QUINCY, Mass. – Liam Friedman, PGA (Nashawtuc CC) and Dan Venezio, PGA (Portland CC) backed up stellar Stroke Play Series showings from a week ago with matching 64s on Tuesday at Presidents Golf Course to tie for the New England PGA Stroke Play Series #5 title.
Friedman set the bar at 6-under par early in the day, making seven birdies with just one bogey. He did most of his damage in a nine-hole stretch starting at the fourth, making six birdies in that span to get to five-under for the day. He added a birdie on the Par-5 15th to get to -6 before making par on the final three holes.
“It favors the longer hitters if you’re accurate off the tee,” Friedman said of the course, which played at about 5,800 yards on Tuesday. “I could reach a whole bunch of the Par-4s, I could reach all the Par-5s in two. The greens are a great equalizer. They’re very undulating and it’s tough to even get the speed right and get the breaks right, so you had to be well-positioned.”
Friedman, the defending Avidia Cup Finals Champion who also won on Aug. 27 at the Cape Club of Sharon in the fourth NEPGA Stroke Play Series event, will look to defend his title at his home course, as the Avidia Cup Finals head to Nashawtuc CC on Sept. 30. With Tuesday’s win, Friedman narrowly surpassed Rich Berberian, PGA (Vesper CC) atop the Avidia Cup Standings.
“It would mean a lot to me to defend this year, especially because Nashawtuc is hosting the Avidia Cup Finals, more so than if it were elsewhere,” Friedman said. “Last year winning the Avidia Cup Finals was really awesome, but I almost didn’t have the understanding of how big of an event it was. This year we’ve been talking about the Avidia Cup Finals at Nashawtuc since the beginning of the season.”
Venezio took it deep by carding eagles on the Par-5 fifth and 15 holes. He added four birdies, offset by two bogeys, and shot 32 on both sides to post 64. By day’s end, Venezio played the course’s four Par-5s a total of 5-under par.
“It’s all about where you put the ball on the green,” Venezio said after his round. “Being from Maine, it reminded me of Cape Arundel, another 6,000-yard course. You don’t need to hit to hit it as far as you can. On certain holes it can help you, on other ones it can really put you in a bad spot. Some of the greens have a lot of contour and a lot of slope where if you’re above the hole it’s really scary and if you’re below the hole it’s a green light. It’s all about how you attack the green and from what angle.”
It’s the second top-3 finish in as many weeks for Venezio, who finished T2 a week ago in the Stroke Play Series event at the Cape Club of Sharon.
“I made a quick little tweak with my grip about two weeks ago and I’ve been hitting the ball solid ever since,” he added. “I’m glad to see some good results come out of it.”
Robert Bruso, PGA (Blackstone National GC) played the back-nine in 5-under par 31 after an even-par front to finish one stroke behind Friedman and Venezio. Troy Pare, PGA (Ledgement CC), Matt Zdon, PGA (Belmont CC), Rick Karbowski, PGA (Auburn Driving Range), Todd Scarafoni, PGA (Bass Rocks) and Steven Hausmann, PGA (Hausmann Golf) tied for fourth at 4-under par. In all, 20 players finished under par, and another six finished even-par for the tournament.
Tuesday’s tournament was the last of five Stroke Play events that make up the NEPGA Stroke Play Series. The top 54 players, based on points, from the five stroke play events plus the Chapter Championships, qualify for the Avidia Cup Finals, Sept. 30 at Nashawtuc CC.
The New England PGA thanks partners Bushnell, Cutter & Buck, Ahead, Avidia Bank and the PGA Tour for their Support. A big thank you also goes to Presidents GC professional Dana Smith, PGA, for hosting Tuesday’s event.