Headline: Match Play Field Now Set for 109th Massachusetts Amateur Championship; Round of 32 Will Begin at 8:00 a.m. at Charles River Country Club

For Immediate Release: July 11, 2017

Medalist Steven DiLisio (right) with Harry McCracken, Jr. (center) and MGA Executive Director Jesse Menachem.

Newton, MA — It was a first of historic proportions.

For the first time in Massachusetts Amateur Championship history, the stroke-play medalist (i.e. the individual who posts the lowest cumulative score following the 36-hole stroke-play portion of the event) was awarded the Harry B. McCracken, Jr. Stroke Play Medalist Award.

And for first time, the individual receiving that award was 19-year-old Steven DiLisio (Salem CC).

Over a two-day period, DiLisio posted a score of 3-under par 137 to finish as medalist and earn the top seed heading into match play, which will begin Wednesday morning at 8:00 a.m. at Charles River Country Club.

CLICK HERE to view the 109th Massachusetts Amateur Championship match-play bracket.

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

109th MGA Amateur Quick Links

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

This year's cut line fell at 7-over par 147 with the final two spots being decided in a five-for-two sudden-death playoff which lasted six holes on Tuesday evening.

The first two rounds of match play - round of 32 and round of 16 - will be contested on Wednesday in Newton. The quarterfinals and semifinals will take place on Thursday with the finale coming on Friday when the last two competitors standing will compete in a 36-hole final match.

For DiLisio, this year marks only the second time in his career that he has advanced to match play. Two years ago at Oak Hill Country Club, DiLisio was defeated in the round of 32 by Matthew Naumec (GreatHorse).

“It is a great honor,” said DiLisio just prior to the official medalist ceremony which included McCracken as well as a crowd of competitors, club members and spectators. “To be the first one is pretty awesome. He has been out here for as long as I have been playing tournaments and a lot longer than I have been playing. I have been able to spend some time with him at the New England events and it is just such an honor to share this with him.”

After posting a 1-under par 69 on Monday – a score matched by Herbie Aikens (Pinehills GC) – DiLisio bettered his play by carding a 2-under par 68 to secure himself the top seed.

“I have played pretty solid both days,” said DiLisio, who finished with five birdies on Tuesday. “I started well today and birdied my first hole and just seemed like I was off to a solid start. I have been hitting it really well. I had a lot of scoring irons and wedges into the green and I think I hit 16 or 17 greens today.”

Despite living just an hour away from Charles River Country Club, DiLisio was unfamiliar with the course until just a few weeks ago. A club member Jeff Dinneen – whom DiLisio had recently met – invited him to play in a member-guest.

Without laying an eye on the course, DiLisio made birdie on the first five holes that day.

“Mr. Dinneen said that he liked to win and that I better play well,” said DiLisio with a laugh. “I birdied one and two and he was giving me a hard time about starting and said, ‘Well you have to birdie the first five or it doesn’t matter,’ and then I birdied the first five which was funny. It was a lot of fun.”

Through 36 holes, DiLisio has made seven birdies and one hole in one.

A PERFECT BRACKET FOR THE SPITZ BROTHERS

From literally the day they could walk and hold a club, Ben Spitz (George Wright GC) and David Spitz (South Shore CC) have been battling with each other on the golf course.

Whether it was the small course they built in their backyard when they were youngsters or the grounds of Charles River Country Club where the third oldest state amateur championship in the country is being held, the competitive juices flow.

During the first two days of competition, the brothers had a friendly battle for low scorer with the elder David taking home bragging rights after posting a two-day score of even par 140, which bested his brother by four strokes.

As a result of their strong performances, both brothers advanced to match play and could potentially meet in the finals as they are on opposite sides of the bracket.

“It’s funny we have never even been paired together in MGA events,” said David. “It will be fun. Obviously, we are quite competitive. It wasn’t great growing up because there were a lot of fist fights. But it will be good and hopefully it pans out where we can meet along the way.”

Spitz, who won this event in 2006 and advanced to the round of 32 last year, understands the challenges his brother poses especially this season when David is playing some of his best golf in recent memory. Just six days ago, David fired a 4-under par 66 at a Massachusetts Amateur Public Links qualifier held at D.W. Field Golf Course.

“His putting is really good and he makes everything,” said Ben. “He hits it well and is very dangerous, but he putts it well and that is his biggest attribute. He is pretty consistent too. He isn’t going to shoot high, but it would be fun to play him though.”

