Headline: Matt Parziale Storms To the Top of the Ouimet Memorial Tournament Leaderboard Following Day 2; Final Round Set for Friday at Woodland Golf Club

For Immediate Release: July 27, 2017

Matt Parziale (above) holds the overall lead, while Kevin Carey is tops in the Lowery Division following round 2 held at The Country Club.

Brookline, MA — The highs and lows of golf are always accentuated in July, and Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) is experiencing it first hand.

Two weeks after winning the Massachusetts Amateur Championship and less than seven days after missing the cut at the New England Amateur Championship, the Brockton native finds himself atop the leaderboard at the 50th Francis Ouimet Memorial Tournament.

Parziale, who won this event in 2009 and 2013, bettered his 1-under par 71 at Brae Burn Country Club on Wednesday with a day-low score of 5-under par 66 on Thursday at The Country Club.

Following Thursday's round, the starting field was reduced to the low 40 scorers. Those competitors - along with the low nine scorers from the Lowery Division - and the six Women's Division competitors will compete in a final round at Woodland Golf Club on Friday.

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Parziale currently holds a one-stroke lead over Bobby Leopold (Coventry, RI) and a two-stroke advantage over Billy Walthouse (Longmeadow CC) and Dylan Siebenaler (Richmond, TX) and John Hadges (Thorny Lea GC) heading into the third and final round.

“I felt like it wasn’t a great day yesterday, but I was able to get through it ok,” said Parziale. “Today after the first hole everything went well.”

A bogey on his first hole of the day at The Country Club soon became a distant memory as that would prove to be his only miscue on the day. On the very next hole, Parziale nearly drove the green on the 287-yard, par 4 2nd hole and then followed that up with a second birdie on the 310-yard, par 4 6th hole.

“I had good up-and-downs on 3 and 5 and that helped to keep it going,” said Parziale, who made the turn at 1-under par 34. “I had another good up-and-down on 9, and then I hit it close the whole back nine.”

He began his back-nine barrage by making a 12 footer for birdie on the 10th hole. He reached the 499-yard, par 5 11th hole in two and then drained a 20-foot birdie putt on the 485-yard, par 4 15th hole.

“I felt good and had good numbers and was able to be aggressive which is key,” said Parziale, who also made birdie on the 13th hole to post a back-nine score of 4-under par 32. “It’s not that I know how to get good numbers, but I got lucky to get good numbers.”

Parziale’s stellar round on Thursday was a continuation of his performance two weeks ago en route to capturing the 2017 Massachusetts Amateur Championship just four miles away at Charles River Country Club.

After five straight days of grueling competition, Parziale missed the cut after two rounds at the New England Amateur Championship and then had to withdraw from Monday’s 36-hole U.S. Amateur Sectional Qualifier at Crestview Country Club after the first day was suspended due to weather.

Although the qualifier was eventually completed on Tuesday, Parziale could not compete as had to return home for work.  

“I don’t know how I would have felt if I had to play both of those days,” said Parziale, who works for the Brockton Fire Department.  “You never want to miss a cut, but rest is always good too at this stretch of the year.”

Through the highs and lows, Parziale is looking at the bright side of every situation these days and he hopes for another high before July comes to a close.

“I have been lucky enough two times before, but there are a lot of good players,” said Parziale about a possible three-peat. “I just have to try to get myself in contention with a chance down the stretch.”

LEOPOLD SAVORING EVERY OUIMET MOMENT

While most in the field are excited about the new changes to come to the Ouimet Memorial Tournament in 2018, there is one golfer who becomes a bit nostalgic.

As a result of the merit-based eligibility requirements that will be put in place next year, competitors who do not hold a USGA/GHIN Handicap Index with an MGA Member Club will not be eligible.

While the changes will open the door to many more competitors, there are a few who might be left behind. Included in that group is Bobby Leopold (Coventry, RI), a longtime Rhode Island Golf Association golfer who currently stands second with a score of 5-under par 138 heading into the final round of competition.

