Massachusetts Amateur Championship set to begin next week

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Former St. John's Prep star and current University of Louisville golfer Chris Francoeur will compete in next week's Massachusetts Amateur Championship. (Courtesy Photo: David Colt)

Beginning Monday, the top amateur golfers from around the state will gather at historic Brae Burn Country Club in West Newton for the 113th edition of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship.

The golf course, finished and enhanced by Donald Ross, retains its challenge and maintains its character to this day. Since it was founded in 1897, Brae Burn is one of two courses in the Bay State to have hosted the U.S. Open (1919), U.S. Amateur (1929) and U.S. Women’s Amateur (1906, 1975, 1997), in addition to several Massachusetts championships over the past century.

“We have a great tradition and history here,” Brae Burn Head Golf Professional Phil Psaros said. “A lot of people join Brae Burn for the shape the course is in. The tee boxes are close to the greens. It’s a very enjoyable walk, it’s not spread out.”

The next chapter of the club’s legacy will be written when Brae Burn (par-72, 6,816 yards) hosts the Mass. Amateur from Monday, July 12 through Friday, July 16. A talented field of 144 players, representing 79 different Mass Golf member clubs, will compete in 36 holes of stroke play between July 12 and 13. The low 32 scorers advance to match play, which begins July 14. The final round on July 16 will feature a 36-hole championship match.

The Mass. Amateur, first contested in 1903, is one of Mass Golf’s signature and longest-running events and regularly attracts every level of amateur player from juniors, college players, mid-amateurs and seniors. Next week will be the 11th time Brae Burn has hosted the Mass. Amateur, matching The Country Club in Brookline for most ever. Brae Burn last hosted the Mass. Amateur in 1991 when John Salamone won the title, and the club most recently hosted the Mass. Mid-Amateur Championship in 2019.

At the Mid-Amateur in 2019, Nick Maccario set a competitive course record with a 64 in the opening round en route to the title. Maccario went on to finish as runner-up in the 2020 Mass. Amateur.

Out of more than 800 entries accepted, 144 advanced to the championship proper, including a handful of exempt players. The 32 players who made match play last year at The Kittansett Club are among those who earned full exemptions.

Last year’s champion, Matthew Organisak, has turned professional, meaning there will be a different champion in 2021. It also won’t be Maccario, who isn’t in the field for next week’s championship. 

Some of those who are included in the field are nine past champions, with 2018 winner Patrick Frodigh (Dedham Country & Polo Club) being the most recent champion. Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea Golf Club), who won the Mass. Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur in 2017, is exempt after making it into the semifinals last year. Nick McLaughlin (Far Corner Golf Club), the 2015 champion, is among those who made it to match play the year prior. 

Michael Thorbjornsen, the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur winner, will be among the favorites as he makes his debut in the event. After completing his first season at Stanford University, Thorbjornsen placed T-11 in both the Sunnehanna Amateur and the Northeast Amateur, a pair of elite summer events with college and local amateur standouts.

Thorbjornsen will be among a group of more than 30 college players in the field, including active players, recent graduates and incoming first-years. The list includes Louisville transfer Chris Francoeur (Amesbury Golf & Country Club), who won the 2020 Ouimet Memorial Tournament, competed at the Northeast Amateur and is coming off a T-9 finish at last month’s Massachusetts Open.  

Francoeur is paired with Thorbjornsen and Ben Spitz, making for one of the groups to watch during stroke play. They get underway at 1:10 p.m. Monday on Hole 1, and then 8:25 a.m. Tuesday on Hole 10.

Other local players in the field include Swampscott brothers Aidan and Christian Emmerich (Kernwood Country Club), Marblehead’s Brad Tufts (Tedesco Country Club), Beverly’s Ryan Daly (Salem Country Club), Peabody’s Church Waesche (The Meadow at Peabody), Peabody’s George Zolotas (Tedesco Country Club) and Marblehead’s Hunter Stone (Tedesco Country Club).

“Just like always, this championship has a fully diverse and eclectic field,” Mass Golf Director of Rules and Competitions Kevin Eldridge said. “You’ve got all ages and everything so it’s always good to see the whole field that comes together to compete.”

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