---- — MARSHFIELD — For a record ninth time, Frank Vana, Jr., of Andover Country Club, can call himself a Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Champion.
Under perfect conditions at Marshfield Country Club, the nine-time Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year, who resides in North Andover, carded a tournament-low score of 5-under par 65 on Wednesday to post a remarkable six-stroke comeback. He finished with a three-round score of 1-under par 209.
It marks his ninth Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship victory and his 14th MGA Championship title. No other golfer in history has equaled those two marks.
“I honestly don’t think about it,” said Vana about his history-making performance. “I just wanted to come out here today and put together a good round and see what could happen. I am just happy to have posted a good score after what has been a season where I have felt like I played well but just didn’t post good numbers.”
While Vana, a native of Framingham who is in the Assumption College Hall of Fame, may consider a season in which he won two titles — the 2013 Worcester County Amateur and 2013 Western Mass Amateur — a disappointment, he has continued with each passing season to set new MGA records and establish himself as the most dominant golfer in the Bay State over the past two decades. In fact, he was named the MGA Player of the Decades for the 1990s and 2000s.
On this day, it took a herculean effort to not only catch two-day leader John Hadges (Thorny Lea GC) but also Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich GC) who entered the final round four strokes back. Clapp, who currently leads this year’s Player of the Year standings, posted a solid 2-under par 68 on Wednesday but suffered a bogey on the 18th hole which dropped him one shot back of Vana and denied him a chance at his first career MGA Championship title.
“I really felt good the last two days, but didn’t post good numbers again,” said Vana, who began the championship with a 4-over par 74 on Monday. “I woke up today and felt good and was more focused. I made two bad swings that resulted in bogies but otherwise I was making good swings and making some putts which is important.”