NORTON, Massachusetts – Amateur golf in the Bay State enjoyed an historic year in 2018, highlighted by the introduction of Mass Golf (formerly known as Mass Golf Association) as the new home for men and women’s golf in Massachusetts.
Mass Golf has announced the recipients of several prestigious postseason awards to recognize some of the top-performers in both the Championship and Women’s Championship events from this past season, as well as to recognize Mass Golf competitors for their play in both regional and USGA Championship play this past year. In recognition of the 2018 season, Mass Golf invites all of the 2018 champions as well as friends, family, fellow competitors and golf enthusiasts for the 2018 Mass Golf Champions Dinner scheduled Tuesday, January 15, 2019 at Wellesley Country Club.
Upon final tallies of respective Mass Golf Player of the Year point systems, Mass Golf has announced the recipients of the 2018 Richard D. Haskell Player of the Year, the Anne Marie Tobin Women’s Player of the Year, the George M. Cohen Senior Player of the Year, the Christopher Cutler Rich Junior Player of the Year and the Women’s Mid-Amateur Award.
After completing a milestone season that saw him compete in the 2018 Masters Tournament, net co-low amateur honors at the U.S. Open and compete in three USGA nationals Championships and a plethora of top invitational events across both the country and the world, Mass Golf announced that Brockton’s Matt Parziale has been selected as the 2018 recipient of the Richard D. Haskell Player of the Year. This marks the third straight year for the former U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Parziale to receive the honor and the fifth time overall since 2009 – making him the second winningest Player of the Year since the award was first introduced in 1976.
Joining Parziale among this year’s recipients are Frank Vana, Jr. – the George M. Cohen Senior Player of the Year recipient, James Imai as the Christopher Cutler Rich Junior Player of the Year recipient and 2018 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Shannon Johnson as both the Anne Marie Tobin Women’s Player of the Year and the recipient of the Women’s Mid-Amateur award.
The announcement of the 2018 post season awards was made by the Championship Committee under the direction of Kevin Eldridge, Mass Golf’s Director of Rules & Competition.
“After a historic season for Mass Golf, we are thrilled to announce that based on their performances throughout the 2018 competitive season, Matt Parziale, Frank Vana, Jr., James Imai and Shannon Johnson have accumulated the most points in their respective divisions and have earned the prestigious honor of being named Mass Golf Players of the Year,” said Eldridge. “With their top play, all four competitors not only wowed local audiences across the Bay State golf scene, but they put Mass Golf on the map across New England and the United States with class, and we are thrilled that we get to honor their hard work.”
MATT PARZIALE Captures Richard D. Haskell Player of the Year
After making his debut in the Masters Tournament in April, the result of Parziale winning the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur championship, the Brockton firefighter competed in U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club – earning co-low amateurs honors with Luis Gagne. He saw action in the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach and advanced to match play at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Charlotte Country Club, while already qualifying for next year’s U.S. Four-Ball Championship with playing partner and fellow Bay State golfer Herbie Aikens.
Locally, he finished T3 at the Massachusetts Four-Ball in May, captured the Hornblower Memorial at Plymouth Country Club in June, while also advancing to the quarterfinals of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship at George Wright and placing runner-up at the Ouimet Memorial Tournament at Concord Country Club and Woodland Golf Club.
He also received the award as the Bay State’s top performer in 2009, 2014, 2016 and 2017.
FRANK VANA, JR. Captures George M. Cohen Senior Player of the Year
For the second time since becoming eligible to compete in senior competitions, Sudbury native and Boxford resident Frank Vana, Jr. has been named the top senior player in Massachusetts. Already the winningest player in Massachusetts golf history, as the nine-time Richard D. Haskell Player of the Year, two-time player of the decade and a 2016 Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame inductee, Vana was victorious in the senior division of the Ouimet Memorial Tournament at Concord Country Club and Woodland Golf Club, qualified for the U.S. Senior Open Championship, competed in the U.S. and British Senior Amateur Championships and placed fourth at the Senior Hornblower Memorial Tournament.
In Mass Golf Championships, Vana, Jr. won a record 10th Massachusetts Mid-Amateur championship via a sudden death playoff at Plymouth Country Club in mid-September, then followed up the individual triumph by collecting similar accolades at the Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship at Pine Brook Country Club. His 2018 season also featured a T6 finish at the New England Senior Amateur Championship in Burlington, Vt and a T2 finish at the Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Championship.
JAMES IMAI Captures Christopher Cutler Rich Junior Player of the Year
Brookline’s Imai, a Northwestern University commit, had a milestone season on the links in 2018, highlighted by individual performances in both local and national events.
Among the highlights of his season, the 17-year old first captured the stroke play medalist honors by firing a 36-hole score of 6-under 136 before cruising to the final round of the match play portion of the tournament. In the final round, Imai needed 22 holes to defeat Needham’s David Rogers in capturing his second career state Junior Amateur title.
On the national stage, he advanced to match play at the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at Baltusrol, one of six Bay Staters in the field, and also competed at the U.S. Amateur three weeks later at Pebble Beach. Additionally, he won the US Challenge Cup Amateur Invitational at New England Country Club as well as both the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour’s Orlando Shootout and Connecticut Spring Junior Open. He was one of three Bay Staters to compete for team Keegan Bradley at the inaugural Major Champions Invitational in March at Bella Collina – a lead up to the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Most recently, he captured the MIAA Division I Individual title in the final high school contest of his career.
This is his second Junior Player of the Year accolade (2016).
SHANNON JOHNSON Captures Mid-Amateur Award and Anne Marie Tobin Women’s Player of the Year
Having successfully mastered one of the most prolific seasons in Massachusetts golf history, Norton resident Shannon Johnson made her case for why she was not only one of the top amateur golfers in the region, but why her name could easily be included amongst the nation’s top-amateur golfers.
After competing in the 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball at California’s El Caballero Country Club, the South Dakota transplant and Ping representative won the Edith Noblit Baker Trophy in June, the New England Women’s Amateur Championship in July and her first career Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship in August.
Johnson become the first female in Massachusetts golf history to qualify for the Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship, an event she finished T48 at, and also won the Grace Keyes Cup.
On the national stage, the 35-year old Johnson made national headlines for capturing the 2018 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship – first netting stroke play medalist honors with a 72-71-143 mark over 36 holes before victories of 6&5, 2&1, 6&5, 3&2, 7&5 and 1 up in the match play portion of the tournament. With her 1 up win over reigning champion Kelsey Chugg, Johnson earned an automatic berth into the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open Championship at The Country Club of Charleston next May.
Additionally, Johnson and fellow Bay State competitor Megan Buck qualified for the 2019 U.S. Women’s Four-Ball Championship.
This marks the second time as the recipient of the Anne Marie Tobin Women’s Player of the Year Award after claiming the award in 2016 while this will be the third time receiving the Women’s Mid-Amateur Award (2015, 16) since the award began in 2007. The Women’s Mid-Amateur Award is presented annually to the Class A player – age of 25 & over – who scores the lowest combined gross score in two events: the qualifying round of the Women’s Amateur Championship and the Keyes Cup (36-holes).
Photo Credit: Mass Golf