Over the past six years, Ben has advanced to match play in five years. The only year that he did not advance – in 2013 – was because he was awaiting the arrival of his twin children. His best finish since his victory in 2006 was a semifinal appearance in 2012. He has since advanced to the round of 32 (in 2014 and 2016) and the round of 16 (2015).

“He is never out of a hole no matter how good or bad he is hitting it,” said David. “He can get up and down from the most ridiculous spots that I have ever seen. It is pretty impressive. He can grind it out and chip and putt like the best that I have ever seen.”

LANG FEELING RIGHT AT HOME

For never having seen the layout of Charles River Country Club prior to his walk through Sunday night, it’s safe to say that Nashawtuc CC member Jack Lang felt right at home on the Newton course during the stroke play portion of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship.

Following a two-round score of 2-under par 138, including a second around low of 4-under 66, the rising Davidson College junior has put himself in good standing ahead of the match play portion of competition.

Following Monday’s round for which Lang, a Lexington resident, shot a 2-over par 72 that saw him T-12 heading into the second day of competition, it was all about making minor changes to his approach on certain holes.

“Yesterday I thought I played pretty good. My game was solid,” said the 20-year old Lang. “Today, I just avoided the stupid mistakes that plagued me [yesterday], like four-putting from 15 feet on the last hole. That just didn’t happen today. I just kept it in the easy spots to two-putt from and happened to make a couple long ones so it was smooth round.”

After rain showers crossed the region this morning, Lang and a handful of competitors who were in the afternoon wave took advantage of the preferable conditions en route to a bogey-free round that saw birdies on Holes 2, 8, 10 and 13.

“The trend was I made some long putts," said Lang. "On two, I put it on [the green] in two and two putted so that was pretty vanilla but I birdied eight. On eight, I was actually behind the pin and I had to make an eight-foot breaker down the hill so I was pretty lucky. On ten, same thing but it was 20 feet. Hole 13 was the same thing. I was like 40 feet and I just happened to roll it in.”

He added, “It was a lot of putting myself on the right side of the pin and trying to two-putt and if it went in, that’s great. Today, it worked out.”

After a successful past year on the links for the Wildcats, which saw him win the Atlantic 10 Individual Championship and advance to the NCAA Regionals, similar play the rest of the week could make this Amateur Championship his most memorable.

This is the fourth MGA Amateur Championship that Lang has competed in and the third time that he has advanced to match play. In 2014, he advanced to the round of 16 while at Taconic Golf Club last July, Lang moved on to the quarterfinal round before falling to eventual champion, Brendan Hunter.

Lang holds the second seed entering match play and will face off against 31st ranked Brendan Hunter on Wednesday morning at 9:20 am.

A HOMECOMING FOR GRILLO

From an island to a city to the Florida Coast and now “The River”, the journey that the game of golf has paved for Tony Grillo (Farm Neck GC) has been widespread and oh so rewarding.

Born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard, Grillo enjoyed a successful junior golf career that saw him earn two Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championships and two MGA Junior Player of the Year awards, all of which came in 2006 and 2007.

His success both on the course and in the classroom landed him at Harvard University where he was a four-year letterman for the Crimson golf team. Following his graduation in 2012, Grillo spent nearly two years working with a local investment banking firm in Boston.

In February of 2014, however, Grillo’s path took yet another turn that landed him a dream job that combines his love for business and economics with his passion for golf.

“Life is great,” said Grillo, who currently serves as a senior manager of corporate sponsorships with the PGA Tour. “I have been down there for about three and a half years working in corporate partnerships. I worked in account management for my first three years and have switched over to more of a business development role with them. There have been a lot of changes lately, so it is an exciting time.”

One of the most notable changes was the appointment of Winchester native Jay Monahan as PGA Tour Commissioner. Monahan became the fourth commissioner of the PGA Tour in January of 2017 when he over for Tim Finchem. The entire Monahan family – including Jay’s younger brother Brendan Monahan (Winchester CC) who is in this week’s field – was featured in the spring issue of MassGolfer magazine (click here to read that story).

“I think that Jay is best friends with everyone,” said Grillo with a laugh. “He has been incredible. When I first got down there, Jay was in the traditional CMO or head of sponsorship role for us and maybe two months in he was named deputy commissioner and started to move into some of his new role.

