Monday, July 27, 2015

Scenes From Championship Flight Final Match

Click the photos to enlarge them.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

MacDonalds Jump Out Early And Stave Off Choukas-Hayes

It's handshakes all around after the final putt on 17. (More photos tomorrow. Click to enlarge.)
HANOVER – Peering over a cliff at the distant Union Pacific Railroad posse they couldn’t shake, a disbelieving Butch Cassidy asks the Sundance Kid in their eponymous Western, Who are those guys?

When Nick and Shane MacDonald galloped out to a huge early lead and then had trouble shaking their pursuers in Sunday’s Tommy Keane Invitational championship match, they might have wondered, as Butch did, “Who are those guys?”

Except they knew exactly who was on their trail.

Trying to catch them were former Hanover High School teammates Nate Choukas and Benny Hayes.

Choukas, a rising sophomore golfer at Trinity, and Hayes, a junior golfer at the University of Puget Sound, had survived a 22-hole marathon to win their morning semifinal over fellow collegians Zach Temple and Mak Lyford.

And even after falling four holes down through five they showed no signs of backing down against the battle-tested MacDonalds.

“They are very good players and real good kids,” said Shane MacDonald after the father-son team outlasted Jake Obar and Billy Vielleux in 19 holes in their morning semifinal and then clinched a second Keane title in a row with a birdie on 17 in their afternoon match with Choukas and Hayes. “I think they were nervous at the start and made a couple of bogeys they wouldn’t normally make and that gave us a little advantage.

“Those early bogeys ended up being the difference but they kept on coming.”

And they did keep coming.

“We gave it our all in our first match and we needed our all again against the MacDonalds,” said Hayes. “We gave it our best but we never played well all week on that stretch of holes from one-to-five. We tried to fight back and made some birdies but it’s tough to beat them when you fall behind and Nick is 5- or 6-under.”

Already down three, Hayes and Choukas hit errant tee balls on No. 5 to lose the hole with a bogey. At that point it was clear to everyone including the large rolling gallery following the match that it would be a short afternoon on the course if they fell any further back.

They didn’t.

Choukas promptly drained a clutch birdie putt on six to shrink the deficit back to three.

“I think they were a little nervous early,” said Nick MacDonald. “They settled down after the fifth hole and got things together.”

A Nick MacDonald birdie on nine built the lead back to four but once again the young challengers responded, this time with a Choukas birdie putt on 11.

When Nick MacDonald hit the flagstick with his tee ball on the uphill 14th to set up an easy birdie Choukas stepped up with still another clutch putt of his own to halve another hole his team could ill afford to lose.

Their hats off in anticipation of a congratulatory handshake on the 15th green, Hayes and Choukas caught a break and dodged the proverbial bullet when Nick MacDonald’s short birdie attempt rimmed out and they halved the hole.

Backs still against the wall, Choukas and Hayes stayed alive when Hayes rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt to win 16 and stretch the match to 17.

But that’s where the chase came to a close as Nick MacDonald’s length and bunker shot to four feet led to a birdie that finally ended the match at 3&1.

The championship was the third for the MacDonalds together, the fourth overall for Nick, and the fifth for his dad.

“You know they are comfortable out there,” said Choukas. “There’s no nerve factor. You know Nick is going to pretty much step up and hit it 30 yards by you, right in the middle of the fairway. Every time. You just have to expect that and hope that you roll in a birdie putt on him and sometimes he doesn’t.”

If there was a nerve factor for Choukas and Hayes, it disappeared for good before the turn.
“It’s just that they haven’t been there before,” said Shane MacDonald. “Now they’ve seen it and felt it. They’ll be back.”

“Definitely,” said Choukas.

“That’s the plan,” said Hayes, who is taking classes this summer and flew back from the Pacific Northwest in part to play in the Keane.

Unfortunately for the rest of the field, the MacDonalds will be back again next  year – and for the foreseeable future.

“I’ll keep playing as long as Nick will have me,” said Shane with his trademark laugh before sharing the MacDonald gameplan for TKI success.

“I make sure Nick is in a good mood,” he joked. “That’s how I do it. We make a good team and don’t disagree about anything. When he asks me (about a putt) I just agree with him.

“The only thing we disagreed on this weekend was whether to get Chinese food or pizza last night.”

Final Brackets

Final brackets. Click to enlarge.

MacDonalds Repeat

Nick and Shane MacDonald jumped out to an early four-hole lead and went on to a 3&1 win over Benny Hayes and Nate Choukas to win the 40th Tommy Keane Invitational. Story, scores and pictures tonight.

Choukas-Hayes Join MacDonalds In Championship Final

It took a 10-foot Benny Hayes birdie on the 22nd hole for the team of Hayes and Nate Choukas to clinch a berth in the TKI final against the MacDonald's. Both Mak Lyford and Zach Temple had birdie putts with a good chance to go in but neither found the bottom of the cup.

In the only other match not decided earlier, Jim Keane and Kevin Sullivan advanced in the third flight.

The weather is holding and there will be full details after the championship match.

12:30 Sunday Update

Choukas-Hayes/Temple-Lyford on 19th hole deciding who will play MacDonalds in Championship Flight Final.

Sunday Morning Shower

It might actually be more of a drool coming down right now. Yuck.

The forecast is a little dicey but time will tell.

Check back at noon for updates on the morning matches. After that I'll be out on the course following the championship match. The final results and a story will be posted tonight.

