Richard Lord | Tee to Green: Matt Keenan celebrates passing dad's club championship record at Greenock
Greenock Country Club member Matt Keenan started hanging around the golf course at an early age. Now, a quarter-century or so later, Keenan has achieved a goal he set when he first began spending time on the course with his father, Tom Keenan Sr.
"I started playing some when I was 5, 6 or 7 because of my dad, he held the course record and was always the best," Keenan said. "Then, when I was 12, I didn't play All-Stars (baseball) and since then it has been practice and play golf.
Now, at age 31, it's mission accomplished.
Putting together a final-round 2-under 68 over the Labor Day weekend, Matt rallied from a three-shot, 36-hole deficit to overtake young Nate Dos Santos and capture his12th Greenock men's club championship with a 54-hole total of 6-over 216.
His father has captured 11.
"It's always been my goal to pass dad because he was always the best and you try to emulate him," the 31-year-old said.
Dad was not unhappy to see his son overtake him in the win column.
"It's great," said the 61-year-old. "I'm glad to keep it in the family."
Given that Tom Sr. has been a member at the Lee club for about 36 years, the Keenans have now captured an amazing 24 out of the last 36 men's club championships, with Matt's older brother, Tom Jr., having also won once.
"My brother is very talented, but his focus has been on his family, kids and business," Matt said. "If Tom played more golf, I probably wouldn't have won as many as I have."
Or perhaps Matt could have one more win considering it was brother Tom who ended his five-year club championship streak in 2012. Matt followed that up with another five-year streak that was ended last year by recent Lee High standout Thomas Fraser.
After the first two rounds this year, Matt found himself three shots behind Dos Santos entering the third and final round after Dos Santos fired a second-round 69 that included an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole.
"I knew I had to shoot a good score and that I needed to apply pressure on the younger player," Matt said of his approach to the final round. "I managed to get the three shots back on the first three holes."
Matt took the first hole with a par, then he said that he sank a 50-foot putt bomb from the back-right fringe to birdie the par-3 second hole. Dos Santos had to settle for a par and then bogeyed No. 3, while Matt produced a par.
"After that, I just tried to go mistake-free the rest of the way," Matt said.
Another mission accomplished — he finished the round with 16 pars, two birdies and zero bogeys while Dos Santos faded, eventually shooting a 75 to finish second, four shots behind Keenan..
How many more club titles will he win? That, of course, depends on him remaining at the club, remaining motivated, as well as the level of competition at the Donald Ross-designed gem of a nine-hole course.
Dad, meanwhile, had a pretty good September himself, winning two tournaments, including one in which he beat his son.
First, Tom Sr. paired with Berkshire Hills member Jeff Puleri to win Greenock's men's member-guest tournament on the weekend of Sept. 14-15 by 10 shots over Matt and partner Drew Loring. It was the third Greenock member-guest win for Puleri and Tom Sr.
Tom Sr. then paired with Puleri again last weekend to capture the inaugural Berkshire County Fall Classic at Berkshire Hills Country Club by by one shot over Bob Linn and partner Steve Sykes.
Tom Sr. was quick to pass the credit along to the long-hitting Puleri after the win at Berkshire Hills, but his partner was quick to return the praise.
"Jeff played outstanding golf, he was smooth all weekend," Tom Sr. said. "I made my share of pars and helped a little when I had to."
"I really enjoy playing with Tom, he's a grinder," Puleri said. "Whenever you need him he is there. He made some clutch putts for us at the right time."
While the Puleri-Keenan team won easily at Greenock, they needed a pair of birdies on the final two holes by Puleri to pull out the victory over Linn and Sykes.
"On No. 17, Tom got his par and that allowed me to be aggressive on my 15-to-20-foot birdie putt and I rolled it in," he said.
That gave the duo a one-shot edge. Both teams finished with birdies on the par-5 18th hole, giving Puleri and Keenan the victory.
That's a three-month victory for father and son.
The best-ball tournament at Berkshire Hills replaced what had previously been a fall member-guest tournament. Unable to fill that field in recent years, club president Puleri said the club decided to turn it into a best-ball event.
If last week is any indication, the tournament could turn into a smaller, fall version of the Pewter Cup. The tournament attracted a full field of 60 teams (three flights) and attracted golfers from as far away as Cape Cod and also included players from New York.
"I think we attracted a great field for a fall event," Puleri said.
Berkshire Hills Country Club senior standout Bob Linn figured to be a challenger in this past week's Massachusetts Super Senior Championship at Wood's Hole Golf Club in Falmouth. After all, the 65-year-old has been one of the region's best players for years, showing that he can compete against those decades younger than him, and now he had a chance to take on a field where he was the "young" guy.
So, it was no surprise that the 2009 Massachusetts Senior Player of the Year put together a solid second-place finish to give Berkshire Hills golfers their second top-two finish in a state tournament this year. Mark Chylinski and Ralph Dastoli tied for second in the Mass. Senior Four-Ball Championship in May.
"We have a pretty good group of players," Linn said of the Hills' deep roster of low-handicap golfers.
The runner-up finish marked Linn's top individual finish in the Mass. Golf event and tied for his best finish overall.
"I finished third in my first my first (Mass.) Senior Amateur, and when I look back I could have won that one," Linn recalled. "The best I had done was finishing second with Jim Hosey in the Senior Four-Ball."
