Overnight leader Keith Smith (Franklin CC, MA) outfoxed a field that was in hot pursuit throughout the second and final day of the New England Senior Amateur Championship, securing the win with rounds of 67 and 68 (-7). This marks the fourth consecutive victory for Massachusetts golfers in the event. He also claimed the Super Senior division title by six shots.
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He called it the biggest win of his life and one that he wasn’t expecting entering the week. “It’s really been a challenging year, frustrating. I have not really played that well this year. I’ve taken more lessons, have given more practice, and just last week, I found a tempo that…you know, when the tempo is right everything kind of falls together,” said Smith.
Smith entered Tuesday’s play with a two-stroke lead and kept the pedal to the metal, carding four birdies and one bogey on the front nine. When asked about that stretch, Smith said, “I had some good iron shots in there and I made some really good putts…It was kind of scary, you know, because it was just not what’s been going on this year. So, you kind of have to harken back to when you used to play well.”
While the field tallied six total under par rounds on day one, day two saw 16 red figures. The final four stroke margin doesn’t quite tell the whole story.
Smith explained that it never quite felt like a runaway victory: “The other two in our group were both under par on the front nine as well. So even though I turned at three under, I think I only picked up one stroke, so you just have to keep grinding and I was just fortunate that it went my way.”
After a birdie on the par-3 11th, Smith stumbled a bit with back-to-back bogeys on 12 and 13 to give David Marshall (Quinnatisset CC, CT) and Dean Parziale (Agawam Hunt, RI) a glimmer of hope. Suddenly, the lead was just one. However, Smith quickly bounced back with a birdie on 15.
After the birdie and some bogeys from his competitors, Smith’s lead stretched back to four: “Then we’re just hanging on and don’t do anything stupid.” Which he didn’t, carding three pars to seal the win.
“It’s the biggest tournament I’ve won, so you know, there’s a lot of butterflies. But you just have to take deep breaths and stay slow, and it’s going to work out.”
Marshall went on to finish in second at 3-under, while John Hadges (Thorny Lea GC, MA) and past champion John McNeill (Amateur Golf Tour of NE, MA) tied for third at 2-under.