HYDE PARK, Mass. – For most of his ten years competing in elite amateur golf competitions in the Bay State, 25-year old Patrick Frodigh has been a consistent performer, but not a major tournament winner.
They say no one remembers who finishes second, which he’s done a few times. But on Friday July 13th Patrick Frodigh’s luck changed forever, and over the course of five days, two golf courses, five matches and 135 holes of golf at the wonderfully-manicured Donald Ross-designed George Wright Golf Course, the 6’4” lefty from Dedham Country & Polo Club captured the big one, the one amateur title that drips with prestige, skill and history – the 110th Massachusetts Amateur Championship.
Prodigious drives, a svelte touch around the greens and a red-hot putter delivered a knockout punch to Herb Aikens, by a score of 4 & 3 in a scheduled 36-hole finals match. Aikens is a familiar name on local leaderboards with a combined total of 16 individual and team titles.
Golf aficionados got what they were looking for in this heavyweight bout, with fireworks everywhere with the duo tallying 13 birdies between them and a slew of gimme-par putts. Aikens, at 6’6” blasts 300-yard drives, while Frodigh hits it in the 320-yard range.
When the dust settled by mid-afternoon on a gorgeous summer day in Hyde Park, a blue-collar City of Boston neighborhood, Frodigh’s putter was the deciding factor.
“I came out of the gate pretty hot,” said Frodigh who played the first front nine at 2-under par 33. “I think I was 4 up through 8 or 9 and then Herbie came right back. He made a few birdies on the back nine and played really well. I just regrouped at lunch and got refocused, and it was a really close match all day.”
Frodigh wasted no time getting into a rhythm on the short 6,475-yard George Wright GC layout. After making three straight pars, he drained a 10-foot birdie putt on the 158-yard, par 3 fourth hole to take a 3-up lead after Aikens made bogies on No. 1 and No. 3. On the 414-yard, par 4 fifth hole, Aikens approach shot missed right. Frodigh, meanwhile, hit his fourth straight fairway off the tee and then drained a 16-foot birdie putt to extend his lead to 4 up.
The gallery, which was evenly divided supporting their favorite player, grew in size throughout the day and according to Mass Golf officials proved to be one of the biggest in recent memory.
Aikens was finally able to step up his game and made three birdies – on No. 11, No. 15 and No. 16 and managed to pull within one of Frodigh at the mid-match break.
“Yeah, I fought back,” said Aikens, a member at Old Sandwich Golf Course in Plymouth, “I was always down, and it wears you down in the end. You get tired and maybe a little frustrated. You are trying to get it back, and Patrick is such a good player he did not let up. Even when he would get into a little bit of trouble, he would hit a great chip shot and then follow it up with a great shot. He didn’t give any holes away, which is the key. That’s what you got to do to win.”
Hole No. 9 is Gamechanger for Aikens
Aikens would continue to battle back. He made a 30-foot birdie putt on the 26th hole of the match to draw within one, but he would give it back just one hole later when he made bogey on both the George Wright 9th and 10th holes.
In post-round interviews both players agreed the gamechanger hole to Aikens’ come-back bid came on the 27th hole of the match where Aikens made bogey from the middle of the fairway, hitting his second shot into the right-side bunker from 180-yards out.
Meanwhile, Frodigh hit his drive into the woods and was barely able to punch out scrambling to make bogey by sinking a clutch 18-foot putt. If Aikens wins the hole it is all square, but the thrill of match play is expecting the unexpected.
“That felt like an eagle,” said Frodigh. “That bogey was unbelievable. When I made that I knew that I could maybe carry that momentum into the back nine and hang on.”
Aikens followed that up with a three-putt bogey on hole No. 28 and from there on it was cruise-control for Patrick Frodigh.
“He was awesome,” said Aikens. “He was tough and not a guy you want to get down to, and I was down all day. I grinded back and got a little momentum and then that five he made on nine (Match Hole No. 27) was unbelievable. That’s where I lost the momentum. I think I played it too safe and ended up in the bunker. I was trying not to miss left and it was a mistake.”
Three years ago, Patrick Frodigh finished as runner up in this tournament to Nick McLaughlin, who showed up to watch the finals as did Matt Parziale, the defending champion. Frodigh was on a mission this week having beaten Parziale a day earlier by a score of 3 & 2.
“Winning this title hasn’t really hit yet,” said Frodigh. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to do this with all my friends here watching. I felt like we both had a bunch of people here watching us. Cheers were both ways. There was a lot of them, and both of us hit some great shots. It is just awesome and a pleasure to be able to play a 36-hole match against Herbie.”
“Winning this event is definitely right up there,” said Frodigh, who announced that he plans to turn professional this fall. “It was a lot of fun this week. I am so happy to win this state amateur in what is my last year being an amateur for a long time hopefully. We will see what happens.”
Mass Golf accepted 672 entries for this year’s tournament and next year the Mass Amateur returns to The Country Club in Brookline.
For more information visit: www.massgolf.org