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WOBURN — The region’s grateful golf community came out to pay homage to Lynn native and longtime PGA professional Paul Barkhouse (and wife Nancy) Nov. 17 at an emotional retirement party held at Woburn Country Club.
“To have you all here for me tonight is unbelievable,” the ever-humble Barkhouse, 76, told the gathering of close to 150. “It is really something for a kid from Lynn.”
Barkhouse, best known as the head professional at Woburn the past 17 years and earlier in his career for 12 years at Ferncroft Country Club, was especially moved by the presence of 13 of his fellow PGA pros, including former Ipswich CC head pro Steve Carter, who flew in from Akron, Ohio, where he has been a general manager for 10 years.
Among the other professionals in attendance were North Shore favorites Bob Green, Jim Tobin, John O’Connor, Donnie Lyons, Jim Lane and Bill Lindquist, plus Joe Carr, David Lane, Dana Janis, Andy Froude, Jack Neville and Tony Morosco, former PGA of America Professional of the Year. Tobin, Lyons, Jim Lane, and Morosco are members of the New England PGA Hall of Fame, as is 2000 inductee Barkhouse.
“Paul has been one of the best club professionals in Massachusetts and New England for a very long time,” said Green, who will be serving as Tedesco’s head professional in 2018 for the 40th consecutive year. “We all know he was a legend as an amateur around here. He only enhanced that legend during his outstanding career as a PGA professional.
“When I was a kid at Happy Valley (now named Larry Gannon Municipal) in Lynn, Paul was the Pied Piper as Larry Gannon’s assistant, the way he could hit the ball a mile, be such a fine player and be so helpful to any kid he saw. He was always willing to give gentle guidance to one and all. He was the same way throughout his professional career,” continued Green. “He never changed as a person either, even after his time on the PGA Tour and later as one of the best players the NEPGA ever saw.”
Green closed his remarks by relating a story told by just-retired Bear Hill head pro Eric Stevenson. “When Eric bumped into some Philadelphia-area pros and he mentioned the name Paul Barkhouse to them, they replied, ‘You mean Bionic Barkhouse?’ ”
Jesse Menachem, executive director of the Massachusetts Golf Association, called Barkhouse, winner of the 1976 Massachusetts Open in a dramatic playoff with Bob Menne and Bruce Douglass at Worcester, “as storied a golf professional as we have in Massachusetts today; a true ambassador of the game.”
Carter, Barkhouse’s multi-year partner in the NEPGA Pro-Pro championship, called Paul “my favorite player in the world. He gave me a wonderful outlook in the game and my career. And he always made golf fun.”
North Shore Golf magazine columnist Gary Larrabee shared with those in attendance his 50-year relationship with Barkhouse, which started in 1968 when he latched on as Barkhouse’s permanent caddie for two seasons. “I later became his unofficial publicist, or so people thought, when Barkie became head pro at Ferncroft and I covered his exploits for The Salem Evening News. We won a few NEPGA Pro-Press titles together and he set me up with some special interviews with Ferncroft guest golfers Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays and Brent Musburger. I consider myself blessed to be able to honor Paul tonight, a half century after we first met.”
Three letters of congratulation were read, one by Larrabee from PGA of America president Paul Levy, one by Carr from NEPGA president Ron Bibeau and one by emcee Barry Donovan of Woburn CC from Pete Bevacqua, CEO of the PGA of America. Donovan was the chairman of the event.
Also attending were Paul’s wife of 47 years, Nancy Galeazzi Barkhouse, their daughter, Tracy Winter, and her three children – Savanna, Vin and Dagan.
It was a marvelous night for North Shore golf. Barkhouse has been an exemplary face of professional golf for 53 years, a champion player, instructor and mentor; a friend to all who love the game.
With the final MGA regional event of the 2017 season having wrapped up at the Cape Cod Amateur Championship, final points for the Massachusetts Golf Association Player of the Year points have been accumulated in respective divisions.
