Tee to Green: Andy Congdon wins 11th Stockbridge Invitational title
Congdon partnered with his 37-year-old son Brian to defeat Matt Keenan and Matt Ortega 1-up in an exciting final that included father and son both sinking clutch putts to prevail over a talented team that had ousted defending champions Davis Mullany and Mike Schopp earlier in the 120th edition of the oldest invitational amateur team event in the country.
The 63-year-old Congdon had previously won the event five times with former business partner Marty Salvadore, four times with longtime friend Silas Warner and once with fellow Wyantenuck member Bruce Hull.
While Congdon remains one of the region's top golfers into his 60s, his son doesn't have the time to spend on his golf game that his father does for good reason — Brian is a Lt. Col. in the Air Force who spends much of his time in the cockpit of F-35 fighter jets.
"Brian flew F-15s for 12 years and now he is in the F-35," said the proud dad. "He's the most amazing person I know."
According to its builder, Lockhead Martin, "the F-35 combines fifth generation fighter aircraft characteristics — advanced stealth, integrated avionics, sensor fusion and superior logistics support — with the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history. The F-35's advanced stealth allows pilots to penetrate areas without being detected by radars that legacy fighters cannot evade."
It's no wonder that despite his lack of playing time (his father said the five rounds he played at Stockbridge probably was more rounds than he had played all year), Brian isn't fazed when facing a clutch putt with his team fighting from behind, as was the case on Sunday.
"He's is one heck of a competitor," said Andy Congdon, who estimated that Brian plays to between and eight and 10 handicap. "He seems to rise to the occasion each and every time, whether it's on the golf course or with his family."
After defeating the New York team of Bob Cooper and Mike Gilbert 1-up in the morning semifinals, the Congdons fell behind early in the championship match.
"They got off to a great start," Congdon said. "Matt Keenan birdied the first two holes and we parred the first nine."
Standing on the ninth green, it looked like their early hole might grow deeper.
"Brian made an extremely important 8-foot putt to keep us from going 3 down," Congdon said.
Keenan and Ortega had to settle for bogeys on Nos. 11 and 14, a pair of par-3 holes, as the Congdons evened up the match with a run of 15 consecutive pars.
On the par-4 16th, Brian had an opportunity to put his team ahead for the first time as he faced a 6-foot birdie putt after a beautiful approach shot.
"I had the same exact putt in our morning match and I read it to break left but I missed it," Congdon said. "I told him the putt was straight. He made it and then told me 'dad, I can't tell you how hard it was for me to believe that that putt doesn't break.'"
With the Congdons now 1 up, some major excitement was ahead on the final two holes. On the sharp dogleg right 17th hole, Congdon said both Keenan and Ortega bombed it over the trees, sharply reducing the length of their second shots while Andy took a more conservative route.
"I hit a hard 9-iron from 154 yards to within about 7 feet, but Keenan knocked in a 24-foot putt for birdie," Congdon said. "I made mine so we were still 1-up."
On the dogleg right 18th hole, a 444-yard brute from the back tees, all four golfers managed to make the putting surface in regulation. Once again, a determined Keenan drained a clutch putt of 20-plus feet, but the senior Congdon once again knocked in his shorter putt for the win.
"I can't remember the last time I played in a group when all four golfers hit that green in regulation," Congdon said. "It was thrilling to win with Brian, and especially so because it was a case where everyone in the group played well at the finish. We started with 15 pars and finished with three birdies in a row."
While Brian returns to his job of protecting America, dad will be playing in two events in the next two days. Andy will be in the field at Wahconah Country Club today for the Allied Championship, an event he has also won 11 times, and on Monday he will travel to Southbury, Conn., to try to qualify for the New England Senior Amateur Championship.
Wahconah member Paul Briggs fell short of making the cut at this past week's Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship at Pinehills Country Club's Nicklaus Course in Plymouth.
Briggs shot an 8-over 80 to come up three shots short of advancing to the final round of the Massachusetts Golf Association tournament.
Taking the title was Benjamin Spitz (George Wright Golf Club), who shot a second-round 5-under 67 to finish at 139 to hold off a late rally by Cody Booska (Country Club of Greenfield), who shot a sizzling final-round 65 to fall one shot short.
It was the second consecutive year that Booska has lost in heart-breaking fashion. Last year, he lost in a playoff to Matt Cowgill (Wayland Country Club) when Waubeeka Golf Links in Williamstown hosted the tournament. Cowgill tied for third this time with rounds of 71 and 72.
Attesting to the challenge offered by Waubeeka in 2016 despite its relatively short length (6,342 yards) is the fact that the 139 winning score at Pinehills, a course that played 6,885 yards, was the same as at Waubeeka and actually one shot more under par (Pinehills is a par-72 course, Waubeeka a par-71 layout).
Next year's tournament will head west for the second time in three years when it is played at The Ranch Golf Club in Southwick.
Congratulations to Stockbridge member Jim Mcmenamy, who shot a 9-over 78 at Wyckoff Country Club on Thursday to qualify for the MGA's Super Senior Championship (65-and-over), which will played at Wyantenuck CC in early September.
The other Berkshire County golfers in the qualifying field fell short in their efforts to advance to Wyantenuck. Coming the closest were Wyantenuck's own Peter Kinne and Del Kinney Jr., who both shot 83 to miss advancing by three shots.
The only other county player to qualify was another Stockbridge member, George Fleischner, who advanced in an earlier qualifier held at Brockton Country Club with an 80.
Reach Richard Lord at email@example.com or 413-281-2226.
at Stockbridge Golf Club
Winners: Andy Congdon and Brian Congdon. Runners-up: Matt Ortega and Matt Keenan. Consolation winners: Davis Mullany and Mike Schopp.
Winners: Michael Collins and Kelly Collins. Runners-up Darren Wells and Mark Cox. Consolation winners: Paul Chiampa and Jeff Anderson.
Winners: Joe Grochmal and Lou Obermeier. Runners-up Steve Belter and Adam Hersch. Consolation winners John Hayes and John Malicki.
Winners: Anthony Gleason and Dylan Rickles. Runners-up: Richard Drennan and Tim Farris. Consolation winners: Todd Lepine and Jason Gilboy.
Winners: Marty Salvadore and Todd Salvadore. Runners-up: Dave Lavenberg and Tim Dupuis. Consolation winner Ben Schopp and Mark Tomich.
Winners: Bruce Abbott and Ed Pedruczny. Runners-up: Eugene Kinne and Shawn Kinne. Consolation winners: John Meltaus and Will Hudgins.
Winners Rit Heady and Buddy Riva. Runners-up: Tim Flynn and Doug Dreyer. Consolation winners: Bob Kay and Dave Rathbun.
Brent Dietz and Greg Fisk, 64.
Worthington Golf Club
1. Fred Goerlach, 71. 2. Doug Reed, 72. 3. Scott Martin, 74. 4. Dennis Rabtor, 76. 5. Fred Goelach, 76. 6. Joe Wilston, 77. 7. John Ryan, 77.
1. Nolan Campbell, 65.5. 2. John Ryan, 68.4. 3. Dan Matica, 68.7. 4. Scott Colby, 70. 5. Wally Fritz, 70. 6. Scott Preston, 71.8. 7. Mike Korpita, 73.2.
1. Chris Eugin, 86. 2. Alison Lucey, 87.
1. Deb Goerlach, 74. 2. Liz Kay, 78.2
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