Headline: Future Notre Dame Teammates O'Leary & Jamieson Stand Atop Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship Leaderboard With 18 Holes Remaining

For Immediate Release: August 1, 2017

Andrew O'Leary holds a one-stroke lead over the field heading into final round of the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship.

South Hadley, MA — Sometimes taking a step back allows you to move forward.

That seems to be the case for Andrew O’Leary (Glen Ellen CC), who currently leads the way heading into the third and final round of the 99th Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship, which is being contested this week at The Orchards Golf Club.

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99th Massachusetts Junior Amateur Tournament Quick Links

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O’Leary, who posted a day-low score of 5-under 66 on Tuesday and who holds a one-stroke lead over Alex Jamieson (Marshfield CC), made a difficult decision to not accept an invitation into last week’s Ouimet Memorial Tournament – a marquee amateur event that features the region’s top players – in order to rest and prepare for this week.

“I think that the rest helps a little bit,” said O’Leary, who had just returned home after advancing to match play at the 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship (held last month at Flint Hills National Golf Club in Andover, Kansas) when the invitation to the Ouimet Memorial Tournament arrived. “It also helps your mind so that you aren’t stressed all of the time. It gives your mind a break out there.”

A clear mind and a sharp iron game was on display Tuesday in South Hadley as O’Leary made seven birdies and just two bogeys.

He stands one ahead of Jamieson and two strokes better than Mark Turner (Bass Rocks GC) and Dillon Brown (CC of Halifax), who both finished at 4-under par 138. Those four competitors were the only ones to finish two rounds under par.

Following Tuesday’s round, the starting field was trimmed to the low 54 scorers. Only those competitors will return on Wednesday for a third and final round of 18 holes.

FUTURE TEAMMATES READY FOR FINAL BATTLE

Paired together in the final round will be O’Leary and Jamieson, who are not only two great friends but also future golf teammates at the University of Notre Dame. While Jamieson will be heading to South Bend in two weeks for his freshman year, O’Leary will look to join him in one year’s time after he completes his senior year at Catholic Memorial High School.

“That is going to be pretty cool and really fun,” said O’Leary about being paired with Jamieson on Wednesday. “He is obviously one of my good friends, and I look forward to being one of his teammates.”

The two know each other well both from playing in events together during the summer circuit and – most recently – by spending nearly a week together at the 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship in Kansas. Both Jamieson and O’Leary advanced to match play that week.

“We both had a lot of fun there, and it was almost like we were teammates already,” said O’Leary. “We spent a lot of time together playing in our practice round and hitting balls. We both played well and made match play which was awesome.”

On this day, however, both competitors had their own agendas as they seek their first career MGA Championship title on Wednesday.

O’Leary had the edge on Tuesday as he put together the low round of the tournament.

“I was hitting basically every fairway and every green, so it was a pretty stress-free round,” said O’Leary. “I hit it well and when the putts needed to drop they did.”

His first birdie of the day came on the 502-yard, par 5 5th hole where he hit his 4 iron second shot to 10 feet.

“I missed it but it gave me a chance and got some momentum going early,” said O’Leary. “I started 2 under through 5 and both were 1 foot birdie putts. It was nice and relaxing to get off to such a good start.”

O’Leary marched to the top of the leaderboard midway through his round when he made four straight birdies beginning on the 8th hole. He would play his final seven holes at even par.

“It was definitely my irons,” said O’Leary when asked about the difference maker on day two. “I was giving myself more chances for birdie, and I was able to capitalize on those opportunities today.”

Playing the opposite nines on Tuesday, Jamieson began his round on the 10th hole and made birdie on three of his first six holes.

“I thought that I hit the ball a little better yesterday, but I made a couple more putts today to keep it going along,” said Jamieson. “Overall it was a just another solid day.”

He made the turn at 2-under par and was 3-under through 12 holes after a birdie on the 502-yard, par 5 3rd hole. As the temperatures and humidity increased, Jamieson fought through the challenging conditions.

A key moment on this day came on the 202-yard, par 3 7th hole where he drained a long putt for par. He would make bogey on the next hole and then finish off his round with a par and a score of 3-under par 69.

“It all starts tonight,” said Jamieson about his final-round preparation. “I need to eat a big dinner and get some rest and drink a lot of water. I got pretty tired out there today, so I need to stay on my nutrition tomorrow and just go out there and have a good time.”

And the prospect of playing with his future teammate O’Leary?

“That is really exciting, and I can’t wait for tomorrow,” said Jamieson. “The two of us going to Notre Dame is pretty cool, so I am looking forward to playing with Andrew. We will have fun battling it out, and we’ll see what happens.”

THORBJORNSEN LOOKS FOR STRONG FINISH

Finishing strong has been a mantra of Michael Thorbjorsen (Nashawtuc CC) since the start of the summer. Although just 15 years old, Thorbjorsen has drawn much attention for his poise under the most tense of situations.

