Framingham, MA — You can put two great players together but it doesn’t necessarily make them a great team.
Herbie Aikens (Pinehills GC) and Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) proved that they can be both as they carded a two-day score of 9-under par 134 at Framingham Country Club and Hopkinton Country Club to capture the 2016 Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship.
Both have won individual MGA Championship titles, but this latest piece of hardware represents the first MGA team title for this duo.
Day 2 MGA Four-Ball Quick Links
“Competing with Herb is the best thing,” said Parziale. “You know that he wants to win just as much as you do. We do well as a team. I won’t say that we stay out of each other’s way, but that is what it is. We just play, and it’s good to just be able to compete with him.”
With this latest victory, Aikens becomes only the third competitor to ever win four MGA Four-Ball titles. He won this title three times with Ryan Riley (Thorny Lea GC) in 2009-2011.
He now shares the honor of winning four titles with Jon Fasick (New England CC) and Carter Fasick (Westborough CC), who won as a team in 1986, 1991, 1997 and 1998.
“They are all different,” said Aikens of his Four-Ball wins. “Playing with Ryan was great. He is an amazing competitor, and it was a lot of fun. Matt is really talented and a lot of fun, and we have a great time.
“I don’t ever like to compare [the titles] to one other, but they are all very special to me. Anytime you win an MGA event it’s unbelievable. And when you have a partner like this it makes it a lot easier. There is a lot less pressure going to the first tee when you have Matty next to you.”
For Aikens and Parziale – who began playing in this event together in 2014 – two top-10 finishes (including solo third in 2014) set the stage for this year’s triumphant third attempt.
Unlike the first two years, however, Aikens and Parziale delivered two bogey-free rounds over the two-day period. They finished 36 holes with nine birdies.
“That was probably the best thing that we did,” said Parziale about the bogey-free round. “We kept it out of trouble and that was pretty much the key to these two days. The birdies came, and we didn’t have to force anything.”
Sharing the lead after the first day was an especially rewarding feat given the cold and rainy weather that persisted from start to finish and caused a nearly 45 minute delay.
Overcast skies and intermittent rain fell on Tuesday, but the conditions were much more favorable which allowed Aikens and Parziale to meticulously execute a stellar game plan.
“We both played great and had pars and birdies,” said Aikens. “At almost every hole we had two birdie putts which was really nice.”
Parziale kick started the day on Tuesday with an approach to six feet on the 350-yard, par 4 2nd hole. Aikens then found the green on the 544-yard, par 5 5th hole which set him up for a two-putt birdie.
With Shawn Scott (Long Meadow GC) and Philip Smith (Vesper CC) – one of the four first-round leaders – playing well in front of them, Aikens picked a perfect time to send his tee shot on the 158-yard, par 3 8th hole to a foot to set up a tap-in birdie.
They made the turn at 3-under par and then played steady golf en route to securing the title by two shots. Aikens provided a cushion on the back nine by hitting his approach on the 399-yard, par 4 15th hole to a foot.
Smith and Scott finished T2 with the team of Mike Young (Wedgewood Pines CC) and Dennis Callahan (Butter Brook GC).
“The biggest thing yesterday was that we made a few good par putts to keep it bogey free,” said Parziale. “Today we didn’t need to make that many saves, but we kept it out of trouble for two days, had both of us in each hole and gave ourselves opportunities.”
In addition to being a dynamic and now victorious team, Aikens and Parziale also boast impressive individual records.
Parziale was the 2014 Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year who last year set a three-round scoring record en route to capturing the 2015 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship title.
Aikens won the 2014 Massachusetts Amateur Public Links and Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championships. Both players were also part of Team Massachusetts, which competed at the 2014 USGA Men’s State Team Championship.
Their next big challenge will be the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, which will take place later this month at Winged Foot Golf Club (NY).
“We are heading to Winged Foot to play in the U.S. Four-Ball so that is what we are excited for,” said Aikens. “This is a great boost for us, and it will be good momentum.
“We have learned how to play with each other. We have always had fun playing together, but now we have figured out each other’s style, and it’s going to be great. I can’t wait to get to New York.”
But on this day there was no mention or thought of individual awards or future competitions.
“I love to compete,” said Parziale. “We had a good time, and there is no one that I would rather play with than Herb in these events.”
Savoring every moment together on the course is yet another thing they have in common.
“Playing with Matt is great is fun we laugh all day,” said Aikens. “Even coming down the stretch when things get a little tight around the collar and you may be in the hunt, we are still laughing about something. It keeps it light and makes it really enjoyable.”
Here is a rundown on how some notable teams fared on day two.
Following day one, four teams were atop the leaderboard with scores of 5-under par 66 but only one ended up with the ultimate crown at the end of 36 holes.
After carding seven birdies on day one, Jeremy Meade (Nashawtuc CC) & Dan Cappucci (Boston GC) posted two birdies on day two to fall back for a T10 finish. A string of three straight bogies through their final four holes at Framingham CC kept them from capturing what would have been their first-ever MGA Championship title.
The father and son duo of David Pierce (CC of Halifax) & David Pierce, Jr. (CC of Halifax) finished with six birdies and just one bogie at Hopkinton CC on Monday, but they could not find the same rhythm in Framingham on Tuesday. They finished a round-two score of 1-over par 72 to finish T7 overall.
The defending team of J.C. Guthrie (Oak Hill CC) and Matthew Leger (Oak Hill CC) were hoping to replicate their victory from one year ago at George Wright Golf Course, but the duo posted a day-one score of 1-over par 72 at Hopkinton CC and then following that up with a 1-under par 71 at Framingham CC. One year ago, Guthrie and Leger won this title on the first playoff hole.
Another family duo in this year’s field was Kevin Quinn (Charles River CC) and his nephew Owen Quinn (Wachusett CC).Owen is the son of former PGA Tour player and current Champions Tour competitor Fran Quinn who will be playing in next month’s Massachusetts Open Championship. Although he was unable to play alongside his son in this week’s amateur-only event, Fran Quinn was on site both days supporting both his son and brother.
Four-time winners of this event – Jon Fasick (New England CC) and Carter Fasick (Westborough CC) – were in the field this year. The brother duo won this title together in 1986, 1991, 1997 and 1998.
The only other team in this year’s field that has won multiple four-ball titles was Frank Vana, Jr. (Andover CC) and Michael McCarthy (Framingham CC), who were victorious in 2002 & 2003. McCarthy enjoyed home-course advantage on day two as he has been a longtime member of Framingham Country Club.
The conclusion of today’s event does not mean that there is no more four-ball fun to be had. Ten competitors from this week’s field and a total of 15 from the Bay State will be traveling to New York later this month to take part in the 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship on May 21-25 at Winged Foot Golf Club. Those competitors earned a spot at Championship Proper at sectional qualifiers which were held last fall.
A total of 128 teams will be represented at Winged Foot Golf Club in what is the second year of this Championship Proper. The U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship will be contested on May 21-25 at Florida’s Streamsong Resort.
Sectional qualifying, conducted over 18 holes, will be held for the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship this fall in New England on the following days.
* August 25 – GreatHorse
* September 6 – Green Valley CC (RI)
* September 15 – Allendale CC
In addition, those competitors who are 55 years and older can look forward to the 2016 Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Championship which is the next event on the MGA Championship schedule. That full field of senior amateurs will compete at Cranberry Valley GC and The Captains GC on May 23-24.
The low twenty (20) teams and ties from this year are exempt for the 2016 Massachusetts Amateur Championship. Also exempt are winners from the previous five years.
Look for a special release on the host sites for the 2016 Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship in the coming days.[slideshow_deploy id=’21897′]