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Collegian Wins Public Links Title in Playoff at Waubeeka

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- But for a miscue on the 17th hole of Monday’s final round, Matt Cowgill would have won the 35th annual Massachusetts Amateur Public Links Championship in regulation.
 
But a similar mistake by his opponent on the same hole opened the door for Cowgill to win the title on the third sudden-death playoff hole at Waubeeka Golf Links.
 
Cowgill made the most of the opportunity, chipping from the apron to within a couple feet of the pin and knocking down a birdie putt to win the hole and the title.
 
An hour earlier, Cowgill hit his second shot into the woods that line the 17th fairway. That led to just his third bogey of the round and dropped him into a tie for first after 36 holes with Cody Booska of Crumpin-Fox, who used a 1-under 70 to finish the two-day event at 3-under 139.
 
Cowgill of Wayland Country Club was 4-under on Monday, a day that saw him record five birdies and an eagle on the 400-yard, par-4 seventh hole.
 
After making one of his few mistakes on the 501-yard, par-5 No. 17, Cowgill was not excited to see it in the rotation for the playoff.
 
“Not really, no,” he said when it was over. “I just made a bad club choice on that second shot, and I almost did it again. But it worked out OK.
 
“It ends up biting him, though. It’s a tough hole. It’s a good hole for a playoff.”
 
Booska hit his tee shot into the woods and ended up needing to play a provisional ball. Cowgill, meanwhile, drove the left side of the fairway and hit his second shot just past the green on the right side. His chip shot rolled within striking distance, and he finished with his eighth subpar hole of the day -- six during the round, one on the first playoff hole and then the deciding hole.
 
After finishing Sunday’s first round four strokes off the pace, the rising junior at James Madison University from Weston charged hard out of the gate on Monday morning with an aggressive approach to the Waubeeka layout.
 
“I had a great front nine,” Cowgill said. “I got on a stretch there where I was six under for five holes. I holed out [on No. 7], which was a nice break.
 
“Then I stumbled a little on the back. The tee ball hurt me a little bit. I got out of position. But I hung in there and made a couple of putts. And my dad [Richard Cowgill] kept me focused there down the stretch, except for 17, which my fault.”
 
Cowgill played in the third to last group on Friday. He did not know until he finished how the leaders, including first-day leader and former champion Herbie Aikens, were faring.
“I wasn’t sure,” Cowgill said. “After I made the turn, I figured I was within one or two of the lead. But I made a bogey on 12, and I had no idea where that put me at that point. So I went back to hitting the greens and trying to give myself look.
 
“I didn’t know where I was [on the leaderboard] on the back. I was happy to hear I was leading when I came in.”
 
Aikens ended up in a two-way tie for third place at 2-under. The rest of the 65-player second-round field finished at par or above for the weekend, although seven players broke par on Monday.
 
Cowgill said winning the event was one of the highlights of his young career in golf. Not surprisingly for someone coming off a such an accomplishment, he had nothing but praise for Waubeeka.
 
“I love the golf course,” Cowgill said. “There were a couple of holes that bit me both times, but the greens were phenomenal. I struggled a little with them yesterday, just with the speed. But the greens are great.”
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