To wit, he carded his best score - a 3-under par 69 - during the final round of the 2017 Massachusetts Open Championship in June to finish as co Low Amateur. Last week, he carded a solid even par 72 during round third of the 50th Ouimet Memorial Tournament to secure a T11 finish against one of the strongest fields of amateur competitors from across the region.

"When you are coming from behind not much is expected," said Thorbjorsen. "I just have to have a good round tomorrow and I should move up the leaderboard. I have now played the course a couple of times, and I have a game plan for every hole which really helps.”

Thorbjorsen will be looking for a strong finish after posting back-to-back scores of 1-over par 72 at The Orchards Golf Club. He currently stands T8 overall and first in the battle for the Pre-Junior title.

“I only had one three putt but the problem today was off the tee,” said Thorbjorsen. “I felt that I could not hit a single green if I missed the fairway. Either you are going to get huge flyers or it’s going to come out dead and you can’t get it onto the green.”

Thorbjorsen played the back nine first and made the turn at 1-over par. He fell to 2-over after a bogey on the 355-yard, par 4 2nd hole. He would make one more bogey (on the 5th hole) and then finish with a birdie for his 1-over par round.

“I am looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully have a good finish,” said Thorbjorsen. “Yesterday I was hitting the fairway and wasn’t really in the rough many times and didn’t really take advantage of it and didn’t appreciate that I was in the short grass. Today, I didn’t think that being in the rough was that bad but I realize that it was.”

He holds a one-stroke lead over Jack O’Donnell (Boston GC) who bettered his day-one score of 4-over par 75 with a 1-under par 70 on Tuesday.

“I was playing really well,” said O’Donnell, who was victorious in the what was the final Boys Division competition of this event in 2014. “The putter didn’t work out too great. I hit right around 14 greens. I had four birdies and three bogeys, so I kept the bad holes reasonable and made good birdies.”

O’Donnell was 2-under par through his first 11 holes, but then suffered back-to-back bogeys on the 3rd and 4th holes. He came through with a final birdie on the 523-yard, par 5 9th hole to draw within one of Thorbjorsen.

“I feel like this is a course where the more you play it the better you can play it,” said O’Donnell. “I am feeling confident going into tomorrow. I feel like the practice round and the first round helped me to play well today so I hope that I can keep it going tomorrow.”

THE ORCHARDS GC - A PERFECT HOST

The Mount Holyoke College Athletics web site calls The Orchards Golf Club “a shrine to the game and to its creator.”

It is a fitting statement for a course that serves as the college’s 18-hole championship golf course, which has played host to a handful of top national, regional and local events over the years. Over the past two decades, the historic Donald Ross layout has hosted the following events:

  • 1987 U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship
  • 2001 Massachusetts Amateur Championship
  • 2002 NCAA Women's Division III Finals
  • 2004 U.S. Women's Open Championship
  • 2010 Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Championship

Here is an excerpt – which was posted on the event web site that was set up during the 2004 U.S. Women’s Open Championship – about how this magnificent course came to be.

When Elisabeth Skinner, daughter of a Mount Holyoke trustee, developed a passion for golf, her father, Joseph A. Skinner, decided to build her a golf course. Not one to do things in half-measures, he contracted Donald Ross, the legendary golf course designer, to sculpt The Orchards in 1922.

Donald J. Ross - the legendary architect of The Orchards is considered America's all-time favorite golf course architect. Ross emigrated to the United States from Scotland where he was a professional golfer, groundskeeper and club manufacturer. Ross's genius was his ability to create holes that were perfectly integrated into the landscape. His trademarks were crowned greens, as seen at his masterpiece, Pinehurst #2 in North Carolina.

Today you can still feel Ross's handiwork in every nook and cranny of The Orchards. You can see it in the deep bunkering with grass faces and the way the subtle fairways wind through the cathedral of trees. The Orchards epitomizes golf in its purest form.

Pure and perfect. Two words that summarize the host of this year's 99th Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship.

MATCH PLAY TO MAKE A RETURN IN 2018

Earlier today, the MGA officially announced that Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship will undergo a change next season that will take it back to its original roots.

Effective in 2018, the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship will include both stroke and match play. It will be only the second event - joining the Massachusetts Amateur Championship - on the MGA's competitive schedule that features match play.

“We are excited to introduce these young competitors to a new experience that has deep roots here in the Commonwealth,” said Kevin Eldridge, the MGA’s director of rules & competition. “The mix of stroke and match play is something that will only further enhance what is the third oldest championship on the MGA’s schedule.”

The competitors will take part in two days of stroke play. The field will then be reduced to the low 16 scorers, who will continue on to match play. The rounds of 16 and quarterfinals will take place on the third day with the semifinals and final 18-hole match to be completed on day four.

