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Match Play next at Massachusetts Amateur, Two Medal
Jackson Lang (L) and Andrew O'Leary (R) share medalist honors <br>(MGA Photo)
Jackson Lang (L) and Andrew O'Leary (R) share medalist honors
(MGA Photo)

HYDE PARK, MA (July 10, 2018) - What began as a field of 144 was trimmed to just 32 following the stroke play portion of the 110th Massachusetts Amateur Championship which is being held at the two City of Boston golf courses. Following Monday’s first round which was contested at William J. Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park, the entire field moved to George Wright Golf Course to take part in a second 18 holes to determine the match play bracket.

Those 32 competitors will now look forward to the start of match play on Wednesday beginning at 8:00 a.m. This year’s cut line fell at 4-over par 144 with the final 9 spots being decided in a 10-for-9 sudden-death playoff on Tuesday evening in Hyde Park.

Weather permitting, the first two rounds of match play – round of 32 and round of 16 – will be contested on Wednesday in Hyde Park. 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. Joining in on the celebration come Friday will be representatives from Mass Golf and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department as well Mayor Marty Walsh.

A LEGEND AND THE FUTURE reunite

Andrew O’Leary (Pawtucket CC) and Jackson Lang (Nashawtuc CC) may be a combined one third of the age of Harry McCracken, Jr., but the respect they have for the 92 year old transcends generations.

Both young competitors finished the stroke-play portion of the 110th Massachusetts Amateur Championship with a score of 4-under par 136, which earned them a share of the Harry B. McCracken, Jr. Stroke Play Medalist Award, which is reserved for the individual or individuals who post(s) the lowest cumulative score following the 36-hole stroke-play portion of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship.

The ceremony for stroke-play medalist was held on the patio at George Wright Golf Course on Tuesday evening where McCracken was on site to hand out the medals to both O’Leary, who is 18 years old and Lang, who turned 21 just 10 days ago.

“It is a pleasure to be here to present this award to two very deserving young men,” said McCracken, who has been a fixture at Mass Golf, New England Golf Association (NEGA) and United States Golf Association (USGA) events since 1969 and currently serves as executive secretary/treasurer of the NEGA. “They should be very proud of what they have accomplished here this week.”

Both O’Leary and Lang have been selected over the years to represent Team Massachusetts at the New England Junior Amateur Invitational, which is an event organized by the NEGA.

Although he was responsible for the event which featured teams from all six New England states, McCracken, as a long-time Westwood resident and a past Mass Golf president, has always held a special place for Team Massachusetts which welcomed Lang as a member of Team Massachusetts in 2014 and 2015 and then O’Leary in 2015 and 2016.

“The guy is a legend,” said Lang. “He has been around amateur golf for so long. To win an award named after him makes it just a little bit more special for sure.”

Nearly an hour after Lang completed his second round – which was a day-low score of 5-under par 65 – O’Leary drained a birdie putt on his final hole of the day to equal Lang’s mark of 5-under par 65 and capture a share of the top spot.

“After yesterday I wouldn’t have expected to win,” said O’Leary, a Catholic Memorial High School graduate who will be attending University of Notre Dame in the fall. “My goal today was to get top 10, shoot a couple under and get a good seed, but coming in first is special. I don’t think that I have ever come in first at an event as big as this. I am definitely really excited.”

This year marks the second year that this award has been given out formerly. In 2017, Steven Dilisio earned the first-ever Harry B. McCracken, Jr. Stroke Play Medalist Award at Charles River Country Club.

Jackson Lang Happy to Ride the Streak

When word spread to Jackson Lang that he might have earned medalist honors, a wide smile spread across his face. After posting a 1-over par 71 on Monday at William J. Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park, Lang fired a day-low score of 5-under par 65 at George Wright Golf Course to move from the top quarter of the leaderboard all the way to the very top.

“I was not expecting that,” said Lang, who just completed his senior season at Davidson College where he led the golf team with a 73.93 stroke average. “That is really cool.

One year ago, Lang finished one stroke off medalist pace during stroke play but went on to advance to the semifinals where he was defeated by eventual champion Matt Parziale by a score of 1 up. In just his fifth appearance at this Championship Proper, Lang has now advanced to match play four times and the trend has been positive as he has advanced to the round of 16 (2014), quarterfinals (2016) and most recently the semifinals (2017).

“It is a lot better if you try to have fun with it,” said Lang about his evolving mindset when it comes to match play. “I remember when I first qualified for match play three or four years ago I was really intense about it. I think that I won my first match, but it was really tight. I remember thinking that I was better than the other guy I was playing, but I was really struggling so much. In the last couple of years I have been better about taking it easy and just playing my game and whatever happens will happen.”