“It’s always nice to play totally different courses that you would never play especially coming from Rhode Island,” said Leopold. “I just had to play TCC. I have only played it once in a member-guest, and it played totally different. This place is pretty special, and it’s nice that the last time I will get to play in this thing I get to play here.”

Leopold made the most of his opportunity on Thursday morning as he made two birdies on the front nine to make the turn at 2-under par.

“We got kind of lucky with the wind,” said Leopold. “On the front nine it wasn’t calm but it wasn’t like it is now. It was raining on us a little bit this morning, but flip flop you get one or the other and I’ll take the rain over the wind. I took advantage as much as I could and those holes are hard coming in.”

On the 429-yard, par 4 5th hole, Leopold sent his approach shot to two feet to set up his first birdie of the day. Three holes later he made a solid putt for birdie.

The winds began to pick up and the temperatures dropped as Leopold’s group made their way around the back nine. Despite the increasingly challenging conditions, Leopold stayed the course and carded one final birdie – on the 485-yard, par 4 15th hole – and signed an error-free scorecard to leapfrog up the leaderboard.

“I was really happy with 3 under,” said Leopold. “I’ll take that every time.”

Just last week the 32-year-old Leopold captured the 2017 New England Amateur Championship at Metacomet Country Club. It was his first career New England Golf Association title.

“That was unexpected somewhat,” said Leopold, who staged a come-from-behind victory on the final day to best Billy Walthouse and Kevin Silva by one stroke. “I have been playing good but you never know when you are going to win again. You get older and kids get younger and better. I don’t hit the shots like I used to five or six years ago. I don’t have the same kind of arsenal, but I know what I can and can’t do and that is sometimes to my advantage.

“I will take the middle of the green instead of going for a flag I shouldn’t go at. I have been using what I did last week to just try to play some steady golf. I am a little tired, but my game is at a good place so I think that I can just keep going around and around and around shooting a good score.”

Now that he has one monkey off his back after winning the New England Amateur Championship, Leopold is eying a chance at another elusive title.

“It would be a nice one to try and win,” said Leopold. “I have never won the Ouimet, and my father in law lost in a playoff and finished second years ago. But it’s more about putting yourself up against the best field. I chose this over the [RIGA] Stroke Play event because the field here is better… this draws a good field being an invitational and a lot of New England guys want to play in it.”

Yet another bonus to winning on Friday for Leopold would be a lifetime exemption. It is an exemption category that includes all “Past Ouimet Memorial Champions” regardless of state/club affiliation.  

As a result, Leopold has 18 holes left at Woodland Golf Club to win yet an elusive championship title and keep his dreams of playing in this event alive for years to come.

CAREY'S PATIENCE PAYING OFF IN LOWERY PURSUIT

If there is one thing that Kevin Carey (Dennis Pines GC) has learned over the years it is that patience is key.

The 62-year-old from Dennis was two shots off the Lowery Division lead following the first round of play at Brae Burn Country Club and now – 18 holes later - finds himself with a two-shot advantage with just 18 holes remaining.

Cary stands at 1-over par 144 following an even par round of 71 at The Country Club on Thursday.

“I hit it pretty solid all day and was steady,” said Carey. “There was nothing too crazy. I tried to minimize the bogies because I was two behind, but my main goal was to make the cut so I am in good shape.”

Carey made an early bogey on the 3rd hole but carded birdie on the 7th and 9th holes to make the turn at 1-under par 34. He was eying a 2-under mark when he reached the green on the 482-yard, par 5 10th hole but hit it “pin high and made six and was disappointed”.

Although he would make par there and then bogey on the next hole, Carey capped off his second round with seven straight pars including a key putt from 20 feet on the 17th hole.

“I tried to shoot even par and I succeeded,” said Carey. “I screwed up a little yesterday, but it is just awesome to play places like this.”

HADGES CONTINUES TO DEFY AGE

Golf might be the only sport where competitors celebrate –with added gusto – their 55th birthday. After all, the age of 55 represents eligibility into senior amateur events and a chance to compete against a group of elder peers.

