Photo Gallery | Photos from 2014 Mass. Amateur qualifier in Stockbridge
STOCKBRIDGE -- Paralysis from analysis. At some point it afflicts almost every golfer, even the pros.
Too many tips lead to too many swing thoughts, and suddenly a sound golf swing is filled with faults. It happened to Pittsfield native Donnie Troy during his professional golf career.
"I started making swing changes close to the time I started my pro career," Troy said. "I drank the Kool-Aid. I made so many changes that I slumped the whole time."
On Wednesday, his mind cleared of conflicting thoughts, the 28-year-old successfully qualified for the Massachusetts Amateur Championship in his first competition since regaining his amateur status this winter.
"My game has been pretty good for the last year-and-a-half," said Troy, who earned one of the last two spots up for grabs in the qualifying tournament at Stockbridge Golf Club with a 4-over-par 75. "I haven't been thinking about my swing. I'm just playing golf and I've been hitting it well."
Troy was one of 10 golfers -- the top eight and ties -- to grab a spot in this year's Mass. Amateur at Kernwood Country Club in Salem on July 14-18. Twin Hills Country Club's John Kelly Jr., Salem Country Club's Brandon Neals, Amherst Golf Club's Jesse Morgan and Springfield Country Club's Derek Yvon tied for medalist honors with even-par 71s over the 6,655-yard layout.
For East Longmeadow's Kelly, it was the second big performance in the Berkshires in less than a week. The 25-year-old teamed with Bobby McDonald to win the Pewter Cup at Berkshire Hills Country Club on Sunday.
Troy was the only local player to qualify while three others -- Berkshire Hills' Hayden Jarck, Forest Park Country Club's Chad Alibozek and Worthington Golf Club's James Patterson -- missed by one agonizing shot. Former Berkshire Hills Club champion Bob Linn and Wahconah Country Club's Paul Briggs missed by two.
Despite playing only once or twice a week as he builds a new merchant services business in Orlando where he lives (he still spends several months a year in Pittsfield), Troy started with nine consecutive pars. The Country Club of Pittsfield member made bogeys on three of the next six holes before his hopes almost ended with a double-bogey six on No. 16 after an errant drive.
"We used a back tee box [next to the pro shop] that I hadn't planned for," he said. "I decided to hit driver and didn't commit to the shot."
He followed up the mistake on 16 with a bold tee shot on the dogleg-right 17th that wasn't.
"I thought I needed two birdies, so I drove it over the trees and I was only 115 yards from the pin," he said. "I hit my second shot to the back fringe and chipped in."
He finished with a par and that was enough. Now he's excited to return to a tournament that he is familiar with.
"It feels great. I qualified in 2006 and made it to the quarterfinals," Troy said. "That was my best summer. I also qualified for the U.S. Amateur."
Meanwhile, despite falling short, Wednesday was a step forward for Jarck after a bad day at a Mass. Open qualifier at Wahconah Country Club in May.
"I thought that I played all right," said the 20-year-old. "With the humidity and wind, the ball was really flying and I hit some shots over the back of greens."
Alibozek, home from Keiser University in Port St. Lucie, Fla., showcased improved power from his days as an All-Eagle MVP, bombing some drives more than 300 yards and hitting just a 7-iron on the 219-yard 14th hole where he made a birdie. He followed that birdie with another on the par-4 15th, but then had a double bogey and bogey on the next two holes that ended his hopes.
"I'm really starting to play well, but I hit a terrible shot [on 16] and caught a flyer and blocked the [second] shot right," Alibozek said.
Patterson was done in by a pair of double bogeys, on the fifth and 16th holes.
"My ball striking was good, but I didn't get up-and-down once," he said. "On No. 5, I flew the green on my second shot, and on No. 16, I had two terrible lies."
Of those who came close, Linn may have the best reason to be frustrated. He played holes 6-8 in 6 over and the other 15 in even par.
To contact Richard Lord:
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