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Massachusetts Amateur

Elite form first-round logjam

By Michael Whitmer
Globe Staff / July 12, 2011

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The five players tied for the lead after the first stroke-play round of the 103d Massachusetts Amateur are comfortable and successful playing in elite state golf events. Four of the five own Massachusetts Golf Association titles. Four of the five advanced to the round of 16 at last year’s Amateur.

No surprise, then, that Colin Brennan, Daniel Falcucci, Ryan Riley, Bradford Tufts, and Frank Vana Jr. were first-day leaders, all shooting a 2-under-par 68 yesterday at Wyantenuck Country Club in Great Barrington. The Berkshires layout, which opened in 1896, is hosting the state’s marquee amateur event for the first time.

“After the practice round [on Saturday], it was a course where I felt comfortable and a course that suited my game nicely,’’ said Falcucci, the reigning Massachusetts Mid-Amateur champion. “I am definitely happy with a good round to start the tournament.’’

Falcucci, who plays out of Cyprian Keyes, began his round in grand fashion: He drove the green on the 324-yard, par-4 10th hole and two-putted for birdie, then added a birdie on No. 11. He finished with six birdies for the day, overcoming back-to-back bogeys on 16 and 17.

In addition to his Mid-Amateur title, Falcucci is coming off his second straight appearance in the US Amateur Public Links championship, two weeks ago at Bandon Dunes Resort along the Oregon coast. He advanced to match play for the first time, losing in the first round. But it certainly gave him confidence as he attempts to win his first Amateur.

“Just making it to the [Public Links] championship is great, but to get to match play against that kind of field is special.’’

Tufts (Tedesco Country Club) also made six birdies in his 68, while Brennan (Indian Ridge CC) had three in a four-hole stretch to spark his round. Vana (Marlborough CC) and Riley (Norton CC) had just one bogey each.

Riley has won at least a share of the past three Massachusetts Golf Association Four-Ball titles, Brennan was on the winning Four-Ball team in 2007, and Vana is a nine-time MGA player of the year who won back-to-back Amateur championships in 2004-05.

Davis Mullany, a member at Wyantenuck, was one of three players a shot back at 69, along with Jeff Corbett (Sagamore Spring Golf Club) and Andy Drohen (Crestview), the 2003 Amateur champion. Defending champion John Hadges (Thorny Lea) opened with a 1-over 71.

The low 32 players from the field of 144 after today’s second stroke-play round will advance to match play, which starts tomorrow and concludes with Friday’s 36-hole final. Through 18 holes, there were 38 players at 72 or better.

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com.