John McNeill leads by 4 strokes at the New England Senior Amateur. (David Colt, file)
MANCHESTER, Vermont – For the second time in four years, the Green Mountain State is playing host to 120 of the best senior amateur golfers representing the six New England state. John McNeill, of Stow, Massachusetts, stands above the rest after Tuesday's Round 1 as he shot a 4-under-par 68 with matching 34s on each nine. McNeill, a longtime member of the Amateur Golf Tour of New England, has a pair has two top 10 finishes in this event, including placing T4 in 2018, which ironically took place at Vermont's Burlington Country club. Connecticut's Bob Murphy (Brownson CC); Bill Hermanson, (Black Hall Club); and Dave Jones (Mohegan Sun GC) all sit four strokes back at even-par 72. In total, 63 players made the cut at 7-over or better and will advance to Wednesday's final round, which begins at 8 a.m. Players, represented in all six states, will play in pairs, with McNeill teeing off in the final group at 9:45 a.m. ONLINE: ROUND 1 SCORES | ROUND 2 STARTING TIMES WHAT HAPPENED After making par on his first seven holes, John McNeill closed out the front nine with birdies on the 8th (par-3, 187-yards), and 9th (par-4, 405-yards) to find himself in a tie for the lead at 2-under at the turn. However, he distanced himself from the field with another birdie on the well-guarded green on the 14th (par-4, 387-yards) and closed out his round with a birdie on the 18th (par-4, 407-yards), a dogleg right. McNeill, 60, who has previously qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur, is looking for his first championship victory on the New England stage. He'll have to hold off a cohort that includes Connecticut's Bob Murphy, Bill Hermanson, and Dave Jones, all of whom shot even-par 72 to finish Round 1 tied for second place. Andy Congdon (Wyantenuck CC) is among five players who shot 1-over 73. Through 12 holes, Congdon sat at 4-under, as he shot a 33 on the back nine that included birdies on holes 10 and 11, followed by four consecutive birdies on holes 16, 17, and 18 and 1. However, a pair of double-bogeys on the front nine led to a 40. Congdon won the 2011 Massachusetts Senior Player of the Year Award and finished T7 with McNeill in the 2017 New England Senior Amateur. Mark Vassalotti (Barnstable Golf), Chuck Tryder (Bellevue CC); and Mark Dennish (Old Sandwich GC) also sit a T5, alongside New Hampshire's Bob Kearney. Jack Kearney (Westover GC), the 2018 champion sits at 2-over, while defending champion Frank Vana, Jr. is 3-over. Both Bob Kearney, 65, and Congdon, 67, share the lead in the Super Senior Division (age 65-over). LEADERBOARD AFTER ROUND Manchester Country Club; Par-72 1 – John McNeill, Amateur Golf Tour New England (MA); 68 T2 – Bob Murphy, Brownson CC (CT); 72 T2 – Bill Hermanson: Black Hall Club (CT); 72 T2 – Dave Jones, Mohegan Sun GC (CT); 72 T5 – Mark Dennish, Old Sandwich GC (MA); 73 T5 – Chuck Tryder, Bellevue CC (MA); 73 T5 – Mark Vassalotti, Barnstable Golf (MA); 73 T5 – Andy Congdon, Wyantenuck CC (MA); 73 T5 – Bob Kearney, Bretwood GC (NH); 73 ABOUT THE NEW ENGLAND SENIOR AMATEUR The New England Senior Amateur Championship dates back to the late 1990s when Metacomet Country Club in East Providence, Rhode Island played host. Ed Fletcher won the inaugural title, taking home the Mass Senior Amateur title just two weeks later. After nine years of the Championship, Mark Plummer became the first player to win the New England Amateur and New England Senior Amateur in a career, when the two-time Amateur Champion (1979, 1994) took home the 10th New England Senior Amateur in 2007. Plummer, a legend of golf in Maine and New England, was a semifinalist in the 1995 U.S. Amateur before bowing out to eventual champion, Tiger Woods.