Upon final tallies, Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) as the 2017 Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year while Boxford’s Frank Vana Jr. (Marlborough CC), pictured above, has collected George M. Cohen MGA Senior Player of the Year accolades and Gloucester’s Mark Turner (Bass Rocks GC) the Christopher Cutler Rich MGA Junior Player of the Year recognition. The announcement was made by the Massachusetts Golf Association Championships Committee under the direction of Director of Rules and Competition, Kevin Eldridge.
“After another tremendous season, we are thrilled to announce that based on their performance throughout the 2017 competitive season, Matt Parziale, Frank Vana Jr. and Mark Turner have accumulated the most points in their divisions and have earned the prestigious honor of being named MGA Players of the Year,” said Eldridge. “With their top play, all three competitors represented the Massachusetts Golf Association in events across the Bay State, New England and the United States with class and we are thrilled that we get to honor all three of these players for their hard work.”
Parziale, Vana and Turner will be recognized as part of the annual Salute to Champions Dinner at Wellesley Country Club on January 11, alongside the champions from each of the 12 MGA Championship propers and select WGAM Championship propers held during the 2017 season.
MATT PARZIALE (THORNY LEA GC)
»» RICHARD D. HASKELL MGA PLAYER OF THE YEAR
He’s won the MGA’s top award three times, including two of the last three years, but Matt Parziale’s fourth time being named the Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year is by far the most memorable as the Brockton Firefighter and top-amateur golfer set personal records that will be hard for him to ever match again, nevertheless anyone else.
The 30-year Parziale, ranked No. 174 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, made national headlines in mid-October when he captured the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship after an exciting week at Atlanta’s Capital City Club – the first national championship for Parziale in what has been a summer of firsts.
After competing in nearly a dozen Massachusetts Amateur Championships over the course of his career, Parziale picked up his first Massachusetts Amateur title in 2017 after five days of grueling golf that ended with him defeating Matt Cowgill 4&3 in the 36-hole Championship match. Alongside fellow MGA competitor and longtime friend Herbie Aikens, Parziale also captured his second straight MGA Four Ball title and then went south to compete in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship during the 2017 season.
He won the Norfolk County Classic in May, the Amateur Invitational in June, the Ouimet Memorial Tournament in July and the Tarlow Invitational in August, while an array of top-5 finishes in other MGA and regional events helped guide him to a stellar 1,603 Player of the Year points, the most points by an individual in a single season since the MGA began recognizing the award in 1976.
With his fourth Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year, Parziale moves into a tie for second most Player of the Year Awards with Kevin Johnson, who won four straight from 1985-1988. Only Frank Vana’s nine awards are more.
FRANK VANA, JR. (MARLBOROUGH CC)
»» GEORGE M. COHEN MGA SENIOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
In his first year of eligibility as a senior, Frank Vana Jr. finished near the top of the leaderboard in nearly every competitive event during the 2017 season, a season highlighted by a semifinal finish at the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship – an event he became eligible for exactly five days before the stroke play portion began – at the Minikhada Club in Minneapolis, Minn.
A 9-time MGA Player of the Year, Vana, who last won the award in 2007, garnered 500 total points in the George M. Cohen Senior Player of the Year standings, including 275 for his performance at the U.S. Senior Amateur, the 32nd career USGA Championship appearance for the Boxford resident.
Vana also accumulated 125 points for earning medalist honors at the US Senior Amateur Championship local qualifier that was held at Charter Oak Country Club in early August and 55 points for his T4 finish at the Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship, which took place at Watertown’s Oakley Country Club in mid-September. The Marlborough Country Club member Vana, a 2016 Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame inductee, also finished T6 at the Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship, finishing only eight strokes off the lead of 2017 victor, Colin Brennan.
At the 109th Massachusetts Amateur Championship in July, Frank Vana also set a record by qualifying for the match play portion of the Championship Proper for the 27th time in his career, the most by any competitor in MGA history.