“He stays close to everyone and knows everyone’s first name. You see him on your way to lunch and he stops, puts down his window and honks the horn and says your name. Getting that is pretty special from the leader of our organization. I don’t think every organization or league has that and that’s just not for me. That is pretty much for everyone there. It’s energizing really.”

From young to old, many in this week’s field are watching Grillo and envying his life which combines a tremendous career path with an opportunity to still play competitive golf and keep close ties to his home state.

To wit, Grillo makes it a priority to return home during the summer months to spend time with his family, play golf at his home course of Farm Neck GC and most recently schedule in a few championship days at marquee MGA events.

Last fall, Grillo drew attention by advancing through sectional qualifying to compete at the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.

“It’s great and everyone has been really encouraging,” said Grillo. “I dipped my toes in the water these past few years by trying to qualify for USGA events. I think that because of that and because of the magnitude of the USGA Mid Am people started noticing and said that this was awesome and it was great have someone still competing.”

On day one of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, Grillo finished with two birdies and a score of 5-over par 75. Although he was unable to secure a spot in match play, he was still excited to compete and most of all happy to be home.

“I use amateur golf as a reason to get back home,” said Grillo. “This was a perfect example this week where I hoped to be playing golf all week. If not, I now get to go home and spend another week with my family on the Vineyard… they are all excuses to get home.”

PUT ME IN... COACH?

This week’s playing of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship not only featured a large percentage of former, current and future collegiate golfers, but the field also included individuals responsible for coaching both the collegiate golfers and those who help the players get to the college level.

In the stroke play portion of the tournament, collegiate coaches Kevin Daly (Salem State College), Zach Camarra (Worcester CC), Brandon Parker (Worcester CC) and Jeff Page (Babson College) were four of the 144-person field to take to the links, eyeing a shot at the title. The foursome was joined by Belmont Hill School golf coach Charles Doar.

Daly, the founder of an Insurance Agency in Beverly, serves as assistant coach to the Vikings squad that has won two straight Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Championship titles.

Camarra has spent the last four years serving as an assistant men's golf coach for Worcester State University. The 2008 graduate of Worcester State, Camarra was a four-year member of the starting five and earned medalist honors in four tournaments and posted 17 top 10 finishes. In addition to his coaching duties, Camarra is a business development manager for Covanta.

Parker spent the last two years as the head coach for the Assumption men's and women's golf programs. In 2015 he led the men's golf team to four top-five finishes and helped them qualify for the 2016 NCAA Division II Regional Championship. Parker was instrumental in starting the women's golf program and turning them into one of the top programs in the conference. This May, we stepped down as head coach in order to focus more efforts on his professional pursuits.

Page, who works at Salem Five Bank when not coaching, helped the Beavers to a 25th place finish at this past year’s NCAA Division III National Tournament – a team led by Chris Bornhorst and Riley Whitham, who are both in this week’s field.

Doar, an English teacher and Associate Director of College Counseling at Belmont Hill, leads a nine-man golf team that includes Conner Willett ’21, a 14 year old in the field at this week’s event and the defending Massachusetts Young Golfers’ Amateur Champion.

In addition to Daly, Page and Doar, George “Coach” Pendergast, the Tufts University Men’s Golf coach, is serving as a rules official at this week’s Championship, a position he has served for more than 25 years.  A former MGA President and Executive Committee Member, Pendergast will serve in several capacities throughout the week from officiating matches to overseeing scoring.

NEWS & NOTES FROM DAY 2

Comeback Kids: Heading into the second round of play, the chances of making match play looked bleaked from afar for defending champion Brendan Hunter (Shaker Hills CC) and Steve Tasho (Thorny Lea GC). Defying the odds, the duo posted scores of 2-under par 68 and 3-under par 67, respectively, on Tuesday afternoon to finish at 7-over par 147 and earn a spot in the playoff. Although Tasho did not survive the sudden-death playoff, Hunter secured the first playoff spot following a 20-foot downhill birdie putt on the second playoff hole. It was a miraculous finish which saw Hunter make birdie on his final four holes of regulation (holes 15 through 18) and then play 1-under par golf through two playoff holes.

Birdie Magic on 9: Stephen Demare (George Wright GC) was happy to see the Charles River CC 9th hole, which was the third of three playoff holes used on Tuesday evening. The first time around, Demare made 20-foot birdie putt to extend the playoff. The second time around he sank a five footer to secure the second and final spot in match play.

