PLYMOUTH, Mass – Tommy Ethier fired low round of the day, a 3-under 66, bypassing four players in front of him after round one, to claim victory in the 57th Hornblower Memorial Invitational on Saturday June 5. His two-day total of 5-under 133 (67-66) at Plymouth Country Club, a classic Donald Ross layout, earned him a two-shot victory over Caleb Manuel, who shot an even-par 69 to go along with his opening round 66.
Ethier, a native of Nashua, NH, and member at Nashua CC, said he entered the final round with positive vibes and a relaxed frame of mind, while paired with Dillon Brown and Doug Clapp in the second-to-last threesome of the day.
“I had my girlfriend Kate Slowe caddying for me. I think I went in with a pretty laid-back mindset,” a happy Ethier said before the trophy presentation. “She plays a little bit of golf, but not much, so I figured I would just enjoy the day and have some fun with it. Honestly, I think that attitude was the best thing that happened to me. Obviously, I wanted to be competitive, but with her on the bag, I didn’t want to take myself too seriously which, I think, allowed me to play freely and relaxed all day–despite what was at stake.”
Going into Saturday’s round, Ethier, was three strokes behind the leader, Plymouth CC’s Jon Stoddard, and two strokes behind the trio of Dillon Brown, Caleb Manuel, and Ricky Stimets. Ethier, 22, just graduated from Bentley University in Waltham, MA, with a major in accounting and a minor in finance, cashed in with the winning numbers.
His victory march began with a birdie on No. 1, then continued with birdies on 4, 7, 8, 13, and 15. His six birdies were offset with three bogeys on 5, 10, and 17. Only Brandon Parker would shoot another under-par score, and his 67 combined with his Friday 69 pushed him up the ladder into a T-3 position with Doug Clapp, who posted scores of 67-69-136.
Three tied for fifth at 137, all recording 68-69: Samuel Barton, Bobby Leopold, and Sean Fitzpatrick. Tied for eighth at 138 were first round leader Jon Stoddard (65-73) and his closest first-round competitor Dillon Brown (66-72). The top ten were rounded out at 139 with 2020 New England Amateur champion John Broderick (69-70), Nick Drago (70-69), and 2020 runner-up Chris Francoeur (70-69). Defending champ Nick Maccario shot his second 71 for a 142 and T-19 finish.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Doug Clapp,” added Ethier in his post-round interview. “After the tenth hole where I made bogey and he made birdie, we pulled even. He played great today and hung tough the entire round. I think the real turning point in the round was on the 13th hole. Doug hit his tee shot into the right trees and had to pitch out, I was able to make birdie on the hole, and he made bogey which gave me a two-shot lead. Moving to 15, the tricky par 3, I was able to make a birdie, which provided a cushion from the field.”
Standing on the 18th tee, Ethier knew that only Caleb Manuel of the four players ahead of him at the start was shooting even par, and he knew he had a two-shot lead on Manuel and a three-shot lead on Clapp and Brandon Parker, who had already finished. What was going through his mind?
“Standing on that 18th tee with that two-shot lead, I told myself I needed just one more good tee shot and I would be the champion,” said the new champion. “I told myself why not just go win it? What do I have to lose? And, thankfully, I was able to hit a good tee shot, which set up the par and which clinched the victory.”
“It was a great day at a great course with great weather. The membership at Plymouth CC is unbelievable and they host on a great tournament year in and year out. Not many courses take as much pride in hosting an event as the members do at Plymouth, and I think that’s what makes the Hornblower such a special event.”
Another outstanding chapter has been added to a long-running and popular New England amateur championship!