While most embrace the opportunity, there are some who prefer to continue on the regular path and one such competitor is John Hadges (Thorny Lea GC).

The now 56-year-old North Easton resident chose to compete in the Championship instead of the Lowery Division this year. After posting a two-round score of 4-under par 139 he is proving that he can still compete for titles against even the youngest of foes.

“I just enjoy it,” said Hadges. “I like playing with Doug [Clapp] and Frank [Vana, Jr.], and guys like that. Even though they are a little younger than me, they aren’t as young as some of the kids out there. But it’s just that I really like a challenge and the competition.”

A winner of this event in 1981, Hadges stands as one of only two competitors to post more than 10 top-10 overall Championship Division finishes, including a stretch of five consecutive from 2005 to 2009.

“I don’t know,” said Hadges when asked about the secret to his longtime success. “I haven’t lost it yet if you will. Everyone tells me that you get to a certain age, so I have been fortunate.”

For the second day in a row, Hadges is defying the odds and Father Time as he stands just two strokes off the overall lead. The four other competitors who are either ahead or tied with him are on average 30 years his younger.

Following a 3-under par 69 at Brae Burn Country Club on Wednesday, Hadges put on a display of consistency at The Country Club, finishing with three birdies and two bogies (his final one coming on the 18th hole). He was also one of the few competitors who carried his own bag on both days.

“I have been busy with my kids and am always on the move,” said Hadges of his endurance.

In fact, just last week Hadges was at Needham Golf Club cheering on his son Jack at the Massachusetts Young Golfers’ Amateur Championship and in one month he will take to the course at The Ridge Club with his daughter Tate at the Massachusetts Father & Daughter Championship.

“Now they are playing in tournaments and in fact they play in more than I do,” said Hadges. “At night I am exhausted.”

Hadges returned to dad duty following his round at The Country Club, but he’ll be back on Friday looking to make history and become the oldest competitor ever to win the Ouimet Memorial Tournament.

It’s a daunting task, but it’s one that Hadges embraces with gusto.

A SWEET RIDE FOR OUIMET SCHOLAR COOK

In the first 49 years of the Ouimet Memorial Tournament, there have only been five Ouimet scholarship recipients who have won the invitational tournament. There was Ken Katowski in 1970, Paul Murphy in 1975, Daniel Neary in 1984 and Brendan Hester, the most recent scholar to win the Ouimet Memorial Tournament, who did it in 1994.

But for Easton’s Jason Cook, the 1986 Ouimet Memorial champion, winning the tournament wasn’t so much about remaining connected with an organization that helped him attend college, like it has for more than 5,600 individuals since 1949, but rather winning the tournament was instead an introduction to the Foundation as a whole.

On the first day of the 1986 Ouimet Memorial Tournament, which was being held at nearby Wellesley Country Club, Cook wasn’t even on the tee sheet. Instead, he was scheduled to caddie for his father Joe, of Pine Oaks Golf Club, who had placed T-15 two years’ prior. Young Jason was all but set to be on the bag again.

However, a last minute back injury to father Joe opened the door for Jason, who was only 17 years old and enjoying the summer leading up to his senior year of high school.  

Because the injury was so last minute and they didn’t have anyone to replace him on the tee sheet, they replaced Jason with Joe and carried on.

“My father was supposed to be in the tournament but he hurt his back so they let me play,” said Jason, now more than 30 years later removed from his victory. “I was in between my junior and senior year of high school. It was my first introduction to what the scholarship program was all about.”

In the opening round at Wellesley, the young Cook fired a 70 before carding 74 and 75, respectively, at Charles River Country Club and Woodland Golf Club in the two subsequent rounds.

“I was the first to tee off that year and the last person to putt out and I led wire to wire,” said Jason on his 1986 performance.

In fact, Cook remains only one of eight competitors to hold the lead in all three rounds of the tournament. Only 17 years old when he won the tournament, he also remains the youngest competitor to win the Ouimet Memorial Tournament and he’s the only competitor to win the tournament before becoming a scholar.