MARK TURNER (BASS ROCKS GC)
»» CHRISTOPHER CUTLER RICH MGA JUNIOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Mark Turner, an 18-year-old from Gloucester, had another tremendous season on the links, accumulating 523 points in the Christopher Cutler Rich MGA Junior Player of the Year standings, a margin of over 100 points for the next highest competitor. The former St. John’s Prep star, who will compete for Dartmouth College beginning next fall alongside older brother James, finished 6th and 17th, respectively, in the standings the past two years, while his 298 points in this year’s Richard D. Haskell Player of the Year standings saw him finish ninth overall.
No stranger to the Massachusetts golfing scene, Turner, who plays out of Bass Rock Golf Club, got off to an early start by placing fourth at the 2017 Hornblower Memorial Tournament, then followed up his superior play with noteworthy performances in the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, the Junior Amateur Championship and the New England Amateur Championship.
After shooting a 1-over 141 in two rounds of stroke play at the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, Turner advanced all the way to the quarterfinal round of match play after knocking off Doug Clapp in 20 holes then besting Kevin Gately 5&4 before falling to eventual champion Matt Parziale.
He finished fourth at the 99th playing of the Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship, four strokes off champion Dillon Brown, held at the Orchards Golf Club while also finishing T6 at the New England Amateur Championship. Competing on Team Massachusetts at the 2017 New England Junior Amateur Championship, Turner finished sixth at 2-under 214 in the 54-hole contest.
Turner also won the 2017 Northern Junior Championship, an event where Massachusetts competitors swept the podium, while placing third at the World Series of Junior Golf in early July at Triggs Memorial Golf Course in Rhode Island.
For more information on all the champions from each of the 12 MGA Championship propers, visit mgalinks.org.
The WGAM Player of the Year will be announced upon the conclusion of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, which is taking place at Houston’s Champions Golf Club November 11-16.
The Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund will present its first annual Ouimet Golf Professional of the Year award to long-time Tedesco Country Club professional Bob Green this fall.
The award will annually recognize a New England PGA Professional for not only their efforts and achievements in guiding the young men and women who work for them to the Francis Ouimet Scholarship, but also their ongoing mentoring through college and beyond. The recipient will be someone who works closely with The Fund and plays an important role in promoting both the scholarship to kids, their parents and also the various Ouimet programs to the club membership.
Green, a North Shore Golf magazine contributing writer who has been head professional at Tedesco for 39 years, is one of the strongest promoters of the scholarship. Over the years, Bob has been serving as the Head Golf Professional, Tedesco has had 140 Ouimet Scholars including all four of his children who worked as caddies or in the pro shop. Each fall, Bob organizes a meeting with all potential scholarship recipients and their parents to explain the benefits of being a Ouimet Scholar and offers them help on how to navigate the application process. Bob works tirelessly with Tedesco’s Ouimet Chairperson, Michael Zmetrovich, to ensure that all club caddies and golf employees take advantage of this scholarship opportunity. They also work together to keep the rest of the Tedesco Membership involved in the mentoring process as well as the support of The Fund’s critical fundraising programs, including the Bag Tag and Golf Marathon. Bob Green demonstrates how integral a role the golf professional plays in the Ouimet programs and the future of those young Ouimet Scholars.
“Frankly, I am literally speechless receiving this award. The Ouimet Scholarship has been such an asset for the young men and women who have worked at our club over the years. They are such outstanding kids and being able to help them every year was an honor itself,” said Mr. Green when informed of the award.
The Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund was founded in 1949. Ouimet Scholars have served at least two years as caddies or in pro shop or course superintendent operations in Massachusetts, and many have gone on to outstanding positions of leadership in business and professional careers. Over the years The Fund has awarded nearly $34 Million in need-based tuition assistance scholarships to 5,700 students. In 2017-2018, The Fund will award a record $2 Million in financial awards to 345 Students. The Ouimet Fund is a 501 (c)(3) organization and is considered, “The Golf Charity of Massachusetts™.”
