Some of the top golfers in the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire are ready to hit the links for the ninth annual Joseph F. Healey Memorial tournament this weekend.

But one familiar name will not be among the 81 participants.

And it’s a pretty big name, too — three-time defending champ Nick Maccario.

After his second straight victory two years ago, event director Peter Doherty joked that “maybe we should rename it the Nick Maccario tournament.” His 10-stroke victory last year gave the Bradford Country Club member the most for any Healey competitor ever — surpassing good friend Joe Leavitt.

But, after this upcoming Sunday’s final round at Renaissance Golf Club, a new name will become a permanent addition to Healey lore. And make no mistake, without Maccario, this tournament is wide open.

Derry’s Eric Byrne and the Haverhill father-son duo of Shane and Troy Donahue — who all tied for second a year ago — are all returning in hopes of finishing one position better. Byrne is a former Pinkerton and UMass Lowell standout, while Troy Donahue just graduated from Haverhill High and was a two-time Eagle-Tribune All-Star. You may remember his father, Shane, as the great Greater Lawrence hoopster who was named Christmas Tourney MVP back in 1986.

But he’s got a lot of game on the course, too.

Shane Donahue was paired with Maccario and Michael Mottola, who is also returning, in last year’s final pairing.

Jared Tucker and Sean Bellemore, both former Tribune All-Stars at Haverhill High, are two names to keep an eye on, as is Thorny Lee Golf Club’s Shuvam Bhaumik, who had a top-5 finish two years ago. New Hampshire’s Mathew Gover is currently in the Round of 32 in the New Hampshire amateur championship, and could very well be in the mix this weekend.

Stalwarts Jim and Paul Healey will also be there teeing it up in honor of their late brother when the tournament starts at Atkinson Country Club on Friday morning.

Youth movement

The Healey is all about promoting and growing the game of golf in Joseph’s honor, and, with the amount of young talent in the field, that will continue to be the case this year.

And maybe one of these kids could win it, too.

Besides Donahue, reigning Eagle-Tribune MVP Josh Lavallee of Haverhill — a rising junior at Central Catholic — has returned to the field. In his first Healey tournament a year ago, he impressively finished in a tie for eighth. Fellow Tribune All-Star James Robbins of North Andover, a rising sophomore, is also among the field of 81.

With stalwarts and young-guns alike — and with the champ not around — it should be an exciting three days of golf.

Let the games begin.

 

Joseph F. Healey Memorial Schedule

Date     Course     First Tee Time

7/12     Atkinson CC     10 a.m.

7/13     Haverhill CC     12 p.m.

7/14 Renaissance GC 12 p.m. 

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