Now more than 30 years later, Jason Cook, a member of Pine Oaks Golf Club himself, is both looking back on his time as a competitor while also looking forward, trying to up his game so he can continue playing in top notch events. He’s using this week’s Ouimet Memorial Tournament as a stepping stone to get back to playing competitively on a regular basis.  

“It is the first big tournament I ever won,” said Cook on his 1986 victory.

After attending Temple University, the now 48-year old Cook turned professional and moved south trying to make it in the game he loved. He eventually moved back to the Bay State and took a hiatus from competitive golf for more than 20 years.

“It’s fun playing tournament golf again,” said Cook, who is now playing in his second straight Ouimet Memorial Tournament since returning to the field. “I didn’t play very well for a while. I turned pro and went to Florida and didn’t play well so I came back and kind of lost interest for a while. Last year, I started to get the bug again.”

In addition to competing again in the Ouimet Memorial Tournament, which started again on the 30th anniversary of his victory in 2016, Cook hopes that competing in similar tournaments will lead him back to victory again.  

“It’s been over 30 years since I’ve won it,” said Cook. “I don’t have quite the same game as I used to, but I’m starting to play a lot better. I finished third in the Hornblower this year. My game is improving and I’m trying to get a lot more tournament experience so I can try to qualify for the US Senior Open in a couple years.”

Being from the South Shore, Cook has also competed in numerous Brockton Opens, and even won the event seven times. He hopes events like that will help jumpstart his play.

“There are a lot of good players in the Brockton Open,” said Cook. “I mean Steve Tasho plays in it and Matt Parziale. It’s not an easy one to win.”

Cook finished play in the Ouimet Memorial Tournament after shooting a two round score of 10-over par 153.

THE WOMEN’S TIME TO SHINE  

Beginning on Friday, the field will increase by six as the women’s division will kick off and all competitors will compete in 18 holes to determine a champion.

Introduced in 2004, the women’s division has featured a select number of top amateur golfers. Alison Walshe – a current LPGA player who was part of the victorious U.S. Curtis Cup Team in 2008 – captured the first three divisional titles and stands as the only competitor in Ouimet Memorial Tournament history – male or female – to win three straight titles.

Other notable divisional past champions include Rockland native Megan Khang, a rookie on the LPGA Tour who won the title in 2011 and 2012, reigning WGAM Player of the Year Pam Kuong and two-time and defending champion Julia Ford (Cyprian Keyes GC).

Ford, a rising sophomore at the University of Virginia and a Shrewsbury resident, will be looking to capture her second straight title and third in four years. She is the only past divisional champion featured in this year’s field.

The field also includes the following:

Jacqueline Gonzalez (Cyprian Keyes GC) – a rising sophomore at the College of the Holy Cross, Gonzalez was the Patriot League Rookie of the Year for the women’s golf team. She was a part of the Charles River Country Club team that captured the WGAM's 2017 Dolly Sullivan Tournament.

Jacqueline Eleey (South Shore CC) – a senior on the Georgetown University women’s golf team, Eleey recently won the 2017 New England Women’s Golf Association Championship. Earlier in the summer, Eleey competed at the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball at the Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Abigail Hood (Bass Rocks GC) – a senior at Sacred Heart University, Hood was twice named to the All Northeast Conference Second Team. Prior to college, she was a four-year letterwinner at Rockport High School.

Pacharada Treekul (New Britain, CT) – a native of Thailand, Treekul competes on the golf team at Mercy High School located in Middletown, Connecticut. She recently placed second at the 2017 Connecticut Junior PGA Championship and fourth at the 2017 Hartford Women’s Open.

Anne Walsh (The Country Club) – a rising sophomore at Boston Latin High School, Walsh finished second following an eight-hole playoff for the individual title at the MIAA girls’ golf championship.

The 2018 Ouimet Memorial Tournament will feature a few format that will see the women’s field expand to 54 holes with merit-based eligibility. (see below for more details on the new eligibility  requirements).

