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Mass. Amateur

Rested and ready, Riley moves to quarterfinals

By Michael Whitmer
Globe Staff / July 14, 2011

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Ryan Riley polished off his first-round win yesterday morning at the 103d Massachusetts Amateur, grabbed a bite to eat, and figured he’d return to the golf course soon after that for his second-round match.

Instead, Riley was forced to wait. And wait. And wait.

Once Riley’s opponent in the round of 16 finally was determined - defending champion John Hadges outlasted Tim Tunstall in 26 holes - he used the three hours of unexpected rest to his advantage, beating Hadges, 2 and 1, at Wyantenuck Country Club in Great Barrington to move into the quarterfinals.

“I figured that if I could keep hitting solid shots that eventually good things would happen,’’ said Riley, looking for his first Amateur title. “He missed a couple of mid-range putts on the back nine and I made a couple of up-and-downs.’’

Riley (Norton CC) never trailed against Hadges, taking the lead for good by winning the seventh and eighth holes to go two holes up. Still leading by one hole after the 13th, Riley closed the door by winning Nos. 14 and 15, both times when Hadges failed to make par. All five holes Riley won, in fact, came when Hadges (Thorny Lea Golf Club) made bogey.

Next up for Riley is Dan White (Vesper CC), who ousted No. 2 seed Jason Thresher in the second round, 3 and 2.

The Hadges-Tunstall match wasn’t the only one pushed to extra holes. Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich) needed 24 holes in his second-round match to beat Brian Higgins, the reigning Massachusetts Golf Association player of the year. Clapp overcame an early three-hole deficit, then beat Higgins with a birdie on No. 6. He’ll face Harvard senior-to-be Antonio Grillo, who knocked out Jack Whelan in the first round (1-up) and Wyantenuck member Davis Mullany in the second (2-up). Grillo used chip-ins to win key holes late in both matches.

Colin Brennan, the stroke-play medalist from Indian Ridge CC, moved on with a pair of wins - 1-up over Noah Walker in the morning, then 4 and 2 over Scott Congdon. Brennan meets Daniel Falcucci (Cyprian Keyes), who needed 19 holes to eliminate Andy Mai.

“I actually felt more pressure in the morning as a medalist, but after I got that match under my belt it doesn’t matter anymore,’’ Brennan said. “Everyone on the board could easily win this thing. The field in match play is phenomenal.’’

The other quarterfinal will pit nine-time MGA player of the year Frank Vana Jr. (Marlborough CC) against Brandon Tufts. Vana - the only past Amateur champion remaining - needed just 32 holes to win his two matches yesterday, while Tufts (Tedesco CC) was stretched to the 18th hole twice, beating Andy Drohen, 2-up, and Joe Cunningham, 1-up.

This morning’s quarterfinals will be followed by the semifinals this afternoon. The semifinal winners advance to tomorrow’s 36-hole final.

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