McLaughlin First, Murphy Second at Western Mass Championships

By Stephen Sports
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- With temperatures in the 40s, wind and the occasional cloudburst, it is fair to say none of the golfers at Monday's Western Massachusetts Division 2 Championship had a great day.
And that includes the tournament's medalist, Wahconah's Pat McLaughlin, who did a better job battling the elements than most and carded a 3-over-par round of 75 to claim the individual title and a berth in next week's State Championship.
"The conditions were tough," McLauhglin said after edging a group of three golfers, including Taconic's Nate Murphy, who tied for second at 4-over.
"It was freezing. It was pouring for four or five holes. The ball wasn't traveling as far as usual. But everyone had the same conditions. Everyone was playing the same thing."
Leominster won the team title with a score of 36-over at Berkshire Hills Country Club. The champs were led by Luke Grebinar at 5-over.
Southwick was three strokes back in the team competition, the only team with three players who finished in the single digits against par.
Oakmont finished 46-over to claim third place and the third team slot in the state tourney, slated for Oct. 26 at Sandy Burr Country Club in Wayland.
McLaughlin and Wahconah just missed a team trip to states. It finished at 47-over, one stroke behind Oakmont.
McLaughlin’s day got off to an inauspicious start.
Teeing off on the first hole, he made bogey on the 390-yard par-4. After rebounding with three straight pars, he bogeyed three of the last five holes on the front to make the turn at 4-over 39.
“My putting was a lot better on the back,” McLaughlin said. “My putting on the front was disappointing. But I had some good up-and-downs on the back, and everything was just kind of going where I wanted to go.
“I was behind my [playing partners] by two or three strokes [at the turn]. I wasn’t playing that well. But I came out and had a birdie on 11 that was a momentum switch for me. … I hit my driver good in the fairway, put my approach shot to like 4 feet and made the birdie. That was big.”
The birdie on the 364-yard, par-4 11th was the start of an eventful run for McLaughlin, who bogeyed twice before making birdie on the par-4 14th and par-5 15th to get his score down to 3-over for the round.
Murphy, who went 2-over at Berkshire Hills just more than a week ago to claim the Berkshire Classic, started Monday with a bogey on the 533-yard, par-5 second hole. Still, he was just 1-over going into the second half of his round. A double bogey on the 382-yard, par-5 15th ended up being the difference between a tie for first with his Berkshire County rival and a runner-up spot.
“I just didn’t make enough putts to win the tournament,” Murphy said. “If I did that, I feel like I would have wiped the field away. I really do.
“My last few holes coming in, down the stretch, it was rainy, cold, windy. I just stuck through it and wanted to get myself into States, which I did. … I”ve always wanted to get to States, play there, compete, play the best I can. And we’re gonna do that next week.”
So will McLaughlin, who started the fall season still recovering from a bout with Lyme disease that kept him off the golf course until August.
“I’m just really excited, I’m looking forward to [States],” McLaughlin said. “It was a rough year, so just being where I am now, I’m happy with the way I played today. I hope I can bring it to states and see what happens there.”
Team Scores (top four individuals count to team score)
1. Leominster, plus-36
2. Southwick, plus-39
3. Oakmont, plus-46
4. Wahconah, plus-47 (Pat McLaughlin, plus-3; Brady Breitmaier, plus-9; Timmy Kaley, plus-12; Sam McLaughlin, plus-23; Carter Drake, plus-27; Nicolas Salinetti, plus-53)
5. Belchertown, plus-48
6. St. Bernard’s, plus-50
T-7. Pope Francis, plus-55
T-7. Tantasqua, plus-55
9. Quabbin, plus-59
10. Hampshire, plus-69
11. Taconic, plus-76 (Nate Murphy, plus-4; Camdyn McKillop, plus-10; Cam Laferriere, plus-24; Jackson Molleur, plus-38; Dom Hall, plus-45).
12. Hopkins, plus-128
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