AUBURNDALE, Mass. –Maplegate’s Peter French fired a final-round 66 to come from five behind and claim the title at the 48th Annual Francis Ouimet Memorial Tournament. He finished three clear of GreatHorse’s Matt Naumec and Billy Walthouse, a Ouimet Scholar, from Longmeadow. The final round of the 54-hole event was contested at the only venue that’s ever hosted it, Woodland GC. The first two days took the venerable event to North Shore venues Essex County Club and Myopia Hunt Club.
French, a rising senior at Johnson & Wales-Miami, shared the first round lead with Bretwood’s (N.H.) Damon Salo after producing a 68. French stumbled a bit in the second round at Myopia Hunt Club with a 77, before becoming one of three players in tournament history to scorch Woodland with a 66, the lowest round ever recorded. French made the turn in 36 before embarking on a birdie binge, birdieing seven of his last nine holes to post a back nine 30. At the time, he stood one back of Naumec and 40 minutes later was giving a victory speech.
“I came into today with a number in mind, between 65 and 67,” French said. “Starting on the ninth hole I got into a really good frame of mind. It was really special to have my dad (Mike French) on the bag, he’s been with me quite a few times this summer. He’s always been there for me and to share this with him is special.”
In the Lowery Senior Division, Dennis Pines’ Kevin Carey became the third player in tournament history to repeat, joining Dick King (2012 and 2013) and Carter Fasick (2008 and 2009). Carey is also one of two players in OMT history to taste victory in both the Championship and Senior divisions. Carey closed with a final-round 72 to finish two clear of his final-round playing partners Elmcrest’s Jack Kearney and Dennis Pines’ Joe Walker II.
Carey, who battled injuries during last year’s win, has a special affinity for event he has won three times, including a Championship Division crown in 2000.
“I like playing three playing different courses,” Carey said. “You need to adjust to different green speeds and have a knowledge of all three courses. I did my best to prepare and it really paid off. It’s always special to take home a chair (traditional prize given to three Division winners).”
In the women’s division, Charles River’s Pam Kuong claimed the win with a 18-hole total of 75 to win by one over Hatherly’s Mary Mulcahy and Hartford (Conn.) CC’s Nathalie Filler. Kuong opened in 37 and came home in 38, playing the par 5’s at Woodland in two-under par.
“It was an honor to be invited to this prestigious event,” Kuong, winner of numerous WGAM titles, said. “I didn’t try to overswing and keep up with the high school and college kids. I played my game and putted pretty well. It’s great to win this event since it has such a rich history and elite field.”
OMT Notebook—French’s 66 ties for lowest at Woodland in the event’s 48-year history, joining Frank Vana, Jr. (1998), Larry Nuger (1998) and Joey Pohle (1999). French fell one short of positing the event’s low individual round. French’s 5-shot comeback fell one short of the tournament record for largest comeback, trailing 1972 champion Bill Mallon who stormed back from a six-shot deficit.