MARBLEHEAD – After beating John Hadges in a second-round match at the 104th Massachusetts Amateur on Wednesday afternoon, Ricky Stimets wondered — half-jokingly — if he could play the final four holes at Tedesco Country Club.
Considering what Stimets had done over the first 14 holes, who could blame him? In his 6 and 4 victory over Hadges (the 2010 champion), Stimets made nine birdies and was 8 under par. The course record at the par-70 Tedesco is 64; Stimets, who closed his match by making six straight birdies, was on pace to shoot 62. He might have gone lower.
“It was nice, a lot of putts were falling,” Stimets said. “Hopefully I stay in [that kind of zone] tomorrow. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, I’ve still got at least one more match, hopefully three more.”
Stimets is a senior-to-be at North Alabama and plays out of Oyster Harbors. Before Wednesday, he never had won a match at the Massachusetts Amateur, losing the only other time he qualified for match play, in 2008. Two wins on Wednesday — he beat Andrew Dame, 3 and 2, then Hadges — has Stimets in the quarterfinals, thinking big.
“My expectation is to win it,” he said. “My game’s good right now. I don’t want to sound cocky or get ahead of myself, but I wouldn’t have signed up for this event if I didn’t think I could win it.”
Stimets birdied No. 1 from 8 feet, added short birdies on Nos. 2 and 4, and had two-putt birdies on the ninth and 10th, both par-5 holes. But because of Hadges’s solid play — he didn’t make a bogey in the match, and was 2 under at the time it ended — Stimets was only 2 up after nine holes. Five more birdies ended it, and moved Stimets into a Thursday morning match against Jack Whelan, who beat D.J. Hynes, 6 and 5, in the second round.
Nobody played fewer holes on Wednesday than Mark Souliotis, who earned a 4 and 3 victory in the morning, then knocked out Mike Pochily, 7 and 5, in the afternoon. Like Stimets, Souliotis never had won a match before at the Massachusetts Amateur. The first two came with his son, Michael, as his caddie. Michael Souliotis shot 76-76 and didn’t advance to match play. Freed up to work, he helped his father win twice.
“Today it was my irons; earlier I was hitting it in the fairways. But I’ve been putting good the whole time, and if you’re putting good on these they’re going to roll true and go in the hole,” said Souliotis, who lives in Acton, plays at Haverhill Country Club, and is a software engineer for Raytheon. “We pulled in the parking lot this morning and I said, ‘This is all gravy and all fun now.’ It was competition, but it was a lot of fun.”
Colin Brennan, one of four stroke-play co-medalists at even-par 140, knocked out two-time winner Frank Vana in the second round, 1 up. He’ll get Ben Spitz in the quarterfinals. Spitz played the day’s longest match, knocking out 2003 winner Andy Drohen in 25 holes with a birdie on No. 7, a 236-yard par-3.
“Twenty-five holes, plus however many this morning? I’m pretty tired,” Spitz said. “I was happy to make match play, and happy to win two matches.”
The fourth quarterfinal pits Mike Calef against Josh Salah, at No. 26 the lowest remaining seed. Calef beat Doug Clapp in the second round, 1 up, while Salah bumped Dan McQueen, 4 and 3.
Thursday morning’s winners meet in the semifinals in the afternoon, with the 36-hole championship match scheduled for Friday.
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Kristen Macdonald of Tomson Country Club held on for a one-stroke victory at the 56th New England Women’s Golf Championship, shooting a final-round 76 at Natanis Golf Club in Vassalboro, Maine. Macdonald finished at 6-over-par 222, one stroke in front of Samantha Morrell of Rhode Island, who closed with 74. Pam Kuong of Charles River finished with 75 and was third, eight shots behind Macdonald.
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Chelso Barrett, the only New Englander to advance to match play at the US Amateur Public Links, lost in the first round, 6 and 5, to Greg Condon in Midway, Utah. Condon, of Monte Vista, Colo., never trailed, winning the first two holes and building a four-hole lead after six.