ROCHESTER, N.H. – Three titles were on the line at the New England PGA Avidia Cup Finals at Rochester Country Club on Monday, and Liam Friedman, PGA (Nashawtuc CC) left with two of them.
Friedman shot 3-under par 69 to finish second at the NEPGA Avidia Cup finals and win the season-long Avidia Bank Cup and the NEPGA Omega Skip Wogan Player of the Year award. Meanwhile, Frank Leja, PGA (New Seabury) won the Avidia Cup Finals with a 4-under par round of 68.
Leja was 2-over through four holes with bogeys on the first and fourth but erased the damage with back-to-back birdies on the fifth and sixth, and keep the momentum alive with another birdie on the ninth and three more on the back to post 4-under.
“I struck the ball as good as I’ve struck it in many years off the tee and into greens and I started seeing a couple putts go down and I was able to use my length to attack a lot of these pins,” Leja said. “I was hitting pitching wedge or sand wedge into most of the par 4s.”
Leja’s win boosted him into a second-place finish in the season-long race for the Avidia Bank Cup.
Friedman, who entered the finals as the Avidia Bank Cup points leader for the second consecutive season, won his second Avidia Cup by finishing in a three-way tie for second at 3-under. He carded five birdies with bogeys on the seventh and eighth proving to be his only blemishes. With his second-place finish, Friedman also secured his first Wogan Player of the Year award. He entered the day in second place, narrowly behind Shawn Warren, PGA (Falmouth CC), and edged Warren by a stroke Monday.
“I’m a thinker anyway, so there’s no way I could block it out,” Friedman said when asked if the Wogan award was on his radar throughout the round. “The only thing that I can do is focus shot to shot and try to hit good shots and find a way to make birdies. I played with Shawn (Warren) in the final round of the Assistants Championship and he beat the brakes off me, he played great. That actually freed me up today because he’s playing so well.”
Rich Berberian, PGA (Vesper CC) and Jeff Seavey, PGA (Goose River) joined Friedman in the tie for second with rounds of 3-under. Warren and Kyle Dobbs, PGA (Bay Club at Mattapoisett) tied for fifth at 2-under. Dobbs was off to a hot start, making the turn at 5-under par, before playing the back-9 2-over to finish at -2. Warren birdied all four par-5s, offset by two bogeys.
Thank you to Rochester CC and head golf professional Mitch Jefferson, PGA and assistant professional Brett Smestad, PGA, for hosting the Avidia Bank Cup Finals. The NEPGA also thanks Avidia Bank for making the entire Stroke Play Series and Avidia Cup Finals possible, along with partners Bushnell Golf, Harbor Hemp Company, Omega and the PGA TOUR.