Monday, July 26, 2010

Thoughts on the Tommy Keane

Welcome to the 2010 Tommy Keane blog. If you have special memories of the Tommy Keane Invitational or thoughts about the tournament – this year's or any other – just click on the "comments" tab below and share them with others. You can even leave 'em anonymously.

It would be fun to hear what you have to say about this annual rite of summer!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

TKI Photos

Shane MacDonald looks on as son Nick hits his tee ball. (Click photos to enlarge.)Joe King hits out of trouble.
Pat Pelletier and the gallery watch the flight of his ball.

Nick MacDonald watches father Shane's putt.
Nick MacDonald lines up a putt.
Pat Pelletier sends his tee shot toward the green.
Joe King's putt looks good.

Old MacDonald Had a Son ...

HANOVER – Watching his dad play in the Tommy Keane Invitational at Hanover Country Club was fun for Nick MacDonald when he was a boy, but the most fun might have been the chance to climb behind the wheel and drive the golf cart.

Except that one time.

“My dad told me to follow Ned and Ned was zig-zagging down the fairway,” the younger MacDonald remembered yesterday with a laugh. “The cooler went flying out, ice fell out on the fairway and everything went everywhere.

“My dad yelled, ‘Nick, what are you doing?’

“I said, ‘You told me to follow Ned.’ "

If you know Nick’s dad Shane you know that the cooler is not something you want to trifle with during the TKI. Better to yank a steak out of a Doberman's mouth.

But not to worry. Nick made it up to his old man on Sunday.

The newly crowned New Hampshire Amateur champion and former University of Hartford standout made birdie on 3, 5 and 6 to help the team of MacDonald and MacDonald go a very healthy 5-up through 12 holes. He added another birdie putt on 15 to clinch a 4&3 win over former Lebanon High School teammate Pat Pelletier and Joe King.

The championship is the second in a row – and third overall – for Shane MacDonald. But it is the first with his son after longtime (and long distance) partner Andy Hydorn couldn’t make it to Hanover this year.

“Winning with Nick was excellent,” said MacDonald. “He’s obviously a very good player. It’s easy and fun to play with him. It’s enjoyable.”

For MacDonald père the most enjoyable hole of the championship match came early. He hit a 5-iron to 20 feet on the second hole and proceeded to knock down a 20-foot, left-to-right putt for the birdie that gave his team a lead it would not relinquish.

“He didn’t make many birdies this week but that was a big one to get us 1-up early,” said NIck. “You always want to be the first one to get up in match play. I think that was probably the best stroke he made all week.”

A 20-foot birdie putt by King on 3 offset the younger MacDonald’s birdie on the hole but the eventual winners soon added to their lead on a hole that had been a problem for Nick throughout the tournament.

“I hadn’t hit a good shot on five all week,” he said. “I’d hit the green but hadn’t had a good shot at the pin. This time it flew right over the pin and back to like 8 feet, left to right.”

With his father making par, Nick was free to make a run at the cup and nailed the putt to put his team 2-up.

After making birdie on a hole he has struggled with the son added another on a hole that has been much kinder to him.

“On six I hit a 3-iron off the tee and then a gap wedge,” he said. “That’s my hole. I birdie it a lot. I got up there and it was only about 10 feet and dead straight. That got us 3-up.”

When Pelletier and King both went out of bounds on 10, the lead had swelled to four holes. A par on 12 stretched the advantage to five holes before Pelletier rolled the dice one hole later.

“We were 5 down on 13 but it’s a drivable hole,” he said. “I decided we had nothing to lose at that point. I was going to go for an eagle or hit a bad one. I put it on the green, two-putted for birdie and Nick missed.”

Pelletier then won the second hole in a row to close the gap to three with four to play. “Nick three-putted and I had a wicked-tough up-and-down. I actually got up and down from somewhere I might never do it again.”

But just when Pelletier and King came alive Nick MacDonald ended the match. It’s one thing to be good, another to be luck. Nick was both on the 15th, what would be the final hole.

“I got a break off the tee,” he said. “Three rounds this week I hit it in the same spot. A couple of inches into the hazard. I punched a 7-iron out, had about 60 yards and flipped a lob wedge to like 5 feet. Pat was in front of me so I knew if I hit a good shot it would put the pressure on him a little bit and make his shot a little bit tougher. I hit that one in there and made then birdie, which was a good way to finish.”

All Pelletier could do when it was over was offer a tip of the cap.

“It’s not like we were playing bad,” he said. “I had like nine birdie putts on the first nine holes. They weren’t close but I hit it good.

“They played well. It wasn’t like they hit bad and beat us. At least we lost to someone who deserved it.”

The big question at the end of the day was who back-to-back champion Shane MacDonald would play with in next year’s Tommy Keane. Would he reunite with Hydorn, his partner for more than a decade? Or would he team up again with his son?

If he has his way, it might be neither.

“If Andy can make it, I think Andy and Nick playing together would be a natural,” he said. “Those two guys playing together would be untouchable, I’d guess. It doesn’t always work that way but it would be fun to see what happened.

“Me?” he said. “I’d find someone else to play with.”

Only one thing is certain. He’ll be back.

And so will Pelletier.

“I love this tournament,” he said. “I have a little brother who is 8 and if he could play I’d play with him. You can’t ask for a better tournament with a better group of guys. I look forward to this every year.”

DIVOTS The team of Paolo and Antonio Bentivoglio won the first flight with Roger and Tag Demment capturing the second and Robert and Jonathan Wortmann the third.

Final Brackets

(Click brackets to enlarge)

MacDonald's Take Title

The father-son team of Shane and Nick MacDonald bolted out to a five-hole lead over the team of Pat Pelletier and Joe King before claiming the title with a birdie on the 15th hole. Brackets will be posted shortly with a story to follow.