Burdick, Kennedy ascend to the top
GREENFIELD — Up until about six weeks ago, Dave Kennedy wasn’t even planning to play in the Invitational Four-Ball.
On Thursday, he and partner Nate Burdick played virtually flawless team golf and tamed an otherwise difficult course en route to a 7-under-par 65 for medalist honors at the 68th Invitational on a dreary afternoon at the Country Club of Greenfield.
“I had only checked with one other guy and Nate was going to play with Jay (Spofford) again,” said Kennedy, who won the Invitational with longtime partner Don Foberg in 2002, 2003 and 2009. “Nate didn’t even call. He sent me a text.”
“I (wrote), ‘Spoff’s out, you wanna play?’ And he replied ‘K’,” added Burdick, who teamed up with Jack Varner to win the 2005 title. “This is one of my favorite tournaments to play; it’s the perfect balance of competition, camaraderie and history. And it’s always good to play with a friend.”
Burdick and Kennedy were one of only seven teams to break 70 in the top 24 groups, which dealt with dramatic changes in the course conditions throughout the round.
Kennedy made a 35-footer on the first hole to get the tandem off to a quick start, but it wasn’t until Burdick got up and down from the bunker for a birdie on the par-5 eighth that they were able to get to 2-under.
On the ninth, Burdick stuck his approach on the par-4 to eight feet, but gladly picked up when Kennedy jarred a difficult side-hill putt from 30 feet to put them at 3-under at the turn.
After pars on 10 and 11, Kennedy two-putted for a birdie on the short par-5 12th (Burdick was a foot away for birdie), then he flipped a wedge to eight feet on the par-4 13th and made that for birdie to move the team to 5-under.
Kennedy finished it off with a pair of birdie putts on Nos. 16 and 18 to complete a bogey-free round and clinch the second seed in the Championship Division.
“Davey played great today, he rolled it really good (on the greens),” said Burdick.
“A lot if it was patience,” added Kennedy. “We were on the seventh tee (1-under) and said the scores were probably going to a little higher (today).”
Kennedy, who sat out last year’s tourney when Foberg was unable to play, thought in retrospect that the year away may have been for the best.
“I came up and watched a little bit, missed it a little bit, but I wanted to play with someone I was comfortable with. I didn’t want to play with someone just to play,” he said. “Don and I had been together a long time and have had a lot of success, so — in my mind — whoever came in had some big shoes to fill.”
To which Burdick jokingly replied, “I had to show him my resume before he said yes.”
Defending champions Dennis Booska and KC Finley, who carded a solid 4-under 68 qualifying round, are automatically seeded No. 1 and will take on 16th seeds Mark Vincelette and Steve Lefave of Tekoa Country Club in Westfield this morning at 10:27 a.m. to highlight the upper half of the bracket in the Championship Division.
Also in the top half of the draw, Gary Hunt and Ken Hunt parlayed a 5-under 67 into the fourth seed, which earned them a first-round matchup with 13th seeds Pat McGuire and Aaron Wheeler at 10:09. Max Wolanske and Sam Wolanske fired a 68 for the fifth seed, and they’ll face 12th seeds Matt Eaton and Jared Ewart (72) at 10 a.m., while Cody Booska and Troy Miller finished with a 2-under 70 and got the eighth seed, pitting them against No. 9-seeded Paul DeNofrio and Ron Laverdiere at 10:18.
Burdick and Kennedy highlight the lower half of the bracket. They’ll open match play today at 9:51 against 15th seeds Mark Cady and Paul Vincelette (74).
Chris Austin and Andy Lesenski, the 2011 champions, finished with a 5-under 67 and earned the third seed. They’ll take on 14th seeds Justin McCloud and Kevin Ward (74) at 9:33.
Hometown boys Jason Kelton and Jamie Crocker fired a solid 69 and will make their first appearance in the Championship Division, but they’ve also drawn the toughest first-round opponents they could have expected — five-time champions Tom Bergeron and Gary Burt, who were seeded 11th after carding a 72. Their match will be first off the tee in the Championship Division, at 9:24.
Also, Chris McElligott and Bob Rainville (69) earned No. 7 seed and will take on host club duo and 10th seeds Brodie Conant and Scott Cote at 9:42.
Burdick knows the tournament really starts today.
“The goal was just to get somewhere in the top 16, and we did that,” said Burdick. “(But) we can’t take this round with us, tomorrow everyone starts from scratch and it’s head to head. ... Like I’ve said in years past, anything can happen in this tournament and anything usually does.”