Spitz, Thorbjornsen go low at Massachusetts Amateur

NEWTON — If Round 2 of the 113th Massachusetts Amateur was moving day, one group was absolutely flying.

Ben Spitz posted a 6-under 66 to claim stroke play medalist honors at 136 (-8), while Michael Thorbjornsen fired a blistering 8-under 64 to tie the Brae Burn Country Club course record to finish a shot back at 137.

Spitz will be the top seed when the tournament moves to match play Thursday as the field was cut to the top-32 qualifiers, with the Round of 32 teeing off in the morning and the Round of 16 following in the afternoon.

The trio of Spitz, Thorbjornsen and Chris Francoeur combined to shoot 16 under playing together as Francouer’s 70 put him comfortably inside the cutline at even par.

Thorbjornsen was disappointed with his opening-round 73 but stayed aggressive and was more comfortable with the course the second time through after not getting in a practice round. His bogey-free, eight-birdie round matched the 64 shot by Nick Maccario at the 2019 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur.

It is the first Mass. Am appearance for the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, who lives just 10 minutes away in Wellesley.

“Yesterday, everything went wrong. Nothing was really going my way,” said Thorbjornsen. “I had a better idea of how to play the course and this is more of the score (I was expecting) than the other day. I know 8-under is a little bit of a stretch, but it’s a very gettable course with the par 5s and some short, drivable par 4s.”

Spitz, who at age 37 had quite a few years on his college playing partners Thorbjornsen (Stanford) and Francouer (Louisville), won the title in 2006 when at URI and was a quarterfinalist last year. He came in off a runner-up performance at the Mass Open.

His round took off after going birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie on Nos. 12-15, which was his first nine of the day.

“Game is good right now. Keep it in play off the tee and the short game is good,” said Spitz, who plays out of George Wright Golf Course. “Out of all the state tournaments, this is the one you want to win.”

Christopher Bornhorst shot 68 on his home Brae Burn course and Kyle Tibbetts matched him as both finished at 5-under 139 and in a tie for third. Christian Emmerich and Ricky Stimets each carded 67s after being over par the first day.

Among the notables to advance to match play was 15-year-old Ryan Downes (+2), a rising sophomore at Longmeadow and the youngest player in the field. Past champions Patrick Frodigh (-3), Matt Parziale (-2), and Frank Vana, Jr. (+2) all also made the cut.

Darkness fell before a 10-man playoff for the last seven match-play spots was completed. Andy Luther punched his ticket with a birdie on the first playoff hole, while Sean Fitzpatrick had a birdie and George Zolotas and Dan Head got through with pars on the second, and Mark Turner was eliminated with a double bogey.

Jack Boulger, Doug Clapp, Max Hutter, Colin Spencer and Alex Snickenberger all parred the third playoff hole and will resume their battle for the final three spots Thursday at 7 a.m.

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