PHOTO BY DAVID COLT
Matt Parziale, shown putting in the Mass Four-Ball Championship earlier this year.
NEWTON — Matt Parziale ended the championship dreams of two North Shore golfers today in the 109th Massachusetts Amateur tourney at Charles River Country Club. The Thorny Lea member ousted Charlie May (Ferncroft CC) 4&3 in the morning, a continuation of Wednesday’s Round of 16 match halted by bad weather. In today’s early Round of 8 match, Parziale eliminated Mark Turner (Bass Rocks GC), 1-up. Turner had beaten Kevin Gately of Harmon GC 1-up earlier today, in their Round of 16 match.
Nick Maccario (Bradford CC), who had beaten Herbie Aikens (Pinehills CC) 2&1 this morning, was ousted by Jackson Lang (Nashawtuc CC) in their Round of 8 match.
Swampscott’s Steven DiLisio (Salem CC) lost to Cody Booska (CC of Greenfield) 1-up in the continuation of their Round of 16 match today.
There are four golfers still alive in the championship. Parziale and Lang are going head-to-head now, with Parziale 3-up through nine holes. Billy Walthouse (Longmeadow GC) and Matt Cowgill (Wayland CC) are in the other semi-final match; Cowgill was 1-up after 11 holes at 3:45 p.m. today.
The winners of those two matches will meet in the 36-hole final tomorrow.
PHOTO BY DAVID COLT
Nick Maccario of Bradford Country Club
NEWTON — Swampscott’s Steven DiLisio‘s dream of winning the 109th Massachusetts Amateur Championship ended this morning. The 19-year-old golfer, who plays out of Salem Country Club, was ousted by Cody Booska (CC of Greenfield) 1-up. The Round of 16 match, which began yesterday at Charles River Country Club, was delayed by bad weather and completed this morning.
In fact, Mother Nature was not kind yesterday as four separate suspensions of play wreaked havoc on the third day of competition. The day called for the completion of the round of 32 and the round of 16. However, after delays that totaled two hours and 40 minutes – the first of which came just before 10:57 a.m. – only the round of 32 was completed. Only one round of 16 match was completed when the final suspension of play horn sounded at 6:16 p.m.
Play resumed at 7:45 a.m. today. All rounds started from the spot where they left off on Wednesday evening. Several North Shore golfers are still in the running. As of 8:30 this morning, Nick Maccario (Bradford CC) led Herbie Aikens (Pinehills CC) 3-up after 12 holes, Charlie May (Ferncroft CC) was 2-down to Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea) after seven holes, and Mark Turner (Bass Rocks GC) was 2-up on Kevin Gately (Harmon CC) after seven holes.
Check back here for updates throughout the day.
Here’s a roundup of yesterday’s Round of 32 matches of North Shore players:.
Steven DiLisio (Salem CC) def. Stephen Demare (George Wright GC), 2 up
Despite a hole in one by Demare on the 4th hole, stroke-play medalist DiLisio battled back from a 2-down deficit thanks in part to three straight birdies made on the 14th, 15th and 16th holes. The birdie stretch was much needed after DiLisio, who had made just six bogies through his first 36 holes, carded five bogies through eight holes. Demare, playing in what is his first ever MGA Championship Proper, carded bogey on the last two holes.
Cody Booska (CC of Greenfield) def. Chris Francoeur(Amesbury G & CC), 5 and 4
Days after winning the CC of Greenfield club championship by 11 strokes, Booska needed just 14 holes to defeat Francoeur. Following a bogie-birdie start, Booska took advantage of a stretch of holes where Francoeur made five straight bogies to break out to a 5-up lead through nine holes. Although Francoeur made birdie on the 10th hole, it was not enough as Booska closed out the match with a win on the 14th hole with a par.