With temperatures soaring into the mid 90s on Tuesday, it was only appropriate that Lang rode a hot putter. He began his round by draining a 15-foot putt on his second hole of the day which was a sign of good things to come.

“I was lucky enough to see a 15 footer on two go in which got me in the right mindset for the rest of the round,” said Lang who would make the turn at 1-over par 36 after following up a bogey on the 6th hole with a birdie on the 8th hole.

A bogey on the 10th hole quickly became a distant memory as Lang would make five birdies through his final eight holes. He capped off his round with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.

“Today was about doing the same thing you always try to do which is take it shot by shot,” said Lang. “Luckily for me the putter got really hot today, and I saw some mid-range 20 footers and 15 footers fall. It was all about putting it in the middle of the green and seeing what I could do from there. I was lucky to see some fall.”

While happy with his accomplishment over the past two days, Lang quickly turned his attention and full focus to the next task at hand. As the top seed in the bracket, Lang will face the No. 32 seed, Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich GC), who advanced into match play following the 9-for-10 playoff.

“It is really fun winning medalist for the stroke play part, but the real fun is in the match play and that is what I am here for,” said Lang. “It’s a nice little cherry on top, but going out and playing tomorrow is what it is all about.”

Next Stop For These Four: Baltusrol

Tuesday’s second day of stroke play for the Massachusetts Amateur Championship was part of the final test for four golfers who will be traveling south next week with even more championship aspirations.

Junior golfers Mark Turner, Dillon Brown, James Imai and Andrew DiPetrillo, all in this week’s field, are among the 156 competitors who will descend on Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey for the 71st playing of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship from July 16-21. Similar to this week’s format, the four Bay Staters will experience two days of stroke play before the field is cut to the top-64 competitors, who will play in match play until a champion is crowned.

Having either qualified for this week’s championship or earned exemption due to previous success, these four competitors are using this week’s state amateur championship as a final tune-up in preparation for facing the top-junior competitors from across the world.

With experience playing in both previous U.S. Junior Amateur Championships, as well as the match play portion of the state amateur championship, Gloucester’s Mark Turner knows the importance of doing well this week in order to perfect next week’s competition.

“There’s 36-holes of stroke play, then you go into the match play, so there is the same format up here and down there,” said Turner, who is in his last year of eligibility for the junior competition. “It’s preparation. This tournament is huge. I love it, and it’s one of my favorite events all year. To be able go down there for my last year, it’ll be fun to hopefully battle out head-to-head, if I make it that far.”

Fellow competitor Dillon Brown, who is scheduled to play a practice round Saturday morning with Turner at Baltusrol, believes this week’s play, which saw both he and Turner advance to the match play competition, will help prepare him for what he is to expect.

“This is a pretty good prep for [the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship],” said the Halifax native, who will be competing in his first USGA Junior Championship Proper. “Same format, two rounds of stroke play and then it’s 32 here and 64 there. The level of play is probably a little stronger there, so it’s probably similar to make match play in both tournaments. I’m really looking forward to playing match play and getting used to the strategies.”

While neither James Imai or Andrew DiPetrillo were able to get past this week’s stroke-play portion, both still felt that it was a good final warmup before next week.

“Essentially, it’s going to be the same mentality of trying to get into match play,” said Imai on the similarities between the Massachusetts Amateur and the upcoming U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. “That is everyone’s goal heading into these tournaments.. It’s going to be really good preparation with trying to grind on a tough course and make match play.”

Like Imai, Andrew DiPetrillo, a recent graduate of Buckingham, Browne and Nichols, who heads to his first U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, said the grind this week will hopefully benefit him on the national stage.

“I really went into this trying to get my mind set right for the two-day stroke play [in hopes of] qualifying for the match play,” explained the Dover native prior to his second round.

Having played primarily match play formats throughout his high school career, compared to the mostly stroke-play format offered in both Mass Golf and USGA qualifiers, DiPetrillo hopes that too will be key, if he were to advance in either Championship.

The quartet of U.S. Junior Amateur bound competitors will join the likes of Wellesley’s Michael Thorbjornsen, who was exempt into the championship field, and Northampton’s Peter Bowie.

The first round will be contested on Monday.

ABOUT THE Massachusetts Amateur

Qualifying - 18 Holes at Stroke Play to determine 32 Qualifiers for Match Play. Entries are open to amateur golfers who have an active MGA/GHIN Handicap Index at any public, private, semi-private, municipal or non-real estate MGA member course/club not exceeding 4.4.

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