Sunday July 7, 2013

Wahconah Country Club member Aaron Klimchuk entered last week's Massachusetts Public Links qualifier at Tekoa Country Club in a good frame of mind and it paid dividends. Klimchuk shot an even-par 71 at the Westfield course to tie for medalist honors with Elmcrest Country Club's Tyler Cudnik and earn one of nine spots available.

Also punching his ticket to the main event Aug. 5-6 at Glen Ellen Country Club in Millis was Williams College senior Dylan Dethier, who earned the final spot with a 7-over 78.

"I was very relaxed," Klimchuk said. "I knew I was playing well and that I was capable of qualifying. I knew that even par would make it. The course was relatively flat, so I felt there was no reason for me to be over par."

Klimchuk, who is entering his senior year at Denison College in Ohio where he captains the school's Division III golf team, shot a 1-over 37 on the front nine and played the back in 1-under 34. His round was highlighted by consecutive birdies on the par-5 14th hole and par-4 15th. He was 1-under before he bogeyed the final hole, a demanding 231-yard par 3.

Klimchuk hails from Westchester County, N.Y., but his parents bought a summer home in the Berkshires eight years ago, a decision that has been a plus for their son.

"I spend my summers up here," said Klimchuk, who turns 21 next month. "The courses are great. At home, most of the courses are private and the public courses are dog tracks. When I'm there, I mostly just practice at the public courses.


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Up here, the key is to play. I can come out to Wahconah any time I want and everyone knows me. It's a great spot."

Blessed with a 6-foot-2 frame, Klimchuk says he hits the ball "a long ways."

"I really only hit driver on the par 5s and some long par 4s. I hit my 3-wood 280 yards."

The public links will be his first chance to compete in one of the Massachusetts Golf Association's major events and it sounds as though he plans on approaching it the same way he did the qualifier.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I'm just going to go there looking to have fun. I usually play well when I do that."

Meanwhile, this will be Dethier's second trip to the MGA championship. He qualified in 2011, finishing well back in the pack with two rounds of 79. The Mount Greylock Regional High School graduate, who will be a senior in Williamstown this year, squeaked in despite making no birdies, an unusual circumstance for a golfer known for his aggressive style of play.

Two other Berkshire County players -- Paul Briggs and Chad Alibozek -- put themselves in position to qualify at the turn, but came up short. Briggs, a Wahconah member, missed by a single shot with nines of 39-40.

Recent Hoosac Valley High School graduate Alibozek also had an opening 39, but he made a nine on the par-5 12th hole and a triple bogey on 18 to finish with a disappointing 83.

Worthington Golf Club's James Patterson, who will be in the field at this week's Massachusetts Amateur, had an 80 to miss by two shots. Matt Freitag, a teammate of Alibozek's in high school, shot an 87 and Waubeeka Golf Links member Ray Bergmann finished with a 91.

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Speaking of Dethier, the golfer-author's book, "18 in America", continues to climb on the Amazon.com’s most popular golf books list. In the less than two months it has been available, it has climbed all the way to No. 4.

Two of the three books ahead of Dethier's tale of his 48-state golfing quest and coming-of-age trip, are among the most revered golf books ever written -- Ben Hogan's "Five Lessons" and Harvey Penick's "Little Red Book."

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The Berkshire County Junior Series starts its six-week run on Monday at Pontoosuc Lake Country Club in Pittsfield. Play will begin with a 9 a.m. shotgun start.

The second tournament will be played at Forest Park Country Club in Adams on Monday, July 15. The events are open to children ages 11-18 who are members of Allied-affilated courses and the cost is just $10 and includes lunch. Golfers should sign up at their home clubs by Friday of the week preceding the tournaments.

To contact Richard Lord:
rlord@berkshireeagle.com
or (413) 496-6236