Photo Gallery | MGA Amateur Championship at Taconic Golf Course
WILLIAMSTOWN — When Bob Linn's alarm clock went off Monday morning, he didn't know if would be playing in the Massachusetts Amateur Championship. By noon, Linn was in the middle of the pack.
The Enfield, Conn., resident — who plays out of Berkshire Hills Country Club in Pittsfield, shot a 4-over-par 75 in the first round of the 108th annual tournament, held at Taconic Golf Club.
"About 7:25 this morning," the 62-year old Linn said when asked when he knew he was going to play in the first round. "I literally walked out of the parking lot, and I heard them call somebody's name, so I figured somebody wasn't here."
Linn replaced Waubeeka's Taylor Bellemare in the first group of the day that went off from the 10th tee. Linn was one of three golfers with ties to Berkshire County courses who played in Monday's first round. Chad Alibozek of Forest Park Country Club was in the last threesome of the day.
The second day of stroke play will begin at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. The top 32 finishers will begin match play on Wednesday. The two finalists will play 36 holes on Friday.
Linn had the best round of the day among the Berkshire County contingent with his 75. Jake Mahoney of Newton, who is a member at Greenock Country Club, shot an 8-over 79. Alibozek finished the day at 11-over 82, which included a 9 on the par-5 10th hole.
"It was tough to control my nerves at the beginning," said Alibozek. "I wish my game was a little better in spots, but I was trying to find things right off the bat.
"As you saw on that first hole, I hacked it up pretty good"
In between, Taconic yielded a record-setting round. Jake Shuman of Needham shot 7-under-par 64, smashing the course record at Taconic previously held by Bill Hadden (67). Shuman, a Duke University golfer who plays out of Blue Hill Country Club in Canton, had a bogey-free round. He had three birdies on the front nine and had four birdies on the back, including a birdie on the par-5 18th hole.
Peter French, who was in the same group with Shuman, finished the day in second place. French shot a 3-under 68. Matthew Naumec, a graduate of Wilbraham & Monson who just finished his freshman season at Boston College, was third with a 2-under 69.
"I snap hooked my first tee shot. But I was OK," said Shuman. "I two-putted and settled for a birdie."
Shuman, French and Patrick Frodigh, friends from Eastern Mass., were in the same group. Frodigh shot even-par 71.
"I was three under at the turn, Pete was three and Pat was two," said Shuman. "It never felt like I was playing great. We were all just right there. We were having fun just chasing each other and seeing who could shoot the best score."
Alibozek, the former county high school MVP, hit his tee shot into the trees to the left of the fairway on the 10th hole. By the time Alibozek had made a putt, he had a nine on the par-5 hole. Things got somewhat better, but Alibozek couldn't notch a birdie on his front nine. He did have three bogeys and made the turn at 7-over 43.
"I came back and rebounded. The finish was rough, but in the middle, I had something going," said Alibozek.
Frank Vana Jr. of Marlborough Country Club, who won the Mass. Amateur when Taconic hosted back in 2004, was 10 strokes behind the leader after shooting a 3-over 74.
Linn, 62, said that getting into the tournament as he did actually turned out to be helpful. It did not give him that much time to ruminate about playing Taconic and getting into the 144-golfer field.
"Probably easier, because you get out there and just go," said Linn. "There's not that hour or so where you're kind of thinking how you're going to do. Hopefully, you're going to do all right.
"There are a lot of kids in this field. They're outdriving me by 50 yards."
Linn's round started inauspiciously with a bogey on the par-5 10th hole. But he righted the ship with two pars and a birdie before playing nine in 2-over 38. He also played his back, but the front nine in 2-over fashion. Linn closed out his day with a birdie on the par-3 ninth hole.
Mahoney, who played at Newton North High School and Elon University, earned his way here by finishing second in the qualifier at the Country Club of Pittsfield.
"I started off with a couple of pars, but then I made a triple bogey," said Mahoney. "I kind of had to battle back from there, but I held it together for a decent score."
Day One Top Finishers
1. Jake Shuman 64; 2. Peter French 68; 3. (tie) Matthew Naumec, Benedict Hoeller 69; 5. (tie) Zach Camarra, Alex Jeffers, Alex Jamieson, Sam Riemer, Brendan Hunter, Andrew Warfield, John Hadges, Matt Cowgill 70; 13. (tie) Ryan Riley, Mark Turner, Patrick Frodigh, Dan Cappucci, Thomas Henderson 71; 18. (tie) John McNeill, Jackson Lang, Kevin Gately, Patrick O'Leary, Matt Perry, Brian Sears, Benjamin Spitz 72.
Berkshire County golfers — 42. (tie) Bob Linn, Berkshire Hills 75; 97. (tie) Jake Mahoney, Greenock 79; 123. (tie) Chad Alibozek, Forest Park 82.
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.