Andy Congdon earns medalist honors in Mass. Amateur golf qualifier at Wyantenuck
GREAT BARRINGTON -- It was a different script, but a familiar outcome for Andy Congdon in Monday's Massachusetts Amateur Championship qualifying tournament at Wyantenuck Country Club.
Playing on his home course where he has been dominant, the 58-year-old rode his putting -- not his usual precise ball-striking -- to take medalist honors and earn a ticket to next month's Mass. Amateur at Longmeadow Country Club.
Congdon's 1-over-par 71 was one shot better than 55-year-old Jack Kearney of Elmcrest Country Club, giving the over-50 set a one-two finish. Paul Nunez and Chris Ferriter of Ludlow Country Club tied with Kevin Wheeler of St. Anne Country Club for third at 73.
Three other Allied course members -- Worthington Golf Club's James Patterson (74), Hayden Jarck (75) of the Country Club of Pittsfield and Taconic Golf Club's William Hadden (75) -- qualified for Longmeadow. Fifteen golfers (the top nine and ties) advanced.
Most of the time, Congdon points to his driving and iron play as the keys to a high finish or win, not his putter. That changed Monday.
"I didn't hit it very well, but I putted really well," Congdon said. "That's as good as I have putted in a quite a while and as poorly as I have hit it."
Congdon, who recently captured the South Carolina Senior Amateur Championship, turned in 2-under 33 with four birdies and two bogeys. He then made pars on holes 10-13 to put himself in position to earn medalist honors despite a double bogey on No. 15 and a bogey on 17.
"I made four nice putts on the front nine and two good par-save putts on 13 and 14," Congdon said. "I hit a poor wedge and bad chip shot on 15 and drove it into the rough on No. 17. ... I hate to limp in like that."
While his career-highlight win in South Carolina was a confidence builder, it didn't serve as a blueprint for Monday's round.
"It was the opposite of today," sounding a more familiar Congdon refrain. "I hit it very, very well in South Carolina for three days but I putted poorly."
Meanwhile, while it wasn't a "home game" for Kearney and Patterson, but both pointed to Wyantenuck as a source of inspiration.
"I really like this golf course and I love coming to the Berkshires," said Kearney, who played in the Mass Amateur when it was held at Wyantenuck in 2011.
"This is my favorite course in the Berkshires," said Patterson, who overcame an up-and-down front nine with an even-par 35 on the back that included a couple of clutch par saves on 17 and 18. "It was a great opportunity to get to try and qualify here and play close to home [at Longmeadow]."
Patterson, 45, a runner-up behind Andy Drohen in last year's Western Mass. Amateur, made his presence known in the Berkshires with a runner-up finish behind Congdon in the Allied Championship in August. Patterson lives in Southampton but does a lot of business as a heating and cooling contractor in the Berkshires, He joined Worthington in order to be eligible to played in Allied events.
The 18-year-old Jarck was coming off disappointing performance in a U.S. Open local qualifier and a Mass. Open qualifier at the CC of Pittsfield, but had worked hard to find his game since.
"I met with [Wyantenuck head professional] Tom Sullivan a couple of times and put my nose to the grindstone and hit balls, balls, balls," Jarck said. "Tom's help and the practice definitely gave me more confidence."
Other than a double bogey on the par-4 16th hole, Jarck said he played "a nice tidy round."
"I hit a lot of greens in regulation. I had a lot of 15- and 20-foot birdie putts, but they weren't dropping."
Taconic's Hadden had nines of 39-36 with two birdies and five bogeys.
Several other Berkshire County players came oh-so-close. Wyantenuck members Richie Congdon, Andy's brother, and Davis Mullany both missed by one shot. Mullany, who reached the round of 16 in the 2011 Mass. Am, has played very little golf over the past year because of post-graduate school work.
"I made a lot of silly mistakes. I was too rusty," said Mullany, who made a bogey on No. 18. "I'm kicking myself now."
Wyantenuck's Brian Cunningham, Adam Trivilino and Del Kinney Jr. along with Stockbridge Golf Club's Randy Driscoll missed the qualifying cut by two shots.
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