MANCHESTER, Vermont – John McNeill has come up just short of winning several statewide and regional championships in previous years. But finally, over the past month, the 60-year old amateur has come up big.
McNeill, who is not affiliated with any public or private club, but is well-known on the Amateur Golf Tour of New England, followed up his victory in last month’s Senior Hornblower Championship by taking home the 24th New England Senior Amateur Championship at Vermont’s Manchester Country Club.
McNeill, the Dean of Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, said passion and love for the game fueled his drive toward winning a championship.
“This one is a big deal,” McNeill said, who has played on the Amateur Golf Tour of New England since 1992. “I love playing the game, and I love the people you play with. The camaraderie with the seniors is great, and winning is just a bonus.”
McNeill, said his opening-round 4-under 68 on was his first bogey-free round in the past 30 years. What he didn’t know then was that’s all it would take to take home his first-ever New England Golf Association title.
He began the final round four strokes ahead of Connecticut’s Bob Murphy, Bill Hermanson, and Dave Jones, all tied for second place. Through 14 holes Wednesday September 15, McNeill stood at 1-under overall (3-over for round) and held a 1-stroke lead, but play was suspended at 1:11 p.m. for a dangerous situation (lightning). At 2:39 p.m., the second round was officially canceled, and scores were reverted to the first-round leaderboard.
“While we hoped to be able to finish the round, the weather forecast was unfavorable for the remainder of the day, and we were unable to complete play in a safe manner,” said Greg Howell, Director of Operations for the New England Golf Association. “We are thankful to the players for their patience on a very difficult day. We also appreciate the staff and members of Manchester CC for being gracious hosts.”
And while Mother Nature stood in the way of a full 36-hole championship, “In a way, I don’t care how it happened, I’m just glad I had a good round yesterday,” McNeill added.
Also taking home some hardware were Andy Congdon (Wyantenuck CC) and Bob Kearney (Bretwood GC, NH), who split the Super Senior Division (65-over) title by shooting 1-over 73 in the lone round that counted.
(Content from the New England Golf Association was used in this report)
PHOTO CREDIT: David Colt