COHASSET, Mass. –Just two weeks before the start of the 100th New England PGA Section Championship, two past champions tied for the top spot at the NEPGA Stroke Play Series event at Cohasset GC on Monday. John Hickson, PGA (Chequessett Yacht & CC) and Liam Friedman, PGA (Nashawtuc CC) each shot 2-under par to lead the 80-player field.
With high winds whipping throughout the day, patience was prioritized over perfect golf, as Hickson and Friedman both overcame mistakes to finish under-par, the only two players in the field to do so. Hickson, the 1995 and 2011 Section Champion, credited his putter for getting him into red figures, but the flatstick also gave him some trouble.
“I made some good putts, which of course you’re going to if you shoot under par,” he said. “On the flip side I did have a foolish four-putt, but I made a couple putts from 20 to 30 feet.”
“You could hit a good shot and the wind can blow it offline, even not by much, and then all of the sudden you get a bad lie in the rough and you can make bogey pretty quick,” Hickson added. “You had to be patient. The greens were great so you did have to make some putts to balance the scale.”
Hickson finished the day with five birdies, including four on the front-9 where he shot 3-under par 33. All five of Hickson’s birdies were on par 4s, and he made par on each of Cohasset’s four par 3s, giving him nine 3s on the scorecard.
Friedman posted 2-under par 68 with five birdies of his own, but spent much of his front-9 undoing a triple-bogey on the first hole.
“Coming into the round I really felt like I had a good chance to win because I just felt comfortable with my game,” he said. “But then I had a quick shot to the gut right off the first tee. I hit a poor drive, I couldn’t find it so I had to come back and hit another one which I saw go into the hazard. I had to get up and down to make seven.”
Instead of packing it in, Friedman, the 2017 NEPGA Section Champion, got busy making birdies on the third, sixth and seventh holes to get back to even-par. He added three more in a four hole stretch after making the turn, with birdies on the 10th, 11th and 13th holes.
“I look at it like ‘hey, you’re going to make three or four bogeys in a round anyway, you just got them all out of the way on one hole’ and I tried to climb back from there,” Friedman said of his mindset after the early stumble. “Really, it was a battle the whole time.”
Aaron Ungvarsky, PGA (Big Sticks Golf Academy), Jeff Seavey, PGA (Goose River) and Kirk Hanefeld, PGA (Salem CC) tied for third at even-par, one stroke ahead of Kyle Dobbs (Bay Club at Mattapoisett) and Aaron Harper (Ipswich CC).
Greg Farland, PGA (Marlborough CC) who entered the day atop the Avidia Bank Cup Standings, finished tied for 8th at 2-over par. The fifth and final Stroke Play Series event of 2020 is Sept. 8 at Haverhill CC. The top 54 players after the five-event series will be invited to the Avidia Bank Cup Finals, Sept. 28 at Portland CC.
Thank you to Cohasset Golf Club and head professional Bryan Kienke, PGA, for welcoming the NEPGA Stoke Play Series to the facility. A big thank you also goes to NEPGA partners Avidia Bank, Bushnell, Omega and the PGA TOUR for support in the event.