Record Appearance: This marks a record 27th appearance for Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough CC) in match play, which includes a stretch of 23 straight appearances from 1991 through 2012. His first of two MGA Amateur titles came at Taconic Golf Club in 2004. He went on to capture a second title the following year at Essex County Club.

McCracken Honored: The biggest applause on Tuesday came not for a birdie or an eagle but for an individual named Harry McCracken, who was on hand to present the newly coined  Harry B. McCracken, Jr. Stroke Play Medalist Award to DiLisio. McCracken, one of most recognizable figures in the local golf scene, has been a fixture at MGA, NEGA and USGA events since 1969 when he first became a part of the MGA Executive Committee. He rose to the title of MGA president in 1984 and later began work with the New England Golf Association. In addition to the creation of the Harry B McCracken, Jr. Stroke Play Medalist Award, its namesake has previously been honored with the 1995 USGA Ike Grainger Award, the 2007 USGA Joe Dey Award and the 2005 New England PGA George S. Wemyss Award, among others.

Another Title Chance: Two months ago, Nick Maccario (Bradford CC) teamed up with clubmate Shawn Roderick and was just two strokes off the overall lead heading into the final round of the 2017 Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship. Maccario and Roderick fell just short (they finished third), but this week Maccario has another chance to secure an MGA title. The 25 year old from Bradford backed up his day-one score of 2-over par 72 with an even par 70 to secure his first-ever spot in match play.

Solo Title Hopes Still Alive: Another competitor who was in the mix at the 2017 Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship and who has advanced to match play is Sean Fitzpatrick (George Wright GC). He and his partner Chris Tarallo lost in a playoff to the eventual champions (Matt Parziale & Aikens). Fitzpatrick joked at the time that he was hoping to finally secure a “solo” title, referencing the co-champion title he securing during a weather-shortened 2009 MGA Four-Ball Championship. Fitzpatrick’s hope for that “solo” title are still alive after his even par 70 on Tuesday secured him another trip to Newton on Wednesday.

A Return Engagement: A total of 12 competitors who advanced to match play in 2016 were able to secure their spot again this time around. Here is a list of those competitors and their respective 2016 finish:

  • Dan Capucci - semifinals
  • Matthew Naumec - quarterfinals
  • Kevin Gately - round of 16
  • Jackson Lang - round of 16
  • Mark Turner - round of 16
  • Frank Vana, Jr. - round of 16
  • Zach Camarra - round of 32
  • Doug Clapp - round of 32
  • Matt Cowgill - round of 32
  • Matt Parziale - round of 32
  • Ben Spitz - round of 32
  • Billy Walthouse - round of 32

THE CUT LINE

This year's cut line was 7-over par 147 and a total of five competitors had to play off for the final match play spots. The cut line fell at exactly 32 players in 2008 and again in 2009. Playoffs were held for the final spots the past seven years.

Here is a look at the cut-line through the past nine years.

Year

Cut Line Score

Site

2017

147 (+6)

Charles River CC

2016

147 (+5)

Taconic GC

2015

146 (+6)

Oak Hill CC

2014

148 (+8)

Kernwood CC

2013

148 (+8)

Longmeadow CC

2012

147 (+7)

Tedesco CC

2011

147 (+7)

Wyantenuck CC

2010

151 (+7)

Myopia Hunt Club

2009

150 (+8)

The Country Club

2008

151 (+11)

The Kittansett Club


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PREPARING FOR MATCH PLAY: COVERAGE OVERVIEW

Match play represents an opportunity to come see golf at its roots and at its best.

If you can’t make it to Charles River Country Club this week, here is a summary of the coverage you can expect online from Wednesday through the final 36-hole match on Friday.

Wednesday
Round of 32 – 3-hole score updates for all 16 matches
Round of 16 – hole-by-hole scores for all 8 matches

Thursday
Quarterfinals – hole-by-hole score & on-course Twitter updates
Semifinals – hole-by-hole score & on-course Twitter updates

Friday
Final Match - hole-by-hole score & on-course Twitter updates and hole-by-hole descriptions

Highlights and competitor interviews will be posted following the end of each day. In addition, MGA Photographer David Colt will be in site on Wednesday and Friday and Videographer Don Coyne will produce final-round highlights on Friday. All information can be found online at MGAlinks.org, and you can join the conversation via:

 

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