PLYMOUTH, MA – Matt Parziale, the reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion and Massachusetts Golf Association Player of the Year, added to his impressive laurels June 1 -2 with a dramatic playoff victory over Jonathan Stoddard in the 54th edition of the Hornblower Memorial Championship.
On the demanding 6,408-yard Donald Ross-designed Plymouth Country Club par 69 layout, the 30-year old Brockton fireman and Thorny Lea Golf Club member shot a second round, one-under 68, to complement his opening round 70. He bypassed four of the five players who were ahead of him—Dave Spitz (67-77), Ryan Tombs (68-75), Ben Spitz (68-71), and Bryson Richards (68-75)—and caught the fifth, Plymouth CC member Jonathan Stoddard, whose even par 69s tied both players at 138.
With a large gallery watching, on the first playoff hole, the 18th, a 386-yard uphill, dogleg left par 4, Parziale hit his drive on top of the plateaued fairway and knocked his second shot to the elevated green 30 feet above the hole. Stoddard’s drive, however, found thick rough to the left, and he could not get the ball on the green. A chip left him eight feet for par. Parziale rolled his first putt 10 feet past the hole, leaving him still away, but he then made the putt for par. Stoddard’s attempt hit the hole but refused to fall so it was game, set, match – Parziale, which was his second Hornblower win. He won his first Hornblower in 2007 when he was on break from Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL while also leading that team to a national championship.
“I’m extremely proud to have won this great tournament for the second time,” Parziale said in a post-round interview. “I love playing here at Plymouth. The course and the members always make this event a fun time. I was certainly lucky to make the playoff with Jonathan Stoddard, who played really well both days, and I was very fortunate to make a nice putt on the first playoff hole.”
The current Mass Amateur and Ouimet Memorial champ, whose many social media friends and fans call themselves “Mattsters” would like to continue his excellent play in the next few weeks as he prepares to play the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island (June 14-17) and the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach (August 13-19). His Mid-Amateur win also provided him an invitation to the 87-player 2018 Masters, where he missed the cut shooting 81-79.
“If I have to lose to anyone, I’ll take losing to the guy who’s playing in the U.S. Open next week, anytime,” said Stoddard, a Duxbury High School and Bentley College graduate. “I’ll admit it was pretty intimidating even though I had home course advantage.”
Stoddard, a Plymouth-native, has played in five Hornblowers and said his course knowledge was an advantage for him, especially on the fast, undulating greens, where he putted extremely well both days. Recently, he started a new job with Acushnet/Titleist, successfully mingling his vocation with his avocation.
Dillon Brown, (70-72) the 2017 Hornblower Junior Champion, defended his title but shared it with Michael Thorbjornsen (74-68) from George Wright Golf Course, home of the Mass Amateur July 9-13. Both shot 142 totals for T-6.
What makes Brown’s accomplishment all the more significant is that the senior at Silver Lake Regional High School and Country Club of Halifax member, chose to play in the Hornblower tournament rather than attend his class of 2018 graduation ceremony. His parents, Glynn and Maryanne Brown, and tournament chairman Mike Ellis, therefore, planned their own observance for the National Honor Society student, who will play golf next year for the University of Maryland Terrapins. Wearing his cap and gown that his parents brought for him, Brown received both his Junior Champion trophy and his diploma from Mike Ellis, during the awards ceremony in the Plymouth CC clubhouse.
Four first-day leaders, besides Stoddard (69), couldn’t build upon the success of their first-round scores. The final threesome of brothers Dave (67) and Ben (68) Spitz, both members of The Harmon Club, and Ryan Tombs (68) of Bryant University, all shot under par. Bryson Richards from the CC of Barre, VT, had the other even-par score of 69. A rocky final round from Dave Spitz (77, T-11), Tombs (75, 10th), and Richards (75, T-11) doomed them all to finishes further down the leaderboard than they had hoped.
Ben Spitz, however, stood on the 18th tee at even par for the day, one under for the tournament, and with a one-shot lead. The veteran left-hander need a four to win, but his drive was a big slice that went into the woods, and he had to take an unplayable lie. He reached the green with his third shot but missed a short putt for his bogey and, thus, missed the playoff and finished a disappointing third place.
Tied for fourth at 140 were collegians Tommy Parker (72-68) from Stetson, and Maxwell Major (74-66) from Johnson & Wales. Major’s 66 was the low round of the tournament. In sixth place were Brandon Gillis (73-69), the 2016 Hornblower champ and current student at Wake Forest, and Jimmy Hervol (72-70) from UConn, along with Brown and Thorbjornsen. Tombs rounded out the top-10.
The first women to compete in the event, WGAM 2017 Anne Marie Tobin Player-of-the-Year Shannon Johnson (79) and Georgetown Big East Player-of-the-Year Jacquelyn Eleey (83) missed the cut which was 74. Only the top 60 of the 158-player field played on. Both women said they enjoyed their experiences and hope to return next year.
Billy Walthouse, 2017 Hornblower champ, could not defend his title, but he emailed his sentiments: “I wish I could join you guys at the Hornblower Memorial this weekend. However, I’m on the West Coast. I recently got status on the Mackenzie Tour [PGA Tour of Canada], and I will be trying to get into the first event in Vancouver. I also have U.S. Open Sectionals this Monday (June 4) in Portland. The Hornblower is an event that I have always looked forward to on my schedule. Please tell whoever wins that I said, ‘Congratulations on a wonderful accomplishment.’”
Congratulations is a word that Matt Parziale hears frequently and this time it’s for winning the 54th Hornblower Memorial Championship!
For more information, visit the website at HornblowerMemorial.com
(Photography by Plymouth CC member Joe Arsenault)