to compete for the Bay State’s most-prominent state title this week. A noticeably prominent group as those of college-age level who once again will be making up a good percentage of the Championship field.

With 52 colleges and universities located within a 10-mile radius of the club, the Massachusetts Amateur could once again crown a collegiate player – something that it has done for each of past two years.

In 2015 at Oak Hill Country Club, University of Virginia golfer Nick McLaughlin was victorious while St. Thomas Aquinas golfer Brendan Hunter took the crown at last year’s championship held at Taconic Golf Club.   

In fact, 45 of the 144 competitors in this week’s field are between the ages of 18-22, while 34 of those 45 are either current members of a collegiate golf program, will be joining a collegiate golf program in the fall, or are recent graduates of a Division I, Division II or Division III program.

Take a look at which collegiate players and programs are represented in this week’s Championship Field.

COMPETITOR

COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY

ELIGIBILITY*

Ben Balter

Wake Forest University

Graduated

Cody Booska

Johnson & Wales – Miami

Senior

Alex Jamieson

University of Notre Dame

Freshman

Thomas Downing

Central Connecticut

Freshman

Andrew Gerety

Holy Cross

Sophomore

Jack Boulger

University of Connecticut

Freshman

Chris Francouer

University of Rhode Island

Freshman

Steven DiLisio

Duke University

Sophomore

Jimmy Hervol

University of Connecticut

Junior

Steven Tasho

Bryant University

Sophomore

James Turner

Dartmouth College

Freshman

Mark Turner

Dartmouth College

Freshman

Matthew Organisak

Emory College

Sophomore

Matt Johnson

St. Michaels College

Sophomore

Andrew Warfield

Bryant University

Sophomore

Joe Brosseau

Holy Cross

Sophomore

Alejandro Soto

Colgate University

Sophomore

Tim Umphrey

University of Connecticut

Sophomore

Jackson Lang

Davidson College

Junior

Matt Naumec

Boston College

Junior

Brendan Ridge

Boston College

Sophomore

Jake Peer

Holy Cross

Junior

Jake Shuman

Duke University

Senior

Brett Krekorian

Limestone College

Junior

Hugh Lagrotteria

Fordham University

Graduated

Brendan Hunter

St. Thomas Aquinas

Graduated

Athan Goulos

Endicott College

Graduated

Charlie May

Elon University

Senior

Billy Walthouse

University of Rhode Island

Graduated

Patrick Frodigh

Elon University

Red-shirt Senior

Matt Cowgill

James Madison University

Senior

Casey Mills

Johnson & Wales – Miami

Junior

Lane Bohman

Babson College

Freshman

Christopher Bornhorst

Babson College

Sophomore

Riley Whitman

Babson College

Junior

* Denotes 2017 Fall NCAA Eligibility
** Data based on most recent information provided to MGA

As the USGA and the over 90 state golf associations work to grow the game to the next generation of competitors, the fact that over 30 percent of the Championship field are those born during the Tiger Woods era of the game is positive news for the industry as a whole. It’s also a sign that what they are doing to reach the next generation of golfers is clearly working.

The results themselves pick up from a trend that the MGA has seen over the course of several years. In fact, at last year’s MGA Amateur Championship, 13 players with collegiate ties advanced to match play while the Massachusetts Cup, awarded to the tournament champion, was given to Brendan Hunter, who was a rising senior at St. Thomas Aquinas College at the time of the championship.

While we will have to wait through another 144 holes of golf this week to learn whether another collegiate player takes the MGA title, there’s no question that the young competitors are once again returning to the game and at the end of the day, that is a big win for all.

A HISTORIC FIRST SHOT BY A FORMER CHAMPION

The first Massachusetts Amateur Championship was held in 1903 and stands as the third oldest state amateur championship in the United States behind only the Golf Association of Philadelphia (115 years) and The Metropolitan Golf Association (113 years).

The storied event made history – nearly 109 years after its first playing – again on Monday morning when two-time champion James Driscoll struck a ceremonial first drive at 7:15 a.m.

Driscoll, who captured this title in 1996 and again in 1998, made a special visit to his longtime home club to kick start the five-day tournament which features two rounds of stroke play and five rounds of match play.

Click here to view that historic shot which was broadcast via Facebook Live.

