New Hampshire’s Mike Martel held off a stout field to score his first professional win, the 110th Massachusetts Open at Vesper Country Club in Tyngsborough, Mass., Wednesday.
His one-shot win in the 54-hole event earned him $15,000.
The 26-year-old from New Ipswich registered an eagle and two birdies on his final nine holes as a member of the final grouping to edge Tampa, Fla., golfer Ryan Gendron. Massachusetts native Jake Shuman, of Needham and Blue Hill Country Club, placed third at 10-under 206.
Martel closed with a 69 in front of dozens of Vesper Country Club members and other spectators. He also shot rounds of 69, Monday, and 66, Tuesday.
The Vermont Open and the N.H. Open are next week, on successive days. The N.H. Open is being played at Bretwood in Keene and at the Keene Country Club. Rounds one and three will be on Bretwood’s North Course; round two will be at Keene CC.
Martel has positive memories of Bretwood. He won his second State-Am title there two years ago, playing spectacularly and dominantly over the stretch of that weeklong event, also on the North Course.
The Vermont Open is Monday-Wednesday at the Lake Morey Resort and Country Club in Fairlee. The N.H. Open is Thursday-Saturday.
As for Wednesday, Martel did just enough to hang on.
“It wasn’t easy; I got off to a little bit of a slow start, but I made the eagle on 11 from off the green and that kind of turned things,” explained Martel, a two time N.H. Amateur titlist. “I birdied 12 and came right from the bogey with another birdie.”
After making par on the first two holes, he bogeyed the par-4 third hole, but rebounded with three straight pars on holes four through six. On the par-5 seventh hole, he registered his first birdie of the day and finished the front half at even-par 36.
“I didn’t make anything and I made all my short putts today, which was the key,” he said. “I didn’t three-putt at all this week which definitely won me the golf tournament.”
Once making the turn to the backside, Martel did more of the same – continuing to stay low while fighting off both Shuman, who was 5-under through 11 holes on the day – as well as Horseheads, N.Y., player Jamison Sindelar – the fourth place finisher – who went 4-under in his final seven holes.
On the par-5 11th hole, a dogleg left that played at 588 yards, Martel hit driver off the tee, his driving iron on his second shot to just left of the green and chipped it in for his eagle – one of only six eagles recorded by the field of 60 competitors on the day.
He used a sand wedge to set up a birdie on the 12th hole and rebounded from a 14th-hole bogey by birdieing the 15. A key up-and-down at 17, followed by a par at 18 secured his narrow win.
He added, “I was sticking to my game plan. I was hitting it where I wanted to hit it and I just wanted to roll some putts in. Coming down the stretch, I made some keys ones. Up and down on 17. That’s pretty much it.”
Colin Brennan, the 2017 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur champion, entered Wednesday’s third and final round in a tie for the low amateur honors with Herbie Aikens, T10 on the leaderboard and five strokes behind leader Martel. In his final round, the 30-year from Indian Ridge Country Club in Andover carded a 2-under 70 to finish at 6-under 210.
With his 6-under 210 mark, Brennan finished one stroke ahead of Aikens. In total, 17 amateurs made the cut and advanced to the final round.
Rich Berberian Jr., the head professional at Vesper, tied for 16th, at 3-under par, while Matthew Paradis, the defending N.H. Amateur champion, tied for 35th at 1-over.
Jason Thresher, who won the New England Open last week, finished tied for 11th at 5-under with bookend rounds of 69. He had six birdies and three bogeys Wednesday.