PLYMOUTH, Mass – Plymouth Country Club member Jon Stoddard parlayed his home-course advantage into a superb four-under 65 to lead the 57th edition of the Hornblower Memorial Invitational by one shot. Playing in his eighth Hornblower, Stoddard shot 32-33 on the Donald Ross par-69 (34-35) layout. One shot behind are Dillon Brown, Caleb Manuel, and Ricky Stimets.
Stoddard, who always plays well in this event and lost in a playoff to Thorny Lea’s Matt Parziale in 2018, kept his ball away from trouble and used his knowledge of the fast, undulating greens to record five birdies and only one bogey. He will need a similar round tomorrow to fend off the challengers, which include six more players under par and six others at even.
“Yes, I’m excited and looking forward to the opportunity to play in the Hornblower on Saturday against some of the best players from around New England,” said Stoddard after his round. “I’m hoping I can use my recent experience at the U.S. Fourball to give me enough confidence to come out and get the job done on my home course. Everyone who helps put this tournament together does such a great job, so a shout out to them, including the maintenance staff who gets the course in such great condition for this event.”
The players teed off on the first and tenth from 6:30 am through 2:45 pm, the final two threesomes putting out on their 18th around 7:30 pm. Of the 156 who were invited to play, 46 players will return for tomorrow’s final round. The cut was at 73, with 17 players hitting that magic number.
The consensus of the players was that the short 8th hole, at 140 yards with a two-tiered green that slopes drastically from top of the green to the bottom was the most difficult hole on the course. The back right pin placement resulted in tee shots that either spun the ball off the green or hitting the top tier flew over into the bunker or the high rough. The par-5 16th at 505 yards was reachable in two and provided many birdies and a few eagles.
Dillon Brown, Halifax CC, just completed his junior year at the University of Maryland, where he is on the golf team. He shot a 34-32, bogeying his first hole and doubling the par-3 8th, but then he added four birdies and an eagle (on the only par 5, the 16th) Although young in age, he is a veteran of the Hornblower campaigns and was twice low junior at the event while attending nearby Silver Lake Regional HS. He has set his sights on beating the big boys this year.
Caleb Manuel, Brunswick GC in Maine, shot his 32-34 with three bogeys and six birdies. Manuel has been the Maine State Golf Association (MSGA) Player of the Year, and in May of 2020, he shot a course record 13-under 59 at his home course.
Former pro Ricky Stimets, Worcester CC, played in the final group of the day and recorded his impressive 33-33 after 153 players had putted out ahead of him. His round included four bogeys and seven birdies. With his return to amateur status, Stimets has been a premier competitor and was ranked 13th in the 2020 MGA Player of the Year standings.
Very much in the hunt with 67’s are Doug Clapp and Tommy Ethier. Clapp, from nearby Old Sandwich GC, has been a premier performer in New England for years, lost the Hornblower in a playoff, and has competed in 15 USGA championships and three British Amateurs. Ethier is a rising senior and golfer at Bentley University and a native of Nashua, New Hampshire.
Four are three back at 68: Samuel Barton, Kingswood GC (NH); Sean Fitzpatrick, George Wright GC; former Hornblower champ Bobby Leopold, Wannamoisett GC; and Colin Spencer, Cummaquid GC.
Six are in striking distance at even-par 69: Jack Boulger, John Broderick, Jonathan Elkins, Brandon Parker, Patrick Sheehan, and Steven Tasho.
Defending champ Nick Maccario shot 71 (T-24) and last year’s runner-up Chris Francoeur shot 70 (T-17). Other players of note include Jared Winiarz (70), former champion Matt Parziale (71), Herbie Aikens (71), and former champions John Hadges (72) and Jack Kearney (73).
The Hornblower Memorial weekend began Thursday afternoon with the traditional Pro-Am and dinner following the golf. The event was a two-best-ball (one gross and one net) of the foursome. Hornblower participant Mike Petric, from Greathorse GC (near Springfield) led his team of Mark Bradley, Jimmy Russo, and Brian Sullivan to victory with a 14-under par 55. Petric made the cut on the number.
The public is cordially invited onsite for the final round at Plymouth Country Club June 5.