Driscoll represents the first person to participate in an opening tee shot in the history of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship. A Brookline native who now resides in Florida has been a longtime member of Charles River Country Club. He was officially introduced to the crowd of spectators, officials and fans by MGA Executive Director Jesse Menachem at 7:15 a.m. He then sent his drive down the fairway to officially signal the start of the 109th Massachusetts Amateur Championship.

"It is a true honor to be here," said Driscoll, who will depart this evening to take part in next week's Web.com Utah Championship. "The person who is victorious at the end of this week will have a memory that they will never forget."

Since turning professional in 2001, Driscoll has enjoyed a successful career on both the PGA Tour and the Web.com Tour in events across the country, but despite his success, he has remained a friendly face at the club where he won his first championship at age 15.

"James Driscoll is a perfect representation of Massachusetts golf and a true role model for golfers of all ages," said Menachem. "In addition to being a tremendous competitor, James has consistently given back to the game whether it has been through his volunteer efforts with The First Tee of Massachusetts or the Birdies for Boston program."

Driscoll, who became the youngest ever competitor to win the MGA Amateur Championship in 1996 at age 18, also won the 1993 Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship held at Kernwood Country Club. As a junior competitor, he was ranked as the second best player in the country and made the final of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship in 1996.

A graduate of Brookline High School and The Taft School, James enjoyed a successful stint at the University of Virginia and reached reach the final round of the 2000 U.S. Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club – which then led him an invitation to the 2001 Masters Tournament, where he was partnered with Tom Watson. At the time of the Masters, Driscoll’s first round 68 score was the best mark in an opening round by an amateur since Ken Venturi’s 66 in 1956. He was also a member of the 2001 Walker Cup Team.

Driscoll most recently won the 2015 New England Open and the 2016 Nashville Golf Open.

PAST CHAMPION UPDATE

A total of eight past champions are in this year's field. Brendan Hunter (2016), John Kelly (2014), Ryan Riley (2011), John Hadges (2008, 2010), Ben Spitz (2006), Frank Vana, Jr. (2004, 2005), Andy Drohen (2003), and Brendan Hester (2001).

Here is how they fared on Monday.

Brendan Hunter (Shaker Hills CC) – won this event in 2016. Today’s score = 9-over par 79

John Kelly (Twin Hills CC) – won this event in 2014. Today’s score = 3-over par 73

Ryan Riley (Thorny Lea GC) – won this event in 2011. Today’s score = 3-over par 73

John Hadges (Thorny Lea GC) – won this event in 2008 and 2010. Today’s score = 3-over par 73

Ben Spitz (George Wright GC) – won this event in 2006. Today’s score = 3-over par 73

Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough CC) – won this event in 2004 and 2005. Today’s score = 3-over par 73

Andy Drohen (The Ranch GC) – won this event in 2003. Today’s score = 10-over par 80

Brendan Hester (Pleasant Valley CC) – won this event in 2001. Today’s score = 3-over par 73

SCHEDULE OF PLAY

Monday, July 10
First Round, 18 Holes Stroke Play

— Morning Tee Times Begin at 7:30 a.m.
— Afternoon Tee Times Begin at 12:00 p.m.

Tuesday, July 11
Second Round, 18 Holes Stroke Play

— Morning Tee Times Begin at 7:30 a.m.
— Afternoon Tee Times Begin at 12:00 p.m.
(The low 32 scorers continue on to Match Play Competition. In the event of a tie, a sudden-death playoff will be used to determine the final Match Play competitors.)

Wednesday, July 12
First Day of Match Play

— Round of 32 Matches Begin at 8:00 a.m.
(Remaining 16 move on to afternoon match)
— Round of 16 Matches (Afternoon)
(Remaining 8 move on to Thursday's matches)

Thursday, July 13
Second Day of Match Play

— Quarterfinal Matches Begin at 8:00 a.m.
(Remaining 4 move on to Semifinals)
— Semifinal Matches (Afternoon)
(Remaining 2 move on to Finals)

Friday, July 14
Third Day of Match Play

— Morning 18 Holes begin at 8:00 a.m.
— Afternoon 18 Holes begin 45 minutes following the conclusion of the morning round.
(In the event of a tied match, (a) the winner shall be decided immediately by a hole-by-hole playoff, and (b) the stipulated round is deemed to extend to as many holes as are required for a match to be won.).

 

©2003- Massachusetts Golf Association. All rights reserved. Site Design by RainCastle Communications, Inc.