Eldridge also announced that the four-day Championship Proper - which will be celebrating its 100th year of competition - will be held at Belmont Country Club on August 6-9, 2018.

While this marks a change in format, it is not necessarily something new.

In 1914, the MGA launched the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship because the Boston Interscholastic Championship had not been contested in 1913. At the time, the Boston Interscholastic was often referred to as the Boston Schoolboy Tourney and had crowned champions such as Francis Ouimet (in 1909 and 1910).  

The MGA continued the tradition in 1914 and crowned its first champion – Raymond Ouimet – in what was a match-play format. That year, Ouimet defeated Edward Hubbard at Oakley Country Club by a score of 5 and 4.

Over the years, the Championship would transition to a full stroke-play competition, one that is currently 54 holes played over three days.

Just last year, the MGA made modifications – following the lead of the USGA – to its age eligibility criteria. Effective in 2017, the maximum age for competitors in the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship was raised from 17 to 18 years old. The same modification was made for the USGA's two junior championships in order to bring those championships more in line with the worldwide standards for junior golfers.

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NEWS & NOTES FROM ROUND 2

Recruiting Heaven – The Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship dates are circled in most collegiate golf coach calendars, especially those whose schools are located in New England. After all, the three-day event is one of the few opportunities that these coaches have to see – first hand and up close – future talent compete in a pure stroke-play event over 54 holes. Coaches from Saint Anselm College and Clemson University were just two of many schools on site this week.

Faxon Ties – It is not widely known, but Brad Faxon – an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour – captured the Pre-Junior Division title in 1976. He went on to win the New England Amateur Championship in 1980 and 1981 before embarking on a successful professional career which continues to this day on the Champions Tour. Other current Tour players who have ties to this event as either an overall or divisional champion include James Driscoll (Web.Com Tour), Jon Curran (PGA Tour), and Peter Uihlein (European Tour).

Before the YGA – Three years ago, the MGA introduced the Massachusetts Young Golfers’ Amateur Championship which replaced the Boys Division competition which had been a part of the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship for many years prior. The inaugural “YGA” title was won in 2015 by Michael Thorbjornsen, and remains open to competitors who are 13 years and younger. This year’s title was captured earlier this month by Joseph Lenane of George Wright GC.

A First Tee Star Heads to Pebble Beach – On July 5th, The First Tee announced the names of the 81 junior players competing in this year’s Pure Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach on September 22-24. The PGA Tour Champions event, which impacts The First Tee program, groups one senior player with one junior First Tee participant (age 15-18) and two fellow amateurs. This will mark the 14th edition of the tournament, which is contested at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Poppy Hills Golf Course. Included in that list was Jared Winiarz, who is in this week’s field and who has been a longtime participate of The First Tee of Massachusetts.

Glaringly Bright Future – The future of golf is on full display this week in South Hadley. Many of the contenders in this week’s field have enjoyed a very busy month competing in the state’s top amateur competition against some of the region’s best. At last week’s Ouimet Memorial Tournament, Michael Thorbjornsen (T11), Dillon Brown (T18), Nicholas Cummings (T18), Mark Turner (T22), Chris Francoeur (T30) and James Imai (34) advanced to the third round, while Jack Boulger and Thomas Roberts were also in the field. Earlier in July, Francoeur, Andrew O’Leary and Boulger advanced to match play at the 2017 Massachusetts Amateur Championship.

BC High Represents With Eight – A total of five members of the Boston College High School golf team are competing in this week’s Championship Proper. Included on that team are Nathan Ingram, Jack O'Donnell, Mike Dunderdale, Joe Paolucci, Grant Griswold, Clayton Piantedosi, Will Strauss, and Liam Canavan. Head Coach Chris Hayes’ team finished third at the 2016 Division 1 State Final

It’s Girls’ Time – Although this week’s Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship is open to both girls and boys, the girls will have an event of their own next week when the WGAM hosts the WGAM Junior, Junior-Junior and Mite Championships. The two-day event will be hosted on August 8-9 at South Shore Country Club. Angela Garvin of The Ranch GC is the reigning Junior Champion.

All in the Family: While Andrew DiPetrillo is competing here in South Hadley, his older sister Sophie DiPetrillo is on the North Shore looking to claim the WGAM Amateur Championship title at Myopia Hunt Club. Sophie is a rising junior at and a member of the University of Richmond women’s golf team. Sophie was defeated in the round of 32 today by Mary Chamberlain during Tuesday’s first round of match play. One year ago, Andrew kept the DiPetrillo tradition going by winning the 2016 New England Junior Invitational. It was a title that his sister had won the two years prior. In 2014, Andrew captured the Pre-Junior Division title at this event.

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