Saturday’s championship of the 113th Massachusetts Amateur will pit a past champion vs. a highly-touted player making his tournament debut.
Matt Parziale, the 2017 Mass. Amateur winner, took down a pair of higher-seeded players in Friday’s match play to advance to Saturday’s 36-hole final at Brae Burn Country Club. The 34-year Parziale will tee off against 19-year-old former Wellesley High star Michael Thorbjornsen, the 2018 US Junior Amateur champion who recently completed his freshman year at Stanford.
Parziale (Thorny Lea Golf Club), the No. 8 seed, opened Friday’s match play by taking down No. 1 seed Ben Spitz (George Wright CC), 2 and 1. Parziale took the lead with a two-putt for par on No. 15, and then finishing with a par on the 255-yard, par-3 17th with Spitz unable to make par to extend the match.
“It’s a pleasure playing with Ben,” Parziale said. “I’ve known him for 15 years now, and he’s the best — his golf game and in person — so we had a good time together.”
In the semifinals, Parziale overcame a bogey on the first hole and an early deficit to beat No. 4 seed Chris Bornhorst (Brae Burn CC), 4 and 3. He won the next two holes to take the lead, then hit the flag on No. 10 and two-putted for birdie. Parziale won the 11th and 14th holes to close the match.
Thorbjornsen opened the day with a 3 and 2 win over No. 10 seed Michael Amari (Northern Spy Golf Club). He won 8 of the 16 holes played in the match, including four straight from Nos. 8-11.
Advancing to the semifinals for the first time, Thorbjornsen then beat No. 14 seed Chris Francoeur (Amesbury Golf & Country Club), 3 and 2. He led by two at the turn before Francoeur got one back on No. 11, then play was suspended because of lightning while they were on No. 14. But once play resumed, Thorbjornsen birdied the next three holes to close the match.
Thorbjornsen is looking forward to the opportunities of facing Parziale, and playing a 36-hole match.
“Nothing changes, I’d say. If anything, I like this even better because if I find myself down two after 16 holes, I have literally 20 more holes to play. It doesn’t really mean anything, you just have to keep chugging at it and try my best,” Thorbjornsen said. “I know [Parziale] hits it pretty far, he can putt well. Him playing well will force me to play well and vice versa, so it should be fun and exciting,”