Keep your fingers crossed that Ol' Sol comes out to play ;-)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sunday Morning Tee Times

Championship Flight
Temple-Lyford vs. Choukas-Hayes, 7:50 tee 1
MacDonald-MacDonald vs. Obar-Vielleux, 8:00 tee 1

First Flight
Pollard-Brunone vs. Jankowski-Jankowski, 7:20 tee 1
Jn Keane-M. Keane vs. Gage-Doyle, 7:30 tee 1

Second Flight
Taylor-Taylor vs. Wolter-Mulviell 7:00 tee 1
Hughes-Clark vs. Downes-McGuire, 7:10 tee 1

Third Flight
Scanlon-Dunworth vs. Sinclair-Robblee, 8:10 tee 1
Sullivan-Jm Keane vs. Carr-Dupree, 8:20 tee 1

Consolation Matches
Championship Flight
Kelly-Becker vs. Viger-Wood, 7:50 tee 10
Cable-Cable vs. Wiliamson-King, 8:00 tee 10

First Flight
Harvey-Lincoln vs. Fittro-Hartford, 7:20 tee 10
Mullen-Mullen vs. Donnelly-Hazard, 7:30 tee 10

Second Flight
Colligan-Colligan vs. Demment-Demment, 7:00 tee 10
Th Keane-K Keane vs. Yukica-Yukica, 7:10 tee 10

Third Flight
Hall-Pyer vs. Whitman-Whitman, 8:10 tee 10
Winslow-Mellow vs. Loohuis-Loohuis, 8:20 tee 10

All tee times unofficial.

TKI Win An Enduring Memory

HANOVER – On a day when a wave of Upper Valley golfers swept into the 40th Tommy Keane Invitational semifinals arguably the finest golfer to come out of an area high school reflected on what the event has meant to him.

Lebanon grad Rich Parker teed it up in the 1990 U.S. Open at Medinah and Senior Open, cashed a check at the PGA Tour’s Bank of Boston Classic, challenged for his card at “Q School,”  won the Trinidad Open to earn a spot in the Gene Sarazen World Open, took the Hogan Tour’s 1991 Boise Open to a playoff, hung with Ernie Els on the South African Tour as a young gun and won just about everything you can around New England.

All that, and winning the 1981 Tommy Keane Invitational remains one of his most cherished golf memories.

Parker told the dinner crowd at the TKI as much Friday night. He reiterated those feelings after walking a few holes watching old friends and new faces Saturday afternoon.

“This a very special tournament,” said Parker, who teamed with Laffy Lahaye to win the seventh TKI in 1981 after his freshman year at Plymouth State. “You think of all the names. (Don) Beckwith. (Will) Volz. (Don) Folsom. (John) Donnelly. (Art) Bemis. (Jerry Daly). Those are some great names and the list goes on and on.”

Parker won just one TKI title, but it is still talked about and remembered warmly by the Dartmouth men’s golf coach.

“Golf is an individual sport and you don’t get to win a lot with your buddies,” he said. “We didn’t win a lot in college, hardly ever actually. So that was an unbelievable win for me and Laf. Even for the friendship it was so cool.”

Legend has it that Lahaye helped the future pro on just one hole per round. While he didn’t dispute the story Parker appreciated Lahaye’s contribution to the cause.

“He helped every 18,” said Parker with a laugh. “I know he birdied 14 against Gibson and Goodrow. I don’t remember what he did against Bemis and Donnelly but he did something. And then in the championship match he pitched in with a 7-iron over the humps on 17. The place went berserk.”

Parker wrapped up his remarks Friday night with a touching acknowledgement of what Tommy Keane – the son of the former Hanover pro – has meant to him. The two shared a few moments under the tent Saturday.

“I’ve had a wonderful relationship with TK,” said Parker of the octogenarian who is dealing with health issues. “He’s always been great to me.

“I hadn’t seen him in a while so I’m glad I had a chance to see him out here. He’s a great man.”

The Championship flight went according to form Saturday as the 1, 2, 3 and 4 seeds advanced to Sunday’s all-Upper Valley semifinals.

Former Hartford teammates Zach Temple and Mak Lyford posted a 4&3 win in their morning match and then took a 3&1 win over onetime Hanover and Providence College player Dean Cashman and Chris Hynes.

Awaiting Temple and Lyford are young turks Nate Choukas and Benny Hayes, another pair of Hanover High collegians who lived up to their fourth seed by winning their morning match, 2&1, and following with a 1-up win over Henry and Jim McGannon.

On the other side of the bracket defending champions Shane and Nick MacDonald of Lebanon took a pair of 4&3 wins, the second against Scott Peters and Andy Hydorn.

The second-seeded MacDonalds will play third-seeded Jake Obar and Bill Vielleux. The former standout athletes at Hartford won their morning match 1 up and then needed 19 holes to outlast Chris Taylor and Patrick Norden to set up the showdown with the MacDonalds.

Saturday Night Brackets

Click to enlarge.

7 PM Update

This will be the final hourly update until everyone is in and the newspaper is taken care of so check back later tonight for full brackets and a short story.

6 PM Update

A few more scores . . .

5 PM Update

Scores continue to trickle in, trickle being the operative word ;-)

As always, click to enlarge the brackets.

4 PM Update

Just one new match to report, a win by Bob Wortmann and Chet Oddis in 23 holes over Joe and Mike Yukica in the second flight. Added a couple of more scores in the same flight.

Hopefully more at 5 . . .

3 PM Updates

Not much in the way of new scores. Things should start popping at 4.

2 PM Update