NEWTON, MA – Throughout his stellar amateur career, Matt Parziale has won many ways – from in front, coming from behind and with his putter.
Taking five days, five matches and 140 holes of pressure golf, the 30-year old Brockton fireman stepped up his game to deliver a remarkable performance at historic Charles River Country Club, to capture the 109th Massachusetts Amateur Championship – winning the 36-hole finals match 4 & 3 over gritty James Madison University senior Matt Cowgill.
“I came here this week ready to play. This is a tournament I’ve always wanted to win.”
With its meticulously-groomed, sloping greens, par is always your friend at Charles River CC, but right out the starting gate Matt Parziale went low. He parred No. 1, birdied No. 2 and birdied No. 3 to go three-up. With all cylinders of his game working to perfection, hitting every green in regulation on the front side, Parziale compiled a 5-up advantage after 18. Cowgill did not win a hole until No. 11.
After a 45-minute lunch break, the talented duo continued the battle, with Parziale hitting the defining shot of the day on the 546-yard, par 5 second hole – the 20th of the match. From 239-yards out he hit a laser-like 2-iron that hit the flagstick, settling inches from the cup.
Another crisp 9-iron on the 159-yard, par 3 fourth hole (22nd of the match) and Parziale held a commanding 7-up lead. At that point, it was pretty much game, set, match; and the contingent of supporters from Thorny Lea Golf Club were jubilant that TLGC would be the proud home of yet another state amateur champion, joining Ed Connell (1955), John Tosca Jr. (1959/1970), Bruce Douglas (1975/1976), Steve Tasho (1981/1985), and John Hadges (2008/2010).
A brief rally by Matt Cowgill, producing a 2-under par score through the 15 afternoon holes was not enough, as Parziale sealed the victory with a two-putt birdie on the 15th hole, a 505-yard, par 5.
“I came here this week ready to play,” said a happy Paziale, who lost 1-down to Thorny Lea clubmate John Hadges in the 2008 finals at The Kittansett Club. “This is a tournament I’ve always wanted to win. I was close in 2008, and it’s been tough getting back to the finals. I wasn’t as tired then. Playing 48 holes yesterday (Day 4) was exhausting and I’m just happy to have survived that last overtime match. Matt hits is straight and putts really well. He really has good control of his shots and is just a really good player. This win is nice. Today is special.”
As a result of his performance this week, Parziale’s name will appear on the prestigious Massachusetts Cup alongside Bay State Hall of Famers such as Donald Ross, Francis Ouimet, Fred Wright, Ted Bishop and Frank Vana. Former Mass Amateur winners who have advanced to PGA Tour careers include Bill Mallon, Bruce Douglass, James Hallett, Fran Quinn, James Driscoll and Rob Oppenheim.
Matt Cowgill’s Got Game
Twenty-one year old Matt Cowgill, a product of Weston High School and +2 handicap at Wayland Country Club, is the reigning Massachusetts Amateur Public Links champion. He has every intention of defending that title Aug. 8-9 at Pinehills Golf Club (Plymouth) before heading back to Harrisburg, Virginia to complete his senior year at James Madison University, where he plays in the No. 2 slot on the golf team.
Cowgill fired rounds of 70-72 to be seeded No. 4 in the top-32 match play portion. He beat Adam Trivillino (Hyannis GC) 5 & 4, then Zack Camarra (Worcester CC) 5 & 4, and clipped David Spitz (South Shore CC) 2-up before ousting red-hot Billy Walthouse (Longmeadow CC) in 19 holes.
“I came here and exceeded my expectations for the week,” said Cowgill, whose father Richard caddied for him for 27 holes. “Before the tournament if anyone offered me second place in the Mass Amateur, I would take it and be happy. He (Parziale) definitely took advantage of those holes in the beginning. I was trying to do exactly what he did but I couldn’t get going early enough. That is the key to take advantage of those holes in the beginning. There are plenty of birdie holes out there, but I just couldn’t get them to go in. When you make birdie, you are thinking that you will win the hole and when he still has the honor on the next tee it stinks. Matt’s a great player.”
So, on this special day, and during this memorable week, competing in one of the oldest and most prestigious amateur golf tournaments in the country – after a nine-year hiatus – the 2017 Massachusetts State Amateur title belongs to Matt Parziale.
Mass Amateur Notebook
Medalist Steven DiLisio (Salem CC) shot 69-68 was eliminated in the round of 16 by Cody Books (Greenfield CC) 1 up… DiLisio was honored with the first annual Harry B. McCracken Stroke Play Medalist Award, named after long-time MGA volunteer and Charles River CC member Harry McCracken… Eight former champions competed: Brendan Hunter (2016), John Kelly (2014), Ryan Riley (2011), John Hadges (2008/2010), Ben Spitz (2006), Frank Vana (2004/2005), Andy Drohen (2003) and Brendan Hester (2001)… Steven DiLisio aced the 177-yard, par 3 fourteenth hole in round one while Stephen Demare (George Wright GC) aced the 152-yard, par 3 fourth hole during the round of 32… Four pairs of brothers qualified: Andrew and Dan Howard (Norfolk GC), Charlie and Will Campbell (Captains GC), James and Mark Turner (Bass Rocks), Ben Spitz (George Wright) and David Spitz (South Shore)… No relation but the first day pairings included Ryan Riley (Pine Oaks), Ryan Riley (Sterling National) and Michael Reilly (Tour Greater Boston)… The average age of the 2017 field was 30… Youngest players in the field were 14-year old Conner Willett (Charles River) and Will Campbell (Captains)… The 2018 Mass Amateur is scheduled July 9-13 at George Wright GC and Franklin Park GC.