Summer Links: Western Mass. boasts a PGA winner as Werenski captures title

  • Richy Werenski, of South Hadley, watches his tee shot on the 14th hole during the final round of the 3M Open in Blaine, Minn., on July 26. Werenski won the Barracuda Championship a week later on Sunday. AP FILE

Published: 8/3/2020 4:46:39 PM
Modified: 8/3/2020 5:26:20 PM

One week after hovering near the top of the leaderboard at the 3M Open, South Hadley’s Richy Werenski became a winner for the first time on the PGA Tour over the weekend.

Werenski scored seven points on his final three holes on the Old Greenwood Course at Tahoe Mountain Club in Truckee, Calif., to defeat 54-hole leader Troy Merritt by a single point at the Barracuda Championship — a modified Stableford scoring event where five points are awarded an eagle, two a birdie, none a par and minus-one for a bogey, which can create confusion for those following the tournament.

At the 3M Open, Werenski led for a good chunk of the tournament before settling for third place. He came from behind at the Barracuda, as the 28-year-old Georgia Tech graduate trailed by six points but holed his second shot for eagle at the par-4 16th, a five-pointer that left him a single point back of Merritt. And on the par-4 18th, Werenski holed a 15-foot birdie putt worth two points to take a one-point lead. He survived a missed putt by Merritt on 18 to snag his first-ever PGA win.

“It’s huge,” Werenski told Golf Digest of the victory, which earned him a two-year exemption on tour, as well as a start in the PGA Championship this week in San Francisco. “I’ve been playing well for the last couple of months. It helps my confidence a lot. I know I’m good enough.”

Werenski, who played out of The Orchards during his youth days, broke into the big time in 2015 when he won Golf Channel’s reality show, “The Big Break.” His trip to the PGA Championship this week will be his second time competing in the major event. He missed the cut in his debut last year.

53rd Ouimet Memorial

I mentioned in this space a week ago that Bradford Country Club’s Nick Maccario was having an outstanding stretch on the amateur circuit, but wasn’t able to capture a win. He was the runner-up in both the 112th Massachusetts Amateur and the New England Amateur one week later.

Well, that list of second-place finishes grew again last week. For the THIRD week in a row, Maccario nabbed runner-up honors in a Mass Golf event. This time it was the 53rd Ouimet Memorial Tournament, played at Framingham Country Club and Woodland Golf Club. The event, named in honor of former U.S. Open champion Francis Ouimet, saw Maccario card rounds of 73, 67 and 66, good enough for a three-round total of 9-under-par 206. Amesbury’s Chris Francoeur was one stroke better however, as his 10-under total was just enough to score the win.

South Deerfield’s Jacob Zaranek finished 32nd overall, posting rounds of 74-75-81 for a three-round total of 15-over 230. He made the cut by two strokes, as the field was trimmed after the second round of competition. Northfield’s Jesse Morgan shot 80-81 and missed the cut.

U.S. Women’s Am underway

North Easton’s Shannon Johnson, who plays out of Thorny Lea Golf Club in Brockton, is the lone Massachusetts representative in this week’s 120th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. The event, which began on Monday, is being played at Maryland’s Woodmont Country Club.

Johnson, who tees off this morning at 8 a.m. for her second round, will try and make the cut into the top 64 following today’s action for a spot in match play. The event will be televised beginning on Wednesday, with Golf Channel handling coverage of match play from 4-7 p.m.

Blanchard’s ace

One of the highlights of last month’s 75th Invitational Four-Ball at the Country Club of Greenfield came in a Fifth Flight match.

Casey Blanchard carded his first-ever hole-in-one at the par 3 11th hole, competing in a semifinal match with partner Cam Merrigan. Blanchard used a 5-iron from 190 yards out, and the ball tracked the pin all the way, bounced once and rolled in. In match play against Tim Joncas and Tim Gerges, it was quite a way to win the hole.

Blanchard and Merrigan went on to win the match, then defeated Paul Barnard and Jeff Jackman in the final to capture the Fifth Flight title.

On deck

The Mass. Junior Amateur is currently taking place at Cranberry Valley Golf Course in Harwich. The event is for golfers ages 14-18.

The 39th Mass. Amateur Public Links Championship is next week, beginning Aug. 10 at Lynn’s Gannon Golf Club. Jacob Zaranek, Andy Lesenski, Ryan Cote, Jason Kelton, Mark Waskiewicz, Keith Burch, Michael Mertes and Ron Laverdiere are among the locals in the field. It’s an event that Franklin County duffers have fared well in over the years, so expect a couple of players from that group to be in the mix.

PGA Tour picks

Last week’s pick of Viktor Hovland looked good after Round 1 of the FedEx-St. Jude Invitational, as he was 3-under and right in the mix. It didn’t go so well after that, and Hovland ultimately finished in a tie for 59th, well behind winner Justin Thomas.

We’re back for a rebound performance this week. I’m expecting Rory McIlroy to be there at the end of the weekend, and while he doesn’t provide a ton of betting value at +1400, he’s my guy. If you’re looking for a darkhorse, I’ll go with Daniel Berger at +5000.

Jeff Lajoie is the sports editor of the Recorder. He can be reached at

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