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.