Nick Maccario (Bradford CC) def. Brian Bassett (Oyster Harbors), 4 and 3
Maccario made his first birdie of the day on the 6th hole to take an early 1-up lead over Basset. The lead grew to 2 up for Maccario after Basset suffered bogies on the 10th and 11th holes. Maccario then made his final move of the match by making birdie on the 12th, 14th and 15th holes to earn victory in 15 holes.
Mark Turner (Bass Rocks GC) def. Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich GC), 20 holes
The match was all square through nine holes before Turner made two bogies – on the 10th and 11th holes – to give Clapp a 2-up advantage. It was a lead that Clapp would hold through 14 holes when he carded a bogey on the 482-yard, par 5 15th hole. Turner made birdie on the next hole to even the match and then he took a 1-up lead when Clapp made bogey on the 17th hole. On the 18th hole, Clapp evened the score with a par to force extra holes. The players both made par on the first extra hole before Turner was able to execute and make birdie on the second playoff hole for the victory.
Charlie May (Ferncroft CC) def. Michael Souliotis (Haverhill CC), 4 and 3
Following a roller-coaster first six holes where he made two birdies, one bogey and one double bogey, May managed to right the ship and played his next five holes at even par. Souliotis managed one birdie – on the 4th hole – but bogies carded on the 5th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th holes proved to be costly as he was 4-down through 11 holes. He managed to get one back after a May bogie n the 12th hole, but May closed out the match with three straight pars.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MASSACHUSETTS GOLF ASSOCIATION
Medalist Steven DiLisio (right) with Harry McCracken, Jr. (center) and MGA Executive Director Jesse Menachem.
NEWTON – It was a first of historic proportions, for Swampscott’s Steven DeLisio and the Massachusetts Golf Association.
For the first time in Massachusetts Amateur Championship history, the stroke-play medalist (i.e. the individual who posts the lowest cumulative score following the 36-hole stroke-play portion of the event) was awarded the Harry B. McCracken, Jr. Stroke Play Medalist Award.
The individual receiving that award was 19-year-old DiLisio, who plays out of Salem Country Club. .
Over a two-day period, DiLisio posted a score of 3-under par 137 to finish as medalist and earn the top seed heading into match play, which will begin this morning at 8 at Charles River Country Club in Newton. DeLisio squares off against Stephen Demare of George Wright GC.
This year’s cut line fell at 7-over par 147 with the final two spots being decided in a five-for-two sudden-death playoff that lasted six holes on Tuesday evening. Brett Krekorian of Indian Ridge was eliminated in the playoff.
The first two rounds of match play – round of 32 and round of 16 – will be contested today. The quarterfinals and semifinals will take place on Thursday with the finale coming on Friday when the last two competitors standing will compete in a 36-hole final match.
For DiLisio, this year marks only the second time in his career that he has advanced to match play. Two years ago at Oak Hill Country Club, DiLisio was defeated in the round of 32 by Matthew Naumec (GreatHorse).
“It is a great honor,” said DiLisio just prior to the official medalist ceremony which included McCracken as well as a crowd of competitors, club members and spectators. “To be the first one is pretty awesome. He has been out here for as long as I have been playing tournaments and a lot longer than I have been playing. I have been able to spend some time with him at the New England events and it is just such an honor to share this with him.”
After posting a 1-under par 69 on Monday DiLisio bettered his play by carding a 2-under par 68 to secure himself the top seed.
“I have played pretty solid both days,” said DiLisio, who finished with five birdies on Tuesday. “I started well today and birdied my first hole and just seemed like I was off to a solid start. I have been hitting it really well. I had a lot of scoring irons and wedges into the green and I think I hit 16 or 17 greens today.”
Despite living just an hour away from Charles River Country Club, DiLisio was unfamiliar with the course until just a few weeks ago. A club member Charlie Deehan – whom DiLisio had recently met – invited him to play in a member-guest.
