Lee's Fraser Wins Western Mass Title

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. -- Thomas Fraser’s high school golf coach says he does not worry about the Lee High senior because he  knows Thomas  is going to be “in the mix.”

Next week, Thomas will get to mix it up in the State Division 3 Championship.

On Monday, Thomas carded a 5-over-par round of 77 at the Orchards Golf Club to earn medalist honors at the Western Mass Championship and a berth in next week’s state meet at Wyantenuck Country Club.

“I’ve always dreamt of this, since I was a seventh-grader on varsity,” Fraser said. “It finally happened, so I’m excited.”

Thomas finished two strokes ahead of co-runners-up Jack Ter Doest of Hopkins Academy and Luke Willenborg of St. Mary, who tied at 79.

Although Thomas will be moving on to the state meet, the Berkshire County teams in the field were not so lucky.

Thomas and his Wildcats teammates finished one stroke out of an automatic qualifying spot, finishing at 364 and placing third. The top two teams qualify for the state championship.

Monson won the sectional with a 351, and Franklin Tech placed second at 363.

Lenox was just behind Lee, in fourth place at 365. Next were Smith Academy (375), McCann Tech (390), Ware (396) and Mohawk Trail (502).

Lee coach Matt Carlino said he did not have a chance to see much of his No. 1 player on the Orchards layout, but that worked out well.

“I only saw him once, but I’m glad I didn’t,” Carlino said. “I don’t like to watch him. I know he’s going to be there at the end. He’s always going to be in the mix. … I never really worry about him. I was hoping for a 75 today, that was our goal, and he finished with a 77.

“He had a birdie putt on No. 9 that lipped out and fell off the bank a little bit, and he three-putted. So right there, that’s a two-stroke swing. He was playing solid, as usual. He’s just a solid, consistent player.”

On the other hand, Fraser said his round got a lift on the 446-yard, par-5 16th hole.

“Hole 16 is a short par-5, so I was going into it hoping for a birdie,” Fraser said. “I ended up getting one, so that definitely helped.

“I hit a good tee shot into right rough and hit a good 5-iron in, just over the brook, and it landed nicely on the green. And then just a two-putt from there.”

It was a bittersweet day for the Lee camp, which missed out on the state meet by a narrow margin for the second straight year.

A year ago at Wyantenuck, the Wildcats were six strokes away from qualifying as a team as Fraser went on to the state meet as an individual.

“It was just the inconsistencies that we fight all year,” Carlino said. “Our 2 through 6 guys just didn’t play as good as they did. … We thought we could go for the win.

“I thought 345, 350 could have been possible for this team. That may be a big goal, but I thought we could do it. I’m very happy for Thomas. We had a great year, and congratulations to Monson. They deserve it.”

Photos of this event here.


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