BREWSTER, Massachusetts – Monday marked the first day of competitive golf for many of the 344 golfers in the field of the 2018 Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship. But for one pair, it was simply another day on the links.
Less than two weeks removed from the American Athletic Conference Men’s Golf Championship, University of Connecticut teammates Jimmy Hervol (Hopkinton CC) and Tim Umphrey (Tatnuck CC) fired a day-best 10-under par 62, earning their spot atop the leaderboard. The pair holds a two-stroke lead over two-time defending champions, Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) & Herbie Aikens (Pinehills GC), who fired an 8-under par 64 on the opposing course, with the final round for all competitors scheduled for Tuesday in the 2018 Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship.
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Competing on the Port Course at Brewster’s Captains Golf Course, Hervol and Umphrey started on the back nine and quickly found a groove, tallying four straight birdies from Holes 12-15, adding a fifth before making the turn, and followed with five more through their final nine holes. Each player carded one bogey over their 18-holes Monday, but had the mark erased by the performance of their teammates on the corresponding holes in the better-ball format.
Hervol and Umphrey, who this past week wrapped up their junior and sophomore years in Storrs, respectively, credited their experience as teammates as reason for their quick ascension up the leaderboard in what is only the second time the two have paired for this event. Last year, the duo placed T6 at 9-under par 133.
“Compared to the rest of the field, we have been playing a lot more,” said Hervol, who won the 2015 Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship and also qualified for last year’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. “We played seven events this spring for college, so were definitely in mid-season form. We just have to not put too much pressure on ourselves.”
As to what was working for them on Monday, the two have developed a trusting partnership that has carried over to their performance on the course.
Hervol added, “We’re familiar with each other’s game, help out with club selections and greens, and we’re good friends too, so it’s nice and relaxed out there, which is what Four-Ball is all about. It’s about fun, making a lot of birdies and Tim and I can do that on the good days.”
Umphrey led the field with eight birdies.
On the Starboard Course, Parziale and Aikens, who in February teamed up to win the International Four-Ball Championship in West Palm Beach, Florida against some of the game’s top amateurs, picked up where they left off last year when they won their second straight title in a sudden-death playoff at Haverhill Country Club.
Starting on the back-nine of the Starboard course Monday, Aikens made birdie on the par-4 10th tee and Parziale, a recent participant in both the Masters Tournament and the Concessions Cup, followed suit on the par-3 11th with a birdie of his own. The pair added two more birdies over the span of their first nine holes, then combined to post another two birdies and an eagle on the second nine to finish at 8-under par 64.
Five teams enter the midway point of the first Mass Golf Championship of the season at 7-under par 65, including the likes of 2017 Massachusetts Senior Four-Ball Senior runner-ups Kevin Carey and Joe Walker of Dennis Pines GC, 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball bound teammates Mike Calef (Pine Oaks GC) and Kevin Silva (Back Nine Club) and Cape Cod residents Michael Walker and Alex Stimpson, all who competed at the Captains GC’s Starboard course on Monday.
Plymouth Country Club’s Matt Miller and Jim Bandera, along with Worcester Country Club’s Brandon Parker and Taylor Fontaine, each shot 7-under 65 on the Port Course.
In total, 83 of the 172 groups were under par on Monday’s first round. All competitors will compete on Tuesday opposite the course they played on Monday.
Tee times on Tuesday will begin at 7:45 am on both the Port & Starboard courses.
ROUND 1 NOTES
- Five of the nine Massachusetts residents who are competing in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Jupiter Hills (Florida) from May 19-23 are competing in this week’s Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship, including the team of Jared Pane and Joseph Hunt (Hyannis GC), Mike Calef (Pine Oaks GC) and Kevin Silva (Back Nine Club), and Alex Jeffers of Woodland Golf Club. Hunt and Pane made the turn at 5-under 31 on the back nine of the Starboard Course, but couldn’t salvage below par golf on the front nine as their only two birdies were met with two bogeys to keep them bound to 5-under on the day. Jeffers, competing with 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier Tommy Parker, finished their day at 4-under par 68.
- Two-time defending Massachusetts Four-Ball Champions Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) and Herbie Aikens (Pinehills GC) look to become only the second team in the Four-Ball’s 38-year history to win in three straight years. Prior to Parziale & Aikens’ run, which started with their victory in 2016 at Framingham CC & Hopkinton CC, Aikens and longtime Massachusetts competitor Ryan Riley won three straight tournaments from 2009-2011.
- With a victory this week at Captains GC, Herbie Aikens would extend his record for the most Massachusetts Four-Ball victories. With his win in 2017, Aikens broke a tie for most Four-Ball wins with the likes of Jon Fasick and Carter Fasick, who won in 1986, 1991, 1997 and 1998, respectively.
- The 2018 Massachusetts Four-Ball here at Captains Golf Course is the first Four-Ball Championship to be contested at the Brewster course. It also marks the first time since 2005 that the championship was conducted on Cape Cod. That year, Steven Alminas and Peter Alminas were victorious when the two-day tournament was held at Dennis Pines GC & Dennis Highlands GC.
- 12 players recorded an eagle or better, while Tim Umphrey led all scorers with eight birdies. Todd Ezold collected 17 pars on the day.
PHOTOS: David Colt Photography