Without laying an eye on the course, DiLisio made birdie on the first five holes that day.
“Mr. Deehan said that he liked to win and that I better play well,” said DiLisio with a laugh. “I birdied one and two and he was giving me a hard time about starting and said, ‘Well you have to birdie the first five or it doesn’t matter,’ and then I birdied the first five which was funny. It was a lot of fun.”
Through 36 holes, DiLisio has made seven birdies and one hole in one.
Several other North Shore golfers advanced to today’s match play: Chris Francoeur of Haverhill plays Cody Brooks of CC of Greenfield; Nick Maccario of Bradford CC faces Brian Bassett of Oyster Harbor; Charlie May of Ferncroft plays Michael Soulotis of Haverhill CC; Mark Turner of Bass Rocks plays Doug Clapp of Old Sandwich GC.
Other local competitors were Bradford Tufts, Tedesco; Zack Ungvarsky, Bradford; Kevin Daly, Salem CC; Phil Miceli, Sagamore Springs; Gregory Poor, Haverhill; Christopher Brewer, Beverly G&T; Athan Goulos, Ferncroft; Ryan Anderson, Beverly G&T; Andrew Gerety, Bellevue; Matt Schena, Haverhill; Sean Andrews, Thomson; James Turner, Bass Rocks.
PHOTO: DAVID COLT
Steven DiLisio, at Charles River Country Club, on Monday.
Newton, MA — Winning championships takes a lot of skill and a little bit of luck, and Steven DiLisio (Salem CC) had both during the first day of the109th Massachusetts Amateur Championship, which is being held this week – over a five-day period – at Charles River Country Club.
On this day, DiLisio, a 19-year-old rising sophomore at Duke University, made a hole in one on the 177-yard, par 3 14th hole to highlight a day-low score of 1-under par 69. Following the first round of play, DiLisio finds himself tied for the overall lead with Herbie Aikens (Pinehills GC).
“I felt like I played pretty smart out there and made a lot of good tee shots that set me up for some easier shots into the greens,” said DiLisio, who won five Massachusetts Junior Amateur divisional titles over five years from 2009 to 2013. “If you get on the wrong side on these greens it can get ugly. I felt like it was a solid start, and that I left some out there. I had some sketchy short irons that might be 10 or 15 feet but on the wrong side so you end up having to play defense. I would like to clean that up and make a few more putts.”
One putt on Monday that DiLisio did not have to make was on that 14th hole. After making the turn at even par 35, DiLisio suffered two bogies – on the 11th and 12th holes – and was looking for a momentum changer.
“That was really important for my round more than anything,” said DiLisio who decided to make an aggressive swing with a 7 iron after watching his playing partner come up short just minutes prior. “We didn’t actually see it go in because there was a lot of glare on the green. We knew it landed in front and thought it went over, but we walked up there and saw that it went in.”
DiLisio would go on to make one additional birdie – on the 522-yard, par 5 15th hole – and three birdies to cap off his 1-under par round.
“I have gotten into match play once and that was two years ago,” said DiLisio. “Today was a good start.”
As the 23rd-ranked player in the 2016 recruiting class in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings coming out of high school, DiLisio lived up to his billing during a solid freshman campaign with the Blue Devils where he finished as the individual champion of the 2017 Heel/Pack Individual Tournament. Earlier this season he advanced to U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying for the first time in his career.
“I haven’t played year round until this past year and it makes a huge difference to be in that environment and playing with guys with high expectations,” said DiLisio of his first year of collegiate golf. “You start to raise your level and start matching what you are seeing out of them and out of yourself and you can get good quick and I have felt like I have made some big improvements.”
One additional highlight from this year which might not be as well documented was a hole in one that he scored in May at Salem Country Club during a friendly match with his grandfather and brother. It was the first time that he had ever made a hole in one, so making yet another just eight weeks later during arguably the biggest tournament of his summer season is icing on the cake.
