QUECHEE, Vt. – Mark Purrington can finally rest after shooting 5-under 66 in the first round of the 2019 New England Open at the Quechee Club on Tuesday. Purrington made the 200-mile drive up to the Quechee Club for his morning tee time after competing in the 36-hole US Open Sectional Qualifier in Purchase, N.Y., on Monday, and tied for the 18-hole lead with his bogey- free performance.
“I practiced patience on the Merritt Parkway,” Purrington joked after his round. “I didn’t feel too bad this morning. A little groggy but maybe that helps for golf.”
His patience paid off. Purrington took the safe route on a couple key holes and was rewarded with birdies. First, using an iron off the tee on the drivable par-4 ninth hole to easily find the fairway. He then hit his approach to 11 feet and made the birdie putt. The Dartmouth, Mass., native employed a similar strategy on the par-4 16th hole.
“On 16 I laid up where you guys were enticing us to go for it. I hit it to 30 feet and made the putt again,” he added. “I stayed patient. I was patient with all my shots and my putter was working really well today. I hit the ball really close to the hole, and when you hit it close to the hole the game gets easy.”
Jack Lang matched Purrington with a 66 late in the day. Lang, who recently turned professional after completing one of the most decorated golf careers in Davidson College history, made five birdies without a bogey on Tuesday. After opening with five consecutive pars, Lang birdied the sixth and ninth holes to make the turn in 33. He birdied both par-5s on the back-nine, the 14th and 18th holes, and added a birdie on the 10th to come post 66.
Nick Pandelena and Brandon Lacasse are just one stroke behind the leaders after shooting 67 on Tuesday.
Pandelena doesn’t have much history in the New England Open, but he’s certainly leaving his mark on the prestigious regional tournament. In his only previous New England Open appearance, Pandelena earned his first payday as a professional golfer, finishing T38 in 2016. Today, playing the Quechee Club’s Highland Course for the first time, Pandelena shot 67 to secure a spot in the final group for the second half of the 36-hole tournament on Wednesday.
“I didn’t even play a practice round this week, so this was the first time I saw this golf course. I hadn’t played the Highland Course until today,” Pandelena said after his bogey-free 67. “I made a 25-footer on 15, and that was the longest putt I made. Other than that it was a pretty boring round. I played smart and there was nothing crazy.”
Pandelena birdied the fourth and ninth holes to make the turn in 2-under and went back-to-back on the 14th and 15th holes to get to -4 and grab the clubhouse lead for most of the afternoon.
Lacasse had a roller-coaster round on Tuesday. He birdied four of his first eight holes to get to 4-under, but then went bogey-birdie-bogey-bogey and found himself 2-under through 12. After making par on the 13th hole, his first par since the seventh, Lacasse got back to four-under with back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th. He finished with three consecutive pars to card 67.
Ryan McCormick went berserk on the back nine to card a 68 enter the final round tied for fifth. After a double-bogey on the 10th hole McCormick was 3-over for the day, but he birdied his next four holes and six of his final eight to shoot 32 on the back.
Matt Paradis made four birdies and shot 69 to post the low round of the 14 amateurs who teed it up on Tuesday. He enters Wednesdays second round just three shots off the lead.
The final 18 holes will be contested on Wednesday, also at the Quechee Club’s Highland Course. The New England Open wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Quechee Club and host PGA Professional T.J. Anthoine, as well as partners Mohegan Sun, Turkish Airlines, Lincoln Motor Company and the PGA TOUR.