Monday, June 8, 2015

Watching the Future of the Sport - Part I of II

These photos have nothing to do with the blog, but they are still neat.
Above is the artwork of the MGA Championship staff directly in front of the clubhouse.
Here is MGA Rules Official Doug Mitchell (left) with Black Rock CC Owner George McGoldrick, Jr.
Check out the cool MGA hat that was made just for this event! The red one is only for volunteers, however.
So here we are at the 106th playing of the Massachusetts Open Championship. We are surrounded by one of the most breathtaking modern classics in Black Rock Country Club. We gaze around and keep thinking... am I looking at a future PGA Tour or Champions Tour star?

The answer might be yes if you take a look at the list of past champions and consider that many of these touring pros are just waiting for their big break. Just think about Jon Curran and Jim Renner. Just a few years ago they were in this field and wondering what their future might hold.

The future held a PGA Tour card as both competitors made the show and used this State Open as a stepping stone. In fact, I clearly remember sitting across from Jon Curran when he said that his game was "almost there." He has already made $800,000+ during his rookie PGA Tour season... I believe that he was 100% correct in his assessment.

Since it is impossible to cover every single competitor (all 150 deserve a feature story of two, believe me!), we decided to give you a glimpse into the lives of just some of them who graciously took a moment to tell us about themselves. This will be Part I... Part II to come tomorrow following the second round of play.

Read and enjoy...

James Smith is a Dartmouth College graduate who notes the following as his most favorite courses to play – Black Rock Country Club, Kittansett Club and Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. 

Benjamin "Ben" Conroy finished T3 at the 2015 Cape Cod Open. He turned pro in 2013 and didn't take long to make his mark as he fired a course record 65 at Torrington Country Club during the 2013 Connecticut Open. He finished tied for second in that event. In addition to golf, he is also a skilled pianist!

Eric Dugas has plenty of frequent-flyer miles as he currently competes on the PGA Tour Latin America where is stands in the top 15 on the money list. One year ago, Dugas was one of four who advanced to a playoff at the Massachusetts Open Championship. His best score posted was a 61, and he turned pro in 2005.

He may be an amateur on this day, but Chris Wiatr just graduated from the University of Connecticut and is planning to turn pro this coming fall. His best finish in 2105 thus far was an impressive third place at the Russell Palmer Cup held in Connecticut.

Chris Gentile is playing in only his second career Masachusetts Open Championship, but one year ago he advanced to the Round of 16 at the Massachusetts Amateur Championship. The Lowell native said that he picked up a club at 11 months old and started playing in tournaments at 9 years old. He currently works at the pro shop at Mount Pleasant Golf Club.

Kevin Gately has scored two holes in one in his career, one at the age of 10 and then his second six years later. He is a Ping DIV 2 All regional standout for St Thomas Aquinas College where he competed at the 2014 NCAA Div II Championship.

Charlie May graduated from Masconomet Regional High School in 2013. He was named the 2012 Division 2 Boston Globe Golfer of the Year. He currently attends Elon University, but cites his best moment in golf as winning the 2011 MIAA Division 2 High School Individual State Championship by making a 10-ft birdie putt on the 1st sudden-death playoff hole. He is very interested in numbers and statistics and keeps several Microsoft Excel documents on his computer that keeps track of his golf performance, including one that has every round he has played since 2009.

Brian Higgins won the 2010 New England Amateur Championship, but says that the most important fact about him is that he is the father of three beautiful daughters ages 13, 11 & 6. He is also a small business owner who enjoys the time he gets to spend with his family and on the golf course competing in tournaments.

Jason Short is not only a fine golfer but he finished in the top 10% of his graduating class at Marlborough High School, who will be playing for the University of Rhode Island in the fall.

Brandon Parker lives in Auburn and he is the current head men's and women's golf coach at Assumption College. He turned pro in 2011, but is currently in the process of applying for a reinstatement of his amateur status. His best golf moment in golf was making five birdies in a row during Monday qualifying at the 2012 Tour Miccosukee Classic. He is writing a book.

Pete Weatherby is an assistant golf professional who claims that he currently lives in a haunted house in Plymouth. His highlight from 2015 is that he has "yet to break a club", and he would rather "be fishing".  Pete will be here all week, folks.

Dan Woodbury is from Upton and currently attends Virginia Tech University. He has scored two holes in one, but one was at 9:00 p.m. in the pitch black back in 2012.

Dave Houghton is the oldest competitor in the field at 70 years old. He is also a retired US Navy Captain (thank you, Dave!). He was a member of the Brown University men's golf team from 1963 to 1966, was a professional golfer from 1993 to 1995. One year ago e won the 2014 Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship.

Michael Carbone is from Brewster and currently is a pro golfer and a caddy at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, FL. A graduate of Nauset Regional High, Carbone has been a pro for 13 years and has claimed many impressive titles including the 2009 Rhode Island Open, 2011 Maine Open and 2014 Brooklyn Open champion.

Chip Johnson is the head golf professional at Hatherly Country Club whose best finish at this event is second. He has been married to Pamela Kerrigan, LPGA Tour Player for eight years. His brother  
Kevin Johnson is also in this week's field.

Philip Cardwell is a teaching professional at Sankaty Head Golf Club. He is a testament of courage as he is blind in his right eye. He has survived three brain tumor surgeries.
There are many more player highlights to come tomorrow... what a group!

Posted by Becky Blaeser, whose hoping these articles will be printed in Sports Illustrated when these guys make it big.