Frank Vana 86 win 5th Ouimet Memorial Tournament
By Michael Whitmer
The Boston Globe
AUBURNDALE — There weren’t many anxious moments for Frank Vana Jr. yesterday, but standing on the 17th tee, nursing a three-shot lead, and waiting to see if his drive was in bounds or out of bounds certainly qualified. Vana, of course, is an Alumni-Athletics Hall of Famer at Assumption College.
Finally given the safe sign by an official, Vana marched down the fairway, made perhaps his most important par, and went on to win the Ouimet Memorial Tournament for a record fifth time. Vana, who began the day two shots behind, shot a 2-under-par 70 at Woodland Golf Club, which was good for a two-stroke victory over 36-hole leader Mike Dunham. Vana, of Marlboro Country Club, had rounds of 73, 72 and 70 for a total of 215.
“I was locked in, I was focused, I hit a lot of good shots, especially from the seventh hole in,” said Vana, also the Ouimet champion in 1998, 2001, 2002 and 2006. Nobody else has won it more than twice.
This one was extra special for Vana because it came with his father, 72 year-old Frank Vana Sr., caddying for him for the first time in 10 years.
Team Vana had its work cut out.
Still trailing by two shots heading to the back nine, Vana made his move with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 and a steady diet of mistake-free play. The only fairway and green he missed coming in was on the 17th, but that paved the way for the key sequence that clinched Vana’s victory.
After pitching out for his second shot on the par 4, Vana watched Dunham send his approach shot to less than 2 feet, a sure tap-in birdie. Faced with 83 yards for his third shot, Vana hit a wedge shot that settled 4 feet away. He holed the par putt, and his three-shot lead was sliced by only one stroke.
Dunham, a former NHL goalie, was in control through 10 holes, with a birdie on No. 6 offsetting a bogey at the third. But a poor chip on the 12th led to a bogey and, coupled with Vana’s birdie, bumped Dunham from the lead. Dunham bogeyed the next hole as well, fell two back and finished with a 74.
“This was the first time I’ve gone into the last day with the lead. It was a learning experience and a lot of fun,” said Dunham, who has only been playing competitive golf six years. “I hit two loose shots, and it cost me two bogeys. But I was happy with the way I bounced back and played coming in. Frank just played a little better.”
Jack Kearney, who made the decision on the first tee of the first round to play in the Eddie Lowery Division (for players age 50 and higher), never looked back, breaking par all three rounds (69-70-70) and winning the seniors competition by eight shots. Kearney is the only player to win both divisions; he captured the Ouimet in 1992.