Richard Lord: Finnerty doesn't let a shaky start hurt game
It had been a difficult 27 holes of golf for Stockbridge Golf Club's Matthew Finnerty.
After having his worst competitive round in memory in a U.S. Golf Association's Junior Amateur qualifier on Wednesday, he wobbled to a 5-over 41 on the front nine of Thursday's Massachusetts Junior Amateur qualifier at Nehoiden Golf Club.
The 17-year-old son of senior standout Jim Finnerty knew he needed an immediate attitude adjustment in order to qualify for the Mass. Junior for the second consecutive year.
"In the USGA qualifying, I was playing a course [Thorny Lea] that I hadn't seen before and I wasn't confident," said Finnerty of his round of 92. "I was a little rattled by it and that carried over on the front nine [Thursday]. I told myself before the back nine that I was waiting to make mistakes as opposed to just playing my game. I knew I had to start swinging with more confidence."
Armed with a renewed determination, Finnerty shot a 1-under 35 on the back nine and finished with two birdies in the final three holes to qualify by two shots with a 76.
"I had good up-and-downs on 12, 15 and 17 and made birdies on 16 and 18," Finnerty said.
Thursday's finish was a flashback to last summer when he drained a slippery birdie putt on the final hole at Worthington Golf Club to advance.
"I didn't know where I stood, but I wanted to make that putt, not only to secure a spot but also to give me confidence heading into my next tournament, " Finnerty said.
That next tournament -- an American Junior Golf Association event in Ravenwood, N.Y. -- is a big one for Finnerty, who is looking to impress college coaches as he heads into his senior year at Wellesley High School in suburban Boston. AJGA events attract the nation's best juniors and are highly attended by college golf coaches.
"As far as recruiting goes, this is the biggest event of the year for me," said Finnerty, who spends his summers in the Berkshires and at Stockbridge GC.
Finnerty is heading to upstate New York with a positive outlook.
"I just have to be confident and trust my swing," he said. "I think I'm due for a breakout performance."
Finnerty is making up for lost time after spending the spring playing on his high school lacrosse team, which advanced to the state quarterfinals before being eliminated.
"That was a really fun experience," he said. "It obviously was tough coming in the spring as far as my golf was concerned. I'm just starting to catch up, but I don't regret playing."
The Allied Senior Championship will be played Monday at Stockbridge GC with a field of 84 players trying to end Andy Congdon's three-year reign as champion.
With the Wyantenuck Country Club member's dominant Allied record, it's obvious he loves winning. But last year's victory may be one he wouldn't mind giving back.
Before he made it to the clubhouse, the leader was Skyline's Dick Rivers, then 71, who broke his age by two shots in arguably the round of his senior golf life and was about to be become an improbable champion.
"That's one where I wish I had been second," Congdon said. "What Dick did was absolutely fantastic."
Of course, that doesn't mean Congdon won't be trying to win another Allied event (he's won the Allied Championship nine times, captured team titles with his brother, Richie, and won the father-and-son title both with his father and his son Brian).
"Since I was a young boy, the Allied has meant everything to me, " said the 2011 Massachusetts Senior Player of the Year. "The times I won with my dad and seeing my son [Brian] play well enough for us to win, those mean the most to me."
Among those reedy to give Congdon a run for his money are his brother, who finished third last year, along with Taconic Golf Club's Gary Wood and the Berkshire Hills CC trio of Ralph Dastoli, Fred Goerlach and Rick Pellegrini, who was in the hunt last year. And, of course, as Rivers showed last year, there are others who could save their round of a lifetime for Monday.
The field will tee off with a shotgun start at 8:15 a.m.
The Berkshires and Allied courses will be well-represented in Tuesday's Massachusetts Amateur Public Links qualifying tournament at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield.
Reigning Western Mass. Amateur champion James Patterson of Worthington GC leads a strong group that includes Chad Alibozek (Forest Park CC), Aaron Klimchuk and Paul Briggs (Wahconah CC), Ray Bergmann (Waubeeka GL) and Matt Freitag (Taconic GC).
Could you imagine the attention going into next month's British Open if the same player had won the year's first two majors? Well, don't look now, but under the golf radar of most, Inbee Park is zeroing in on her third consecutive major win of 2013 on the LPGA Tour.
Park, 24, a native of South Korea who has been in the United States since age 12, captured the Kraft Nabisco and LPGA Championships, and is in striking position to win her third at this weekend U.S. Women's Open.
Just a little more than a year since Yani Tseng looked like the next Annika Sorenstam, it is now Park who is the women's game's dominant force, while Tseng has drifted back to No. 7 in the world rankings.
Park won the U.S. Women's Open in 2008 at age 19, but then went four years without a victory. Now, she has won seven of her last 27 tournaments including three majors.
Only the legendary Babe Zaharias, in 1950, has won the tour's first three majors previously while Hall of Famers Patty Berg, Mickey Wright, Pat Bradley and Sorenstam have won three majors in a season.
As someone who has great respect for the LPGA Tour, its history and current high talent level, I hope she completes the feat and heads to the Women's British Open looking for No. 4.
To contact Richard Lord:
or (413) 496-6236
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