NEW CHANGES FOR 2018

Earlier this month, the MGA – which is set to take over full management of the Ouimet Memorial Tournament in 2018 – announced new sites and new eligibility changes.

The format of the event will change from invitation only to merit and exempt based eligibility for amateur competitors who hold an active USGA/GHIN Handicap Index with an MGA Member Club.

The eligibility standards will also fall in line with those of the MGA’s current slate of Championship events and include exempt categories for the Championship Division (18), Lowery (senior) Division (10) and Women’s Division (11).

Included in the list of exempt categories are past Ouimet Memorial Champions (regardless of state/club affiliation), top 10 scorers and ties from the previous year’s competition, top champions and finishers from the major MGA and WGAM Championships and top scorers from elite regional events.

“Much work has been done over the past year, and we are thrilled to be announcing these strategic and important changes beginning in 2018,” said Jesse Menachem, the MGA’s Executive Director. “Significant efforts have been made by representatives involved from both the MGA and the Ouimet Fund to ensure the success of this tournament continues for years to come.”

In 2018, the Ouimet Memorial will officially become part of the MGA Championship Proper schedule and will represent the third 54-hole stroke play event offered by the state golf association – joining the Massachusetts Open and Massachusetts Mid-Amateur – and as such will be a World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) Counting event.

The MGA will also expand the field for the Senior and Women’s divisions. Additionally, the Women’s division will play  54 holes (it is presently conducted over 18 holes). The Ouimet Fund introduced a senior division in 1999, and a women’s division in 2004.

Click here to view the complete release about the 2018 confirmed host sites and new eligibility requirements.

TCC PROVES TO BE A PERFECT VENUE FOR 50

Celebrating a milestone year for the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund, it is only appropriate that one of the three stops on the 2017 Ouimet Memorial Tournament tour is Brookline’s The Country Club – the club that first made the tournament’s namesake even possible.

It was here in September of 1913 at this very course where a 20-year old by the name of Francis Ouimet, a name not known to many outside the local golf circle, defeated two of the world’s greatest competitors and single-handedly put America on the map for the golfing greats to see.

At the 1913 U.S. Open, it was the very Ouimet, whose home was across the street from the 17th green and who caddied at the course here in Brookline, defeated the likes of Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, two European golf powerhouses, in an 18-hole playoff to become the first amateur to ever win the USGA Championship, then in its 19th year, and rightfully earn the nickname, “America’s First Golf Hero.”

Ouimet’s story, which was first featured in Mark Frost’s novel, The Greatest Game Ever Played, advanced to the big screen in 2005 with the help of Director Bill Paxton. The movie, by the same name, starred a young Shia LaBeouf, who played the main character Ouimet and helped portray one of the greatest stories the game has ever seen.

With the second leg of the tournament back here at The Country Club, a place that has been connected with the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Foundation since its inception in 1949, many individuals have expressed their gratitude in the club continuing the rich tradition that started on this very property.

“This is really special to us” said Bob Donovan, the Ouimet Fund's Executive Director on The Country Club hosting the tournament this year. “We wanted to do something very special for the 50th Ouimet Tournament and to come to TCC and Brae Burn, two bedrock clubs of the Ouimet Fund who have been supportive for so long, we are grateful for that. This is a core club and we wanted to return to our history here.”

TCC’s history with the Ouimet Fund has several ties. Prior to this week, the club had previously hosted the Ouimet Memorial Tournament in 1975, 1984 and 1992, while two of the club’s own have hoisted the Richard Connolly, Sr. Trophy following the conclusion of play.

In 1989, TCC member Peter O’Brien defeated Frank Dully II by two strokes to win the 22nd annual Ouimet Memorial Tournament while R.D. Haskell, Jr., son of former longtime MGA Executive Director Dick Haskell, won the 28th edition of the tournament in 1995.

