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.