Swampscott's Emmerich advances to Final 4 at Mass. Junior Amateur

·4 min read

Aug. 5—Just four players remain in the do-or-die match play bracket for the 104th Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship — and Swampscott's Aidan Emmerich is one of them.

Following a dazzling two-day performance in stroke play to open the tournament — a performance that saw Emmerich post a cumulative score of 7-under par — the Michigan State bound linksmen dispatched both of his Thursday opponents in 19-hole thrillers. He trailed by multiple holes in both bouts, only to grind his way through the balmy August weather and eventually come out on top.

Now Emmerich will head back to the tee at host Northern Spy Golf Club Friday at 8 a.m. for a chance to advance to the championship round later that day.

"It feels good, but hopefully I can win my first match (Friday) in shorter than 19 holes. I'm dead right now," an exhausted Emmerich said late Thursday afternoon. He's battled the heat all week after a similar tournament grind last week in the U.S. Junior Amateur.

"Hopefully I'm not down on the 18th tee again for both matches. I just need some rest right now and we'll see how it goes."

Despite the consecutive victories Thursday, Emmerich said he didn't play his best golf. After consistently ripping drives and cruising through stroke play with rounds of 67 and 66 to earn the No. 1 seed in match play, Emmerich had trouble off the tee in his two clashes. But he managed to clean things up around the greens, saving a number of pars to help him wear down his opponents.

In his first match of the day against Alan Rose of Oyster Harbors, Emmerich found himself down three through six holes. He rallied to win three of the next four holes and get it back to even. Rose then took a one-up lead through 12, and Emmerich won the 18th hole to force a playoff.

On the decisive 19th hole he made a sneaky good par while Rose made bogey, allowing Emmerich to move on to the quarterfinals about 40 minutes later.

"I didn't have my swing off the tee; everything just felt a little uncomfortable for some reason, which on this course is so bad," said a modest Emmerich, who still shot a 72 in his opening win. "But on the ninth hole I drove the green (about 305 yards) and made the putt for eagle. That gave me some momentum, and I think (Rose) was getting a little loose."

His 18th hole was perhaps his most clutch one of the day.

"I was stuck under a tree and hit a hook wedge from about 110 (yards) out and got it to 20 feet," he said. "(Rose) bladed his wedge over the green, so I won that one pretty easily. Then I had a tap in for par on the playoff hole and he missed his par putt."

In the afternoon quarterfinal round against Kittansett Club's Markus Pierre, Emmerich won in similar fashion. He fell behind by as many as three through 11 holes, only to win the next three and eventually prevail with wins on 18 and the playoff hole yet again.

"I felt pretty good for like 12 or 13 holes, but (Pierre) was playing very well. I was down three through 11 and I was 1-under at the time," he said.

"On the back I was just winning with pars, and I think he was getting gassed a bit. I was just putting it in front of me and at least trying to get a putt for birdie, but we were both dead after 13 holes. At one point we looked at each other and were like, 'we have no idea who's going to win this match'," Emmerich continued. "I was fortunate."

Emmerich will have minimal time to regroup for Friday's semifinal against Weston Golf Club's Zach Pelzar. But if Thursday's gutsy outings are any indication of what's to come, it will be tough to bet against him. Dedham Country and Polo Club's John Broderick and Northern Spy's Josiah Hakala are the other two players remaining, with the winner of each match facing off later on Friday for all the marbles.

Contact Nick Giannino at NGiannino@Salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickGiannino_SN.

Contact Nick Giannino at NGiannino@Salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickGiannino_SN.