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June 14, 2013

Harmeling Strong: Wins one for Boston

Aspiring area pro donates Mass. Open winnings to Marathon victims

AUBURNDALE — Evan Harmeling lamented a while Wednesday night about the “what ifs?”

What if the round 2 leader was able to win the Mass. Open Golf Championship on Thursday? How could he spend the $15,000 first prize?

The Bay State found the answer yesterday, as the Princeton grad and aspiring pro out of North Reading and Andover Country Club prevailed in a three-hole playoff over his friend and fellow touring pro Chris Fitzpatrick.

The 24-year-old decided on the most magnanimous route.

Accepting the first-place trophy, Harmeling announced he would donate every penny to the “One Fund,” supporting the victims of the recent Boston Marathon bombing.

“I was talking to my dad and he brought it up. They can use it a lot more than me. That’s for sure,” said Harmeling. “I had read all about (PGA Tour pro) James Driscoll’s ‘Birdies for Boston,’ campaign. I guess I just wanted to do something, too.”

The victory is the biggest of Harmeling’s pro career, which began shortly after he graduated from Princeton.

Harmeling (69-70-72) and Fitzpatrick knotted at 5-under par after three rounds to force the aggregate score, three-hole playoff at the Woodland Golf Club.

In the playoff, Harmeling desperately saved par from a bunker, then went birdie-birdie to secure the title.

“It’s by far my biggest win, I mean you’re talking a very talented field out here,” said Harmeling.

Harmeling is off to a solid start in what he expects to be a loaded summer.

Success in the fall Canadian Tour Qualifying School means he’ll spend much of the summer above the border in the recently improved CanTour.

In addition, during the off weeks, he’ll be back in New England to play the full slate of state opens.

“I’m playing well at the right time,” said Harmeling, who was medalist in his Mass. Open qualifier. “And I’ve got enough money for the travel. This just seemed like the right thing to do.”

Among the other area players competing, North Andover amateur Frank Vana Jr. finished in a tie for 33rd at 4-over par for the 54 holes.

Windham Country Club assistant pro Marc Spencer was in a tie for 37th place at +5.

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