Pair of 63s highlight day of nice weather, low scores
4-Ball veteran Gary Burt putts Thursday on No. 1 at the Country Club of Greenfield, where he teamed with fellow veteran Tom Bergeron for a 4-under 68 to qualify for the Championship Flight.
Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »
David Donoghue of the host Country Club of Greenfield tees off on Par-3 No. 2 Thursday during the Invitational 4-Ball qualifying round. He and partner Rick Kendrew made the grade for the Championship Flight with a 4-under 68.
Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »
Ron Laverdiere sinks putt on No. 1 Thursday during qualifying-round action for the Country Club of Greenfield's annual Invitational 4-Ball, where he and partner Paul DeNofrio shot 4-under 68 to make the Championship-Flight grade. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »
Tom Bergeron tees off on 2 Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »
Tom Bergeron putts on one Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »
Paul DeNofrio on 1 Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »
Rick Kendrew on 2 Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »
GREENFIELD — It was a most unusual opening morning for the Invitational Four-Ball Tournament at the Country Club of Greenfield: a lush, soft layout, temperatures hovering in the mid-60s, and virtually no wind.
In other words, it was a day for going low.
Troy Miller and Scott Serwa of Crumpin-Fox Club in Bernardston torched the 6,337-yard layout for a 9-under-par 63, and the host club’s Alex Siano and Will Conant — playing in the group directly behind them — also fired a 63 to share medalist honors in the 69th Invitational on Thursday.
A mind-boggling 13 teams posted rounds of 68 or lower in the Top 24 to qualify for the Championship Flight.
Miller and Serwa didn’t make a birdie early but started their run to co-medalist with am eagle on the 287-yard, par-4 seventh hole when Miller smashed 3-wood off the tee that came to rest 15 feet from the cup and drained the straightaway putt for a deuce.
Their only other highlight on the front nine was on the par-5 eighth, where Miller reached the green in two and two-putted from 20 feet for birdie, putting them 3-under at the turn.
Serwa got his game going on the back side. He rolled in an uphill 20-footer for birdie on the par-4 10th hole, then with Miller out of the hole on the par-5 12th, he hit a chip to 18 inches and tapped that in for another birdie.
Miller hit his drive on the 280-yard, par-4 13th just to the right of the bunker, then chipped to six feet and drained that birdie to put them 6-under.
Both players got into trouble on the par-5 14th and wound up missing long par putt to suffer their only bogey on the day, but they made up for in a big way.
Both players hit their tee shots to about 15 feet on the par-3 15th, and Miller eventually rolled in his birdie putt. Serwa knocked his approach to eight feet on the par-4 16th, while Miller hit a punch shot from under the trees on the right to 25 feet from the hole. While Serwa studied his putt, Miller drained his putt for another birdie.
Serwa hit another nice short approach on the par-4 17th that stopped eight feet from the cup and drained the birdie to make it 8-under, then they capped it off on the par-4 18th when Serwa knocked a 60-yard pitch to inside 10 feet and Miller put his 40-yarder 15 feet from the cup. Miller just burned the edge, but Serwa made his to close out the back nine with a 6-under 30.
“We got off to a slow start,” said Miller. “We hit some goods shots but the putts didn’t fall. The eagle on 7 really put us in a great mind set, and the rest of the round was fun. We kept hitting good shots and the putts started to drop.”
Miller said he’s glad he got Serwa as a teammate.
“We seem to have a good connection as a team,” he explained. “I feel like we have the same kind of game, plus he’s a spectacular putter and that should help us a ton this weekend. ... You can hit 18 greens, but if you can’t make putts, you’re not going to win.”
Siano and Conant got off to a quicker start, a good one, as Conant dropped a 20-foot birdie putt on the 421-yard, par-4 third hole, then both hit tee shots inside 10 feet on the 185-yard, par-3 fifth and Conant drained his nine-foot attempt. He then reached the fringe in two and eventually made a 10-footer for birdie on No. 8.
Siano finally stepped to the forefront and delivered the shot of the day on the par-4 ninth.
His tee shot came to rest 152 yards from the flag, on the left side of the fairway. He had a 9-iron into the cup, cut in the middle just below the ridge on the lower tier of the green.
With Conant off the green in two, Siano wanted to keep it simple.
“I just wanted to get it on the green and make a par,” he recalled.
So he flew his approach shot right into the cup on the fly for an improbable eagle.
“It looked like it was right at it (flag), then I heard a noise,” explained Siano. “There are logs behind the green and I didn’t see it bounce so I thought maybe I hit it long, but that would have been kind of far for a 9-iron. Then I looked up at the 10th tee, and they put their arms up, like (signaling for) a touchdown. I couldn’t believe it. A shot like that is luck.”
Conant said Siano’s eagle turned him into a prophet of sorts.
“(Alex) said it before we started,” said Conant. “He said, ‘Someone is going to have to hole one out to make a skin.’”
The due rode that momentum for the next several holes. On the 11th, both players hit their tee shot inside 12 feet. Siano putted first and made the birdie to push their score to 6-under.
On No. 12, Conant laced a drive down the middle of the fairway, 195 yards from the hole, then he stuffed a 5-iron approach to 2 feet below the hole. Siano also reached the green in two and narrowly missed his eagle, but Conant confidently drilled his to push their score to 8-under.
Siano capped off the barrage when he drove the green and nearly drained a 25-foot eagle try, settling for a tap-in birdie.
Conant though he was having a case of deja vu in the clubhouse afterward.
“When I got in I saw 63 on the board and thought it was ours, but then I noticed there were different names (Miller and Serwa), and I was like ‘You rats’!” said Conant with a smile.
“It was definitely better than we were expecting,” added Conant. “We were just having a fun time.”
With defending champions Dave Kennedy and Nate Burdick set as the No. 1 seed, Miller and Scott earned the No. 2 seed in the lower half of the bracket and will take on No. 15 seeds Jamie Crocker and Jason Kelton of the host club (71) at 9:51 this morning in the opening round of match play.
Elsewhere in the lower bracket, Siano and Conant are seeded third and will go up against 14th seeds Garrett Cousineau and Chris Bourbeau of Thomas Memorial Golf & Country Club in Turners Falls (71) at 9:33 a.m. Brodie Conant and Scott Cote of the host club carded a 67 to gain the sixth seed, which will put them up against 11th seeds David Donoghue and Rick Kendrew (68) at 9:24, and Mark Cady and Paul Vincelette (68) were seeded seventh and go up against host club duo and 10th seeds Matt Eaton and Jared Ewart (68) at 9:42.
In the upper half of the draw, Kennedy and Burdick (66) will open defense of their title against 16th seeds Chris McElligott and Robert Rainville (71) at 10:27.
Patrick McGuire and Aaron Wheeler fired a 66 to grab the fourth seed and will get a test in their first-round match, as they on Invitational veterans and 13th seeds Tom Bergeron and Gary Burt (68) at 10:09.
KC Finley and Cody Booska cruised to a 5-under 67 and were seeded fifth, pitting them against 12th seeds Greenfield native Paul DeNofrio and Ron LaVerdiere of Crumpion-Fox at 10 a.m.
The final match in the flight — the 8-9 matchup — will be an all-Framingham CC battle, as Jake Simpson and Norm Burns will take on Chris Pavlic and Tom McLaughlin at 10:18 a.m.