Given the play of the champion, Plymouth Country Club's Don Foberg, who posted the best scores both days with a 70 and 71 on the par-71 layout to win by seven shots, Linn spent most of the final round in a battle for the runner-up spot.
"Don was in the group ahead of me, so I was able to watch him and it looked like he was in cruise control," Linn said. "He doesn't play in a lot of tournaments but he is a really good player. He won the Senior Hornblower (a major event at Plymouth CC) this year."
Entering the second round tied for fourth place after an opening with a 75, Linn fired a 1-under 34 on the opening nine to move up into a tie with New England Country Club's Jon Fasick for second place.
"The 34 was as bad as the score could have been," Linn said. "I had two putts go right over the hole and I bogeyed the easiest hole on the course (No. 6). I think it played at about 115 yards."
Knowing that he was trailing Foberg by four shots entering the back nine, Linn focused on the battle for second place. He stumbled early, however, going bogey, double bogey on Nos. 10 and 11 and eventually needed a clutch par save on the final hole to edge Fasick.
The poor start on the back marked the second day where he had one costly bad stretch. In his opening round he had three consecutive bogeys on Nos. 7-9.
"I did the same thing in Maine," said Linn, referring to another brief stretch that proved costly in the New England Senior Amateur where he finished in a tie for fourth in the Super Senior Division.
"After nine, I just wanted to hang in there and finish as high as I could," he said of Thursday's final round. "On the last hole, I thought I hit a perfect drive but when I got to my ball it was in a bunker. The best I could do was get two-thirds of the way to the green on my second shot, but then I hit a nice pitch to within 8 feet and made the putt."
Linn, who have himself a "B" grade for his overall performance, has partly planned his tournament schedule based on getting the opportunity to play some of the region's best courses. Wood's Hole lived up to his expectations.
"I loved the course," he said. "I could play there quite a bit, though the weather can make it tough. You have to play the angles and I liked the hills, some of which are very steep. There are several blind shots that are a challenge and while some golfers don't like blind shots, I just trust my distance and swing."
The team of Ken Hodgen and Don Mead combined for a 5-under par 66 to take top honors in the Green Division (older seniors) in Wednesday's Berkshire County Fall Senior Series event at the Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort.
Hodgen and Mead prevailed by two shots over Ron Legere and Tom Reamon and posted the best score of the day in either division.
In the Blue Division, the combination of Scott Colbert and Gary Manarchik won in a match of cards with the team of Pat Cowlin and Al Stalker after both duos carded rounds of 69.
The series is down to its final two events. This week's tournament will be played at Wahconah Country Club on Wednesday while the series finale will be played at the Waubeeka Golf Links on Oct. 16. Golfers need to call the host pro shops in order to enter.
Berkshire County Fall Senior Series
At Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort
1. Scott Colbert and Gary Manarchik, 69. 2. Pete Cowlin and Al Stalker, 69. 3. Keith Dapper and Ralph Dastoli, 70.
1. Tom Fitzgerald and Paul Picarillo, 64. 2. Bill Gates and Mike Cartier, 65. 3. Tom Dubious and John Barry, 65.
1. Ken Hodgen and Don Mead, 66 2. Ron Legere/Tom Reamon, 68. 3. Pat King and Tom Lewis, 69
1. Jim Crews and Roger Prevy, 61. Tom Grannitto and Terry Carty, 62. Dick Rivers and Dick Syriac, 64.
Greenock Country Club
1. Matt Keenan, 216. 2. Nate Dos Santos, 220. 3. John Pultorak, 231.
1. Dave Eisenberg, 159. 2. Bill Porter, 159. 3. Michael Pleu, 161.
1. Gil d'Oliveira, 171. 2. Dick Burns, 171.
1. Karen Williams, 176. 2. Martha Paolucci,181. 2. Judy Olds, 200.
1. Sharon Keenan, 141. 2. Judy Olds, 146. 3. Pam Sandler, 146
1. John Pultorak, 141. 2. Rick Puleri, 142. 3. Christian Delgrande, 145.
1. Dave Eisenberg, 141. 2. Michael Pleu, 141. 3. John Terry, 143
1. Doug Trombly, 137. 2. Monk Puleri, 137. 3. Gil d'Oliveira, 143.
1. Dick Burns, 135. 2. Curt Pressley, 140. 3. Dave VanAlstyne, 148
1. Tom Keenan Sr. and Jeff Puleri, 130. 2.Matt Keenan and Drew Loring, 139. 3. John Pultorak and; Mike Graham, 142.
First Division Division
1. Jim Staszowski and Peter Bacon, 139. 2. Hunter Roosa and Bob Maloney, 147. Jeff and Paul Brown, 148.
1.Keith Kelly ande Todd Briggs, 151. 2. Casey Hickey and Andy Naventi, 151. 3. Mike Simone and Scott Colbert, 154.
1. Bryan and Dave Brown, 148. 2. Earl Barrett and Chet Thomson, 156. 3. Monk Puleri and Cliff Twiss, 158.
1. Austin Consolati and Tim Shepardson, 155. 2. John Chisholm and Mike Snyder, 162. 3. Dennis Mountain and John Mountain, 168.
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