East Providence, RI – Billy Walthouse (Longmeadow CC – MA) already has won one of the top amateur golf tournaments in New England this year. Now, he has his sights set on an ever bigger one.
That two-day total lifted him into a tie at the top of the leaderboard with first-day leader Kevin Silva (Montaup CC -RI) at 4-under par 136 heading into Thursday’s 36-hole finale of the 88th New England Amateur Championship.
The contest will be far from a two-man race. Max Ferrari (Framingham CC – MA), who just completed his freshman year at St. Mary’s of California, is only one back after a sparkling 5-under par 65, matching the best round of the tournament.Two-time Rhode Island champion Bobby Leopold (Wannamoisett CC – RI), playing despite an injured knee, is at 2-under par overall after carding a 1-over par 71 on Wednesday. Jackson Lang (Nashawtuc CC – MA) also is in red numbers at 139 after an even par 70.
In all, 12 players are within four strokes of the lead heading into the last day. The two players at the top are not surprises. Both are highly accomplished.Last month, Walthouse rallied from three strokes down entering the final round to win the Hornblower Memorial at Plymouth Country Club.
“That tournament is a lot like this one,” said Walthouse. “It gets a lot of the best players in New England.”
Walthouse last year earned a berth as an individual in the NCAA Tournament and won three college tournaments. He was the New England Player of the Year. Just last week, he was a semifinalist at the Massachusetts Amateur Championship. At Metacomet this week, he has used his putter to get to the top of the leaderboard. “I’m putting great,’’ he said. The guy he is tied with also talked about his putting, but he was not as happy.
Silva, who lives in New Bedford and plays out of Montaup in Portsmouth, R.I., felt his putting kept him from having a really strong day. His even par 70 was not what he felt he should have had. “If it had been a round where I really had to grind and shot 70, I’d be happy,” said Silva. “I know this is a treacherous course. Seventy is a good score here, but I hit the ball well. I thought the way I hit the ball I should have been in the 60s.’’
Silva got to 6-under with birdies made on the 2nd and 3rd holes, but then carded bogies on the 4th and 5th holes, both on three-putts. On his last hole of the day, the par-5 9th, he got to the front fringe in two.
Ferrari had seven birdies, including a pair of deuces, on the way to his 65. He is loving life going to college in Northern California, a decision he made because he has spent time in San Francisco, where a relative lives. Leopold took a break in the middle of his round to take a Motrin for knee pain. It helped, but the pain was back by the time he finished.
It took a score of 7-over 147 to make the cut.
DAY 2 NOTES:
Newly-crowned Massachusetts Amateur champion Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC – MA) had a tournament he would rather forget. After what happened Wednesday morning, though, at least one hole will be difficult to look back on.
Parziale was among the late starters in the first round, among the 42 players who had to return Wednesday morning to finish their round. He was hurt by a triple-bogey seven on his 15th hole (the sixth), which sent him to 5-over for the round. The triple turned out to be the lesser of two evils. After he made birdie on his next-to-last hole, Parziale came to the par-5 9th. Like so many of the players in the field, he tried to get home in two on the 463-yard hole.
“It was totally my fault,’’ said Parziale. “Instead of just hitting it to the front of the green, I tried to hit a big cut in there.” It cut too much, way too much, and went into an area of heavy fescue. Parziale decided to try and whack it out. “I just kept swinging at it,’’ said Parziale. “I don’t really remember it. Actually, I’m still not sure right now how many times I hit it. I tried to count it up but I’m really not sure.”
Once he got out, he three-putted.
“I think I had 10, but to be safe I told them just give me 11,” he said. That gave him 80 for the round. He obviously did not let it get to him. He went out later and posted a 1-under par 69 even with another three-putt on the 9th green, this time for a six.
Parziale played in the same threesome with former New England winner four-time Rhode Island Amateur titlist Brad Valois ( Metacomet CC – RI), who had a forgettable moment himself.
Valois was hovering around the cut line at 4-over when he arrived at the 448-yard 14th hole. He hit a good drive.
“There was someone there who told me, ‘This is your ball,'” Valois related. “So I hit it. We walked down a little more and I saw another ball. My ball.” He was penalized for hitting the wrong ball and made an eight on the hole. He responded with two late birdies, enough to get him one inside the cut line at 146.
It has been a hectic, but enjoyable two days for John Drohen (Harbor Lights CC – RI) and his two sons, John and Jake. They were together at the golf course for 13 hours on Tuesday. They arrived at Pawtucket Country Club at 7:30 a.m. to play in the RIGA Family Day where John shot 76 with one son and 78 with the other.
Both sons then made the 15-minute drive to Metacomet with their father, who had a late tee time in the opening round of the New England championship. The Drohens got caught in the rain delay on Tuesday and did not leave Metacomet until 8:30 p.m., 13 hours after they had arrived at Pawtucket. On Wednesday, both sons were back again as their dad shot 69 for 141 and easily made the cut.
About 15 years ago, John Drohen moved from Massachusetts to Rhode Island and quickly became one of the Ocean State’s best players. Like so many others, though, golf was thrust into the background as he and his wife began a family. Now, one son is a teenager and both love golf.
“They want to play now,’’ the elder Drohen said. “It makes me feel so good to be able to get out with them and enjoy it with them. I’ve told them, this is something they can do all their lives. The only thing they have to do is make sure they invite me to their member-guest three day wherever they join.”
There was an added bonus in the second round at Metacomet. “One of my sons picked up a loop. He caddied for Brian Higgins (who played in the same threesome),” Drohen related. Drake Hull (Rutland CC – VT) is in a tie for sixth entering the final day of the Amateur, but in some ways, he is first.
The new Vermont state champion, who is transferring from Kansas to Connecticut in the fall, fired the tournament’s best round, a 5-under 65 in the second round. Combined with his opening 75 he stands at 140, which is the best score of any player who was in the bottom half of the field.
Thirteen players broke par in the first round – all of whom played in the morning. All the leaders entering the final day also played early-late, when conditions were considerably less difficult than those who drew Hull’s half of the draw
Day 2 Quick Links
* Paul Kenyon contributed to this report.