Kelly wins Massachusetts Amateur

John Kelly after securing the 2014 Massachusetts Amateur Championship at Kernwood CC in Salem, Mass.

SALEM, Mass. – John Kelly turned his dream into a reality Saturday by winning the 106th Massachusetts Amateur Championship at Kernwood Country Club, defeating Doug Clapp by a score of 3 and 2.

“My name is on the trophy forever,” said the 25-year old Kelly following his victory. “Frances Ouimet won it here (in 1922) and that’s pretty cool company.”

Playing under perfect weather conditions, the only thing amateur about Kelly was his status. The word unbelievable is what many could use to describe his consistent play.

Entering the final match, Kelly had played 10-under-par golf through his previous 30 holes. Despite taking on the reigning MGA player of the year, Doug Clapp, Kelly was unflappable.

“I was a little nervous the whole time and especially on the first tee,” said Kelly. “Once we got started, I calmed down. And then when I got the 5-up lead, I got pretty nervous. I tried to stay in the moment and not think about what might happen.”

It all had started to happen for Kelly on the 418-yard, par-4 third hole. Both players failed to reach the green with their approach shots, but Kelly’s 25-foot chip from right of the green found the bottom of the cup. That shot gave him a 2-up lead and set the tone for the rest of the first 18 holes.

He would build up a 5-up lead through 17 holes and take a 4-up lead into the break after he made bogey on the 18th hole.

“I played pretty well on the first 18 to get that 5-up lead at one point,” said Kelly. “I made bogey on 18 to go to 4-up but I was still trying to stay positive.”

As expected, Clapp made an afternoon charge that would see him cut Kelly’s lead to just 1 up through the 25th hole. But Kelly all but sealed his victory on the 31st and 32nd holes.

With a 1-up lead, Kelly hit driver and 3 wood onto the 525-yard par 5 to set up his birdie putt, then, after finding trouble off the tee on the 32nd hole, drained a 40-foot par putt to halve the hole and secure a 3-up lead with four holes left to play.

“That was the biggest putt of the match to stay 3-up,” said Kelly. The match ended on the very next hole when Clapp could not win the hole and Kelly was told that his putt was conceded for the last time at Kernwood Country club.

“My legs are shaking still,” said Kelly, the amateur who played like a professional. “To win this is just unbelievable! Last Saturday I was playing in the Orchards four-ball, and a week later I’m the state amateur champion.

For John Kelly, dreams do come true.

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