Elkins, Booska miss Mass Amateur cut

Recorder Staff
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Low rounds at Tuesday’s 110th Massachusetts Amateur Golf Championship proved nearly impossible.

In fact, just seven players shot under par on the second day of stroke play, and co-medalists Jackson Lang (Nashawtuc Country Club) and Andrew O’Leary (Pawtucket CC) were two of just five golfers to post red numbers in total after a winning score of 4-under.

The difficult course conditions gobbled up locals Cody Booska and Jonny Elkins, as neither player managed to make the cut into today’s Round of 32 match play portion of the tournament. After the duo shot identical rounds of 73 on Monday, Booska followed up with a 76, and Elkins shot 79 to finish on the outside looking in at George Wright Golf Course in Hyde Park.

Defending champion Matt Parziale posted his second consecutive round of even par 70, comfortably punching his ticket into the match play bracket after tying for sixth place.

Amherst’s Ron Laverdiere, who plays out of Crumpin-Fox Club, followed Monday’s 71 with a 73 on Tuesday to finish in a tie for 24th place. Laverdiere is seeded 26th in today’s match play Round of 32, and he’s set to take on seventh-seeded Sean Fitzpatrick of host George Wright Golf Course at 9:40 a.m.

Booska’s struggles with the putter doomed him again during Tuesday’s round, as he tied for 63rd overall. For the second day in a row, the Country Club of Greenfield product’s ball-striking was solid, but the 22-year-old from Turners Falls wound up with 36 putts to give him a two-round total of 70.

“That’s just not going to get it done,” he admitted of the putting figures. “To be honest, I think I made maybe three putts the whole two days that were outside of three feet. I just couldn’t get the ball to roll end-over-end.”

Booska’s round got off to an inauspicious start, as he hooked his tee shot on No. 1 into the trees and had to punch out. He followed with a good up and down to make bogey, but the putter was unable to find any birdies on the front 9. He dropped a stroke with bogeys on Nos. 5, 8, 9 and 10, and his lone birdie of the day came on No. 16.

“I was playing pretty steady through seven holes,” began Booska, who was 2-over entering No. 8. “Eight and nine were both terrible three-putts on my part. I was just trying to get back all I could, knowing that maybe 5 or 6-over would be the (cut) number, but those three-putts killed me.”

Elkins wound up tied for 83rd place after his 9-over round of 79 gave him a two-day total of 12-over 152. Teeing off No. 10 in one of the first groups out Tuesday morning, Elkins bogeyed his first four holes of the day, including a back-breaking bogey on No. 11. Playing his second hole of the day, his approach hit the bottom of the flag stick and spun off the green.

“A couple of bad breaks probably got the best of me emotionally,” admitted Elkins of the slow start.

The 17-year-old from South Deerfield bounced back with a birdie on 15 and took the turn at 3-over (6-over for the tournament).

“My mindset going into my back 9 was to make one birdie,” he offered, noting that the projected cut line was right around 5-over. “But I burned some edges on a couple putts, three-putted the fourth green. I was up against it by the end of the round and I got pretty aggressive late which usually doesn’t turn out too hot for me.”

After pars on holes 1, 2 and 3, he closed out his round with bogeys on five of the final six holes of his round, including a double-bogey at No. 9, his final hole of the tournament.

“It’s a tough situation when you’re trying to put up a number because at some point, you run out of holes,” he explained. “From holes four through 14, that’s a really, really tough stretch because the greens are firm and fast and the fairways narrow. So there aren’t a ton of birdie holes and my birdie opportunities really narrow.”

Despite missing the match play cut, Elkins, who plays out of Crumpin-Fox Club, said his first Mass Am appearance laid the ground work for what hopefully will be a successful summer on the links.

“It was a tough day but I felt like there were a lot of positives to build on,” he said. “There are so many big-name players here, so to go out and compete with them, put up a first-round number where I was in contention to make the cut, that was a good thing. It’s different for me, coming from junior tournaments where I go out looking for wins. To go out here and try to just make the cut, learning that mindset is pretty big for me. It’s not what I wanted from the week, but it’s definitely respectable.”

Scores fluctuated all over the place in Tuesday’s second round for the field. After shooting an opening-round 67, Oakley Country Club’s Rugo Santini carded an 84 Tuesday and missed the cut. Ken Whalley of Ferncroft Country Club followed a first-round 69 with an 80 on Tuesday and also missed the cut. There were several players in contention for medalist honors after one round that wound up crashing down the leaderboard and failing to reach match play competition.

“A lot of really good players are going to miss the cut,” said Elkins.

Booska and Elkins now shift their focus to Monday’s U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament. The 36-hole event takes place at Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown, where three spots and two alternate slots will be given out for access into the 118th U.S. Amateur Championship set for Aug. 13-19 at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif.

“I hit the ball pretty good but the putter just killed me both days,” said Booska of his Mass Am troubles. “I’ve just got to head to the putting green and work the kinks out. Hopefully I’ll be able to bounce back next week.”