“This is big for sure,” said DiLisio. “This year has a really good field and it’s always a good tournament.”
Joining DiLisio atop the leaderboard at 1-under par 69 is Aikens, who at 35 years old appears to be the elder statesman among a field whose average age is 30.2 and includes more than 45 NCAA collegiate players.
North Shore golfers scores: Michael Souliotis, Haverhill, 71; Mark Turner, Bass Rocks, 71; Nick Maccario, Bradford, 72; Charlie May, Ferncroft, 72; Brett Krekorian, Indian Ridge, 72; Phil Miceli, Sagamore Springs, 73; Chris Francoeur, Amesbury, 74; Zack Ungvarsky, Bradford, 74; Gregory Poor, Haverhill, 75; Bradford Tufts, Tedesco, 75; Kevin Daly, Salem CC, 77; Matt Schena, Haverhill, 79; Sean Andrews, Thomson, 84; Athan Goulos, Ferncroft, 84; James Turner, Bass Rocks, 85.
The low 32 scorers following 36 holes of stroke play will continue on to Match Play Competition, which is scheduled to begin on Wednesday.
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Golf Association. Photograph by David Colt.
PEABODY – John Daly has withdrawn from the U.S. Senior Open Championship, the USGA has announced. The reason cited is a shoulder injury.
Fan-favorite Daly, who was fully exempt, will be replaced in the field by Ted Tryba, of Orlando, Fla., the second alternate from the Dunedin, Fla., sectional qualifying site.
Steve Stricker putts during last weekend’s U.S. Open Championship in Wisconsin.
By BILL BROTHERTON
Steve Stricker and Dave Eichelberger have withdrawn from the 2017 U.S. Senior Open Championship at Salem Country Club in Peabody. Stricker cited his playing schedule as the reason, while Eichelberger pulled out because of health reasons.
The championship will be held Thursday, June 29 through Sunday, July 2, at the acclaimed Donald Ross-designed course. Practice rounds will officially begin on Monday, but some players, including Billy Andrade and Rocco Mediate, have already tested out the challenging 6815-yard, par-70 course.
Stricker is coming off a sparkling 3-under final round at the U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills in his native Wisconsin last weekend. He finished tied for 16th place at 5-under for the tournament. Stricker had played his way into the field of last weekend’s Open, shooting 67-65 at the Tennessee sectional qualifier, after the United States Golf Association had rejected his request for a special exemption.
Stricker was fully exempt and was expected to play in his first year of eligibility for the U.S. Senior Open. He will be replaced in the field by Danny Mulhearn of Wheaton, Ill., the first alternate from the Aurora, Ill. sectional qualifying site.
“In looking at my playing schedule and other obligations for the upcoming months, I feel it is best for me to withdraw from the U.S. Senior Open next week,” said Stricker. “With playing both the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions this year and the final push I needed to make these last two months to qualify for the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, has my mind and body telling me that I need to rest and recharge. This was without a doubt a hard decision, but one that I feel is needed in order for me to get ready for the next stretch of events and to play at the level I expect of myself.”
Mulhearn, 50, shot 71 at Aurora Country Club on June 5. He is playing in his first U.S. Senior Open. Mulhearn is the head golf professional at Glen Oak Country Club, in Glen Ellyn, Ill.
Eichelberger, who won the 1999 U.S. Senior Open Championship, was fully exempt. He will be replaced in the field by amateur Steve Fink, of Las Vegas, Nev., the first alternate from the Murrieta, Calif., sectional qualifying site.
Fink, 60, shot 72 at Bear Creek Golf Club on May 22. He is playing in his first U.S. Senior Open.
Eichelberger, 73, has competed in 23 consecutive U.S. Senior Opens, dating back to 1994. It is the third-longest streak in the history of the championship. Dale Douglass and Arnold Palmer played in 26 and 25 consecutive Senior Opens, respectively. Eichelberger has played in 40 USGA championships, including 14 U.S. Opens.