Barrington, RI — Entering the final day of the 83rd Tri-State Matches, held this year at Rhode Island Country Club, Team Massachusetts knew it would need a full 12-member effort to continue their recent success in the annual tournament.
Trailing by double-digit points after the first day of play, the Bay State squad came out firing on day two to capture a record 13th straight Tri-State Matches title over the likes of foes Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The victory marked the 34th championship overall for Team Massachusetts dating back to the tournament’s inaugural year in 1928.
Competing in singles matches on Wednesday, the team’s 12 members added 42½ points to their day-one 14-point score to finish the two-day tournament with 56½ points, ahead of Rhode Island’s 54½ points and Connecticut’s 51.
“Thirteen straight Tri-State titles is impressive,” said Jesse Menachem, the MGA’s executive director. “We had a lot of returning players, which is nice, but to mix in some new faces onto the team, both seniors and mid-amateurs, was special. I think that it shows the quality and depth of play that we have, which enabled us to rebound from a round-one deficit.”Leading the charge for the Bay State during the singles matches was 2016 New England Senior Amateur runner-up Jack Kearney (Elmcrest CC) and newly-elected Massachusetts Golf Hall of Famer member Frank Vana, Jr. (Andover CC), who each tallied 5½ of a possible six points in their respective matches.
Two-time Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) added five of his own points as each member on the group recorded at least one point in the winning effort.
After earning just 14 points during the first day of competition, Team Massachusetts held the day-one leader Rhode Island to only 30½ points in Wednesday’s singles matches. Connecticut earned 35 points during Wednesday’s singles matches, but it proved not enough to counter the 16 points they collected on Tuesday.
“It was a great feeling for us all to come out today, perform well and have all teammates contribute to the win,” said Vana, who was competing in his 22nd Tri-State Match. “We compete against each other all season long, so it’s fun to come out here as a team and represent our state. It’s a huge honor and means a lot to each one of us.”
In Wednesday’s singles matches, Vana and Kearney each dominated their individual matches. Vana finished with seven birdies and one bogey on the day to hold Connecticut’s Brian Ahern to 3½ points. Rhode Island’s representative in the match, Bobby Leopold, was unable to garner any points.
Kearney, one of the team’s four senior-amateur players, held Tom Brett (Connecticut) to only two points and Dean Parziale (Rhode Island) to 1½ points. His 5½ points also tied Connecticut’s Dave Szewczul for the most among senior amateur players.
Even with their success on Wednesday, the effort would not have been sufficient without the top performances from teams in Tuesday’s foursome matches. The duo of Ryan Riley (Thorny Lea GC) and John Kelly (Twins Hills CC)had accounted for a maximum six points on Tuesday.
Their performance was crucial to the overall success of the team as the points accumulated over the two days were added to determine the event’s winner.
For each match, one point is available for the front nine, back nine, and overall match. For round two, the front nine and back nine will be considered the players first nine holes and second nine holes.
Also scoring crucial points for Team Massachusetts were Jordan Burke, Daniel Cappucci and Brian Secia, who tallied four apiece. Keith Smith (3½), Alex Jeffers (3), Ryan Riley (3),Chris Gentle (2½), John Kelly (1½) and Kevin Carey (1) rounded out the scoring for Massachusetts as they built on their own Tri-State record for consecutive victories.
Wednesday’s final round of the Tri-State Matches were the last competitive event of the season for each of the three state golf associations. Next year’s event, for which Massachusetts will look for their 14th straight title, will be hosted by Team Connecticut.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?