CONCORD, Mass. – Bob Bruso, PGA (Blackstone National GC) not only knocked off defending Avidia Cup Champion Liam Friedman, PGA (Nashawtuc CC) to win the New England PGA Stroke Play Series Finals and the 2019 Avidia Cup Championship, but he did it on Friedman’s own turf.
Playing alongside Friedman in the final group on Monday, Bruso shot a 3-under par 69 at Nashawtuc Country Club to pick up a one-stroke win over Eric Barlow, PGA (Winchester CC). The 2,000 Avidia Cup Standings points that come with winning the finale vaulted Bruso, who entered the day at fourth in the season-long standings, into the top spot.
“Liam and I are good buddies so we had a great time out there,” Bruso said. “He helped me out on a couple holes, not knowing where I was going. Playing with someone like him, you keep the pedal down because you know he’s going to shoot a good score. He was fueling me all day and we were going back-and-forth so I think having him there really helped.”
Bruso got off to a slow start, bogeying the par-5 opening hole and giving another stroke back on the par-5 ninth. But with two birdies in between, he made the turn in even-par and re-focused going into the back-nine.
“I said to myself, ‘I’m still in a good spot.’ I knew I was hitting the ball well and I was putting well so I told myself ‘just stay patient and you’re going to make some birdies.’ On the back side I just stayed really steady and I was lucky enough to shoot 3-under on the back, which was awesome. I was a little nervous coming down the stretch but I was able to slow down, take a few breaths, and finish it out.”
Bruso carded birdies on the 10th, 14th and 16th holes without a bogey on the back-nine to shoot the winning score.
“I did a good job of keeping the ball in play,” he said. “I don’t think I was scrambling that much all day. I hit my 2-iron a lot around here and hit a lot of fairways and hit a lot of greens. There wasn’t really a lot of stress out there today. That was my game-plan going in, and it paid off.”
Barlow had just one blemish on his scorecard in a 2-under par round of 70. Ryan McLean, PGA (Essex County Club), David Bennett, PGA (CC of Vermont) and Rico Riciputi, PGA (Wentworth By The Sea) tied for third at 1-under par. Friedman and Dan Gillis, PGA (Nabnasset Lake CC) tied for sixth at even-par.
The Stroke Play Series Finals and the Avidia Cup Championship weren’t the only season-long competitions decided on Monday. The tournament was the final event of the 2019 OMEGA Wogan Player of the Year points race, as well as the 1st & 10th Tee Challenge. Despite missing the event to represent Team USA in the PGA Cup, Rich Berberian, PGA (Vesper CC) held on to his Wogan Player of the Year lead to capture his third such honor (2016, ’17). Shawn Warren, the only player in the field who could have caught Berberian, finished in a six-way tie for ninth at 2-over par, coming up just short of the top spot.
Greg Farland, PGA (Marlborough CC) clinched the 1st Tee Challenge with a season-long score of 5-under par in qualifying events, while Bennett birdied Nashawtuc’s 10th hole on Monday to catch Berberian atop the 10th Tee Challenge leaderboard at 4-under.
Thank you to the partners who made the season-long NEPGA Stroke Play Series possible, title sponsor Avidia Bank and partners Bushnell Golf, SCNS Sports Foods, Ahead, Cutter & Buck, and the PGA Tour. A big thank you also goes to Nashawtuc CC and General Manager Chris Carpenter, PGA, Head Professional Brian Smith, PGA, and the entire staff.