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Field loaded again for 74th Invitational Four-Ball

  • Chris Ferriter tees off as partner Joe Wilson looks on during last year’s Invitational Four-Ball at the Country Club of Greenfield. Ferriter and Wilson are the defending champions, and they tee off at 12:27 p.m. on Thursday. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • Chris Bourbeau, shown here in a previous tournament, should be in the mix again with partner Garrett Cousineau at the 74th Invitational Four-Ball at the Country Club of Greenfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • Two-time champion Brodie Conant is partnering with five-time champion Dennis Booska in the 74th Invitational Four-Ball at the Country Club of Greenfield. The tandem tees off at 10:11 a.m. on Thursday. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/23/2019 9:08:53 PM

It could be one of the more competitive fields in recent years, as the 74th Invitational Four-Ball at the Country Club of Greenfield begins its four-day run Thursday morning when the first groups of the prestigious event tee off at 7:15 a.m. with 18-hole stroke-play qualifying. The event runs through Sunday.

Last year’s winners Joe Wilson and Chris Ferriter broke a string of success for local teams, as the Holyoke tandem became the first out-of-towners in a decade to claim the top spot when they defeated CCG standouts Cody Booska and KC Finley, 2 & 1, in the final.

Wilson and Ferriter are back to defend their title, and it’ll be the fourth Four-Ball appearance for the pair when they tee off at 12:27 p.m. on Thursday. After failing to make the Championship Flight cut in their debut in 2016, they reached the quarterfinals in 2017 and eventually fell in the Consolation Final to Dave Kennedy and Nate Burdick. They continued that momentum by capturing last year’s championship.

“We look forward to this tournament all year,” offered Ferriter of the Invitational. “It’s not the one we’ve played in the longest but in the short amount of years, we point to it because of the strength of the field and how well it’s run. And you look at the board and the history of it and who has won it and played in it… look at guys like Dick Murphy (champion in 1976 and 1977), he’s probably the best four-ball player in WMass history. The guys that travel up to play it, it’s always been well-worth the travel.”

Wilson and Ferriter became the first non-local team to win the Invitational since 2008, when teenagers Jake Skole and Dan Fanion accomplished the feat. To capture the 2018 title, they ran quite the gauntlet of competition to get there. The team stopped a string of two consecutive titles for Brodie Conant and Max Major, who they defeated in the quarterfinal round, before knocking off 2017 runners-up, Derek Yvon and Brian Foley, in the semifinals.

“They’re just grinders,” lauded Conant of Wilson and Ferriter. “They never give away holes, which is the key in this format. They play a ton of amateur golf in WMass and they’re good guys.”

Ferriter said this week’s event begins a run of tournaments where he and Wilson will team up five or six times over the next couple of months.

“We play more of our events together starting now,” said Ferriter, a member at The Orchards in South Hadley. “Joe’s had an extremely strong summer. He won the Pewter Cup at Berkshire Hills in June and has played pretty well basically all through the year so hopefully he keeps that going.”

One of the more interesting developments in this week’s tournament features a local team. Conant lost his partner Major, who turned professional, though he didn’t have to go far to find a replacement. That would be Dennis Booska, who has enjoyed his share of success in the event as a five-time winner (1992, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2012).

“When it comes to the Four-Ball, he’s a legend,” offered Conant of Dennis Booska. “We had talked about it a few years back, that we would hook up eventually and play here. It seemed like the right time.

“I think we should be pretty good,” he continued. “We both have a lot of experience, we’ve both won it multiple times. Dennis is someone who is very creative. You kind of need to be with where we are in the stages of our careers. We won’t get rattled much by the pressure. And he’s as good of a putter as there is in the field.”

Ferriter expects the Conant-Booska partnership, which tees off at 10:11 a.m., to play well.

“When you’ve won it before, when you’re in a match you have that extra confidence of when to hit the gas pedal and when par is good enough,” Ferriter said. “Both those guys have multiple titles under their belts so they’re certainly going to be formidable.”

Last year’s runners-up, Cody Booska and Finley (10:19 a.m. tee time), are unquestionably among the favorites in this year’s field. The pair won the title in 2014, and Booska has had a nice summer where he most recently reached the Round of 16 at the Massachusetts Amateur Championship in Brookline. Finley has won the Four-Ball twice, once with each Booska.

“Obviously Cody and KC, I consider them the favorites every year,” Conant said.

Kennedy and Burdick, who tee off at 10:03 a.m., are always a team to watch. The duo has won the title twice as partners (2013, 2015), and they’ve combined for eight championships in total.

“I say it every year but you can never count out Nate Burdick and Dave Kennedy,” offered Conant.

Chris Bourbeau and Garrett Cousineau are always in the mix, and the pair enter this year’s event with 10:51 a.m. tee times on Thursday.

Andy Lesenski and partner Michael Williams are also a team to watch. Lesenski won this event in 2011 with partner Chris Austin, and he also competed in the Mass. Am in Brookline last week.

Same for Jake Willis, who made his Mass. Am debut last week and performed well. Willis and partner Reece McLeod both play at Nichols College, and will look to make their mark as young guns in the Four-Ball field.

Foley has a new partner this year in James Ryan. The Pope Francis hockey coach lost in the finals of the 2017 tournament with partner Derek Yvon, and they followed that up with a semifinal appearance last year.

Lee Craig reached the semifinals of last year’s tournament with partner Bruce White, falling to Finley and Cody Booska. Craig is in the field this year with partner David Koritkoski.

The tandem of Hugh and Jared Barber return after winning the consolation bracket a year ago. Pat McGuire and Aaron Wheeler should be in the mix again, same for perennial contenders Jamie Crocker and Jason Kelton. Paul DeNofrio and Philly Grayson are another team to watch.

After Thursday’s qualifying round, the Round of 16 matches in the Championship Flight will take place on Friday. Quarterfinals and semifinals are slated for Saturday, with an 18-hole championship match set for Sunday.

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