WORCESTER, Mass. – Rich Berberian (Vesper CC) carded his second consecutive 67 at Worcester Country Club to finish with a three-day total of 203 (-8) and capture a three-shot victory in the 101st New England PGA Section Championship.
Berberian held off Portland CC’s Dan Venezio, who carded a 67 in the final round and finished with a three-day total of 206.
Berberian joins elite company as a four-time New England Section Champion, joining Les Kennedy (1944, 1945, 1946, 1948, 1952), Bob Crowley (1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1967), and Dana Quigley (1985, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996). The Vesper CC professional has previously captured the Championship in 2014, 2015, and 2018.
“It started off with a couple bogeys early and I didn’t quite have it for the first nine holes or so,” Berberian said. “But a couple good tee shots off the back nine and I set myself up for some good irons and was able to one-putt the first seven or eight greens on the back nine today.”
Entering the final round with a two-shot lead over Bob Bruso (Blackstone National GC), Berberian stumbled early with bogeys on hole 2 and 4 while Bruso birdied hole 2 to draw even at -4. Berberian bounced back with birdies on holes 5 and 7 before a bogey on hole 9 to turn at +1 on the day and -4 for the tournament.
“I have to thank my caddie Duncan and how well he read the greens and thank you guys for getting us the yardage books that had some slope on the greens so I could have some idea,” Berberian concluded. “There were a couple putts early on that we had no clue on, then we started going by the book a lot and really started trusting it and started making some putts because of it.”
Berberian caught fire on the back, with a birdie on hole 12 before three consecutive birdies on holes 14, 15, and 16. From there, Berberian made par on 17 from the fescue left of the fairway and entered the final hole with a three-shot lead and made par for the victory.
Venezio played the front nine at -1 with four birdies and three bogeys and entered the final nine one-shot back of Berberian. The Portland professional carded three more birdies on the back with a lone bogey to finish with a 67 and three-day total of 206 for the runner-up position.
Bruso posted two birdies and two bogeys on the front to turn at even and carded another birdie on hole 11 to draw even with Berberian. From there, Bruso made seven straight pars to finish with a three-day total of 208 to claim solo third.
Eric Barlow (Winchester CC) finished fourth with a three-day total of 212 (+1) to earn a spot in next spring’s National Championship. Barlow carded a final round 72 (+2) with four birdies.
Bass Rocks GC’s Todd Scarafoni claimed fifth in the Championship with a three-day total of 213 (+2). Scarafoni carded a 68 at Worcester yesterday before a final round 71 (+1) for the top-5 finish.
Jeff Martin (Wollaston GC) finished alone in sixth with a three-day score of 214 (+3), qualifying for his 18th consecutive Professional National Championship. His final round 72 was powered by a 34 (-1) on the back nine with birdies on holes 14, 16, and 18.
NEPGA Championship Final Results
1 Rich Berberian (Vesper CC): -8
2 Dan Venezio (Portland CC): -5
3 Robert Bruso (Blackstone National GC): -4
4 Eric Barlow (Winchester CC): +1
5 Todd Scarafoni (Bass Rocks GC): +2
6 Jeff Martin (Wollaston GC): +3
7 David Bennett (CC of Vermont): +4
T8 Kirk Hanefeld (Salem CC): +6
T8 Danny Kish (The Atkinson Resort): +6
T10 Matt Arvanitis (Southern New Hampshire U.): +7
T10 Dan Gillis (Nabnasset Lake CC): +7
T10 Brendon Ray (Point Judith CC): +7
T10 Shawn Warren (Falmouth CC): +7