Golf notebook: Cheryl Krueger enjoying successful summer run

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Make it three wins in less than a month for Cheryl Krueger.

Fresh off victories in women's club championships at The Orchards in South Hadley and Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown, she teamed with Barb Hecimovich (Beverly Golf & Tennis Club) to win Mass Golf's Curtis Bowl Scotch tournament at Sharon Country Club a week ago Monday.

Krueger and Hecimovich, who was a substitute partner when Cheryl's couldn't make it, shot a 5-over par 77 in the challenging format (partners hit off alternate tees and then the partners play alternate shot into the hole) to win by a comfortable five shots.

The Curtis Bowl, which dates back to 1956, is open to any woman who has a MassGolf/GHIN handicap index of up to 54. It is listed by Mass Golf as a "tournament" not a "championship."

"The 'championships' are medal play, played on longer courses and are for higher-caliber players," Krueger explained. "The 'tournaments' are mostly one-day partner events. They are not as competitive, but it's still fun and a challenge."

Make no mistake, the Scotch format can lead to some ugly results. Partners often feel extra pressure, knowing they don't want to put their partner in a bad spot or miss a key putt after being put in a prime spot for a birdie.

Apparently, despite their lack of experience playing together, the stress level wasn't too high. They made two birdies on the front nine to turn in 36 and finished with just one three-putt green and one double bogey.

Due to COVID-19 rules, one player keeps score electronically as the round progresses. That was Heimovich's job, and she kept the scores to herself until the victory was secured.

"I had no idea where we stood when we finished," Krueger said. "I thought we had played pretty well, so I said to Barb 'well, we were representative,' and she says, "representative? We won!"

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The duo had a previous strong showing in a best-ball event, the Eleanor I Labonte Four-Ball. That time Krueger was the substitute when Hecimovich's partner couldn't tee it up. So, this appears to be a good match of skills and temperament.

"We enjoyed it, I think we will play more together," said Krueger, though that could be a challenge considering they live on opposite sides of the state.

"We're both very even-tempered," Hecimovich said. "We don't get too excited or too down, we just keep plugging."

Meanwhile, Krueger's busy schedule continued last week in Mass Golf's Women's Stroke Play Championship for the Baker Cup at The Club at New Seabury on Cape Cod, a tournament that goes in the previously mentioned category of "championship."

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It turned out to be a battle between 2018 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champion Shannon Johnson and recent Merrimack College graduate Krystal Knight. Johnson shot rounds of 70 and 71 to finish at 1-under 141, a single shot ahead of Knight, who had a pair of 71s.

Krueger, meanwhile, finished in a tied for 20th in the 36-player Championship Flight with rounds of 81 and 89. Coincidentally, she finished tied with her Curtis Bowl partner.

"It was a real challenge," said the 58-year-old Krueger. "They had the course at 6,000 yards, but it was sopping wet and played more like it was 6,500 or 7,000 yards. For me, that's almost too long."

***

The Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship tees off Tuesday at Great Horse in Hampden with five members of Allied Association clubs in a field that is loaded with talent.

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The area hopefuls include two members at the Country Club of Pittsfield, Josh Shepard and Adam Brickle, along with Wyantenuck Country Club's Davis Mullany, Wahconah Country Club's Paul Briggs and the Links at Worthington's Jim Patterson.

Picking tournament winners, be it at the local, regional or national level, is a fool-hardy exercise, but sometimes — like right now with Dustin Johnson on the PGA Tour — it's obvious who the favorite should be. This week at Great Horse is also one of those times and, no, we're not talking about Matt Parziale, the Mass Golf Player of the Year for four consecutive years.

Off recent play and considering he captured last year's Mass. Mid-Am by a ridiculous 15 shots, it's actually Bradford Country Club's Nick Maccario, who earned widespread notice recently when he shot a unthinkable 15-under-par 56 at his home course.

Prior to his 11-birdie, two-eagle masterpiece on the 6,147-yard course in Haverhill, Maccario had finished as the runner-up in the Massachusetts Amateur, New England Amateur and Ouimet Memorial this summer before capturing the prestigious Hornblower Memorial at Plymouth County Club.

Of course, that won't matter once play begins Tuesday morning, considering he'll be facing the state's best age 25-and-over amateurs including Brockton's Parziale, who won the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in 2017, and amateur legend Frank Vana Jr., who has won the tournament 10 times, most recently in 2018.

All five area players advanced in qualifiers, Mullany at Cape Cod Country Club, and the other four at Westover Golf Course. Mullany, who has a resume that includes playing in the 2011 U.S. Amateur, finished second with an impressive 2-under 68, to earn his spot.

Of the other qualifiers, Shepard tied for third with a 1-over 73 at Westover while Patterson and Brickle fired 74s to tie for seventh and Briggs had a 75 to tie for 13th. Brickle may have an advantage in course knowledge, having played out of the club recently..

The Brian Silva-designed course is expected to play between 6,800 and 7,000 yards — it measures more than 7,600 yards from the tips — and the field in the 54-hole tournament will be cut to the low 30 and ties (or anyone within five shots of the lead) after Wednesday's second round.

Richard Lord can be reached at relord633@gmail.com.


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