Off the course, TCC and its members have been very supportive of the Ouimet Fund initiative, and they were one of the first clubs to come to the aid of the foundation when it first began raising money to help support locals working in golf attend college. Now, there are four endowed scholarships directly connected to those involved with the club. The Anders Fund Scholarship, the Kevin Buckley Scholarship, the Killer Foy Scholarship and the May Jackson Scholarship are also named in honor of former TCC members or are slated for students who have provided their service to golf at the club.

The generosity of the individuals tied to the club who have made some of the aforementioned endowed scholarships possible is second to none.

“The endowed awards are huge,” said Donovan, who took in the later rounds Thursday from the 18th green at TCC. “They are additional awards on top of scholars’ basic awards. These are people who have created this who love the game and want to give back. It is a special way to tie some of these names together forever.” 

Although Francis Ouimet will be remembered most for what he did here on the course, his legacy continues beyond the walls of the prominent yellow clubhouse off Clyde Street in Brookline.

This past season, the deep bond that exists between the Foundation and The Country Club grew even stronger when the organization announced that it had received its largest ever gift in the amount of three million dollars, which would be used to continue the mission of the Francis Ouimet Foundation and helping those who work in the game of golf by providing them with scholarship money.

The gift, received from the Harold Whitworth Pierce Charitable Trust, named after the man who was a partner at partner at Tucker, Anthony & R.L. Day, a Boston investment banking and brokerage firm, added another chapter to  the ties between TCC and the Ouimet Foundation. The late Pierce was a close friend to Ouimet himself and served as the President of the Country Club. He also served as President of the Massachusetts Golf Association and later as President of the USGA, a term that went from 1940-41.

The Country Club celebrated Ouimet’s victory by hosting the US Opens in both the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the date while also honoring the centennial anniversary in 2013 by hosting the US Amateur Championship. TCC was also the site of the 1999 Ryder Cup, the same spot where the Americans defeated the highly favored players from Europe.  

For more information about the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund or how you can donate, visit www.Ouimet.org.

NEWS & NOTES FROM ROUND 2

Ouimet DominanceSince its debut in 1968, no competitor has been more dominant than Frank Vana, Jr. (Marlborough CC). While five different players have won the title more than once, only Vana – a four-time champion (1998, 2001, 2002 and 2012) – has secured the title more than twice. He has notched the most all-time top 5 finishes (13 with next closest being 6) and the most all-time top 10 finishes (17).

We’ll See You Again Soon, TCC – In addition to the list of prestigious national and international events that The Country Club has and will be hosting (see story above), the club will open its doors – for the 11th time in event history – to the Massachusetts Amateur Championship in 2019. That same year, Brae Burn Country Club, site of day two of the 2017 Ouimet Memorial Tournament, will serve as host to the 2019 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship.

A Spring Board – According to the Ouimet Memorial Tournament record books, former competitors from this event have enjoyed success on the professional ranks and accounted for 11 PGA Tour, 14 Champions Tour and 26 Web.com Tour titles. Five former competitors have played in the Masters, three have represented their country as members of the Walker Cup Team and there has been three USGA champions. Brad Faxon is the lone former competitor to play on a Ryder Cup squad something he did twice in 1995 and 1997.

Shot of the DayGarren Poirier (Rutland CC – VT) didn’t have to use his putter on one hole on Thursday. On the 429-yard, par 4 5th hole, Poirier hit a soft 6 iron from 171 yards out hoping to land it close. He did more than that as Poirier’s approach found the bottom of hole for an eagle “2”.

Second Best Round of the Day – It’s been a summer that seems to keep getting better for David Spitz (South Shore CC). Two weeks after advancing to the quarterfinals of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, Spitz posted the day-low round at The Country Club – a 4-under par 67. After carding a double bogey on his second hole of the day and making the turn at even par 35, Spitz exploded on the back nine by making birdie on the 10th, 15th and 16th holes as well as an eagle on the 531-yard, par 5 15th hole.

Special Gifts – Each competitor received a unique gift at each host site. On Wednesday, copies of Arnold Palmer's book, "A Life Well Played" was given out at the scoring table. On Thursday at The Country Club, each competitor received a water bottle marked with the TCC logo.

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