Kannegieser and Manuel Reach Match Play Finals
The afternoon’s first semifinal match was between James Frost, Jr. and Will Kannegieser. Frost kept up his fiery play from his morning quarterfinal, racing out with birdies on 1 and 3 to take an early 2 up lead. Kannegieser got one back with a birdie on the 5th and the two made the turn with Frost 1 up. The rest of the match was all Kannegieser, as the rising senior at Williams College won 10, 12, 13 and 15 to close out the match 3&2. This will be the second final in the Match Play Invitational for Kannegieser, having played in the last match at Brunswick GC in 2016 and losing to Matt Hutchins.
The other semifinal match featured 17-year old Caleb Manuel against Mike Aresenault, Jr. who raced through the field to reach the semis despite entering the tournament as the 31 seed. Their solid play this week came as no surprise, as both players entered this event coming off of recent success in the past few weeks. Manuel won the AJGA Coca-Cola Championship at Sugarloaf GC just last week, in addition to the Brunswick GC men’s and junior club championships. Arsenault, who just recently got back his amateur status after a short stint as a pro, had a strong showing in last week’s Charlie’s Maine Open and also won his club championship two weeks ago at Val Halla GC.
Like Frost in the match ahead, Manuel birdied 1 and 3 to take an early 2 up lead. The lead remained two at the turn for Manuel, who played solid all day and worked to not give any holes away. In the semifinal match he only made two bogeys, and while Arsenault played golf that was equivalent to 3-over par in stroke play, Manuel’s play was too steady and yielded a 4&3 victory for the rising senior at Mt. Ararat High School.
Both players will be playing tomorrow for their first MSGA individual major championship. While Kannegieser has twice won the Mixed Championship with his mother Kristin, a solo title has eluded him to this date. The 18-hole final will commence at 7:00 am tomorrow morning.
ONLINE: Match Play Bracket
Eight players returned to Point Sebago GC this morning to begin day two of the 2019 Match Play Invitational. In the first quarterfinal match, James Frost, Jr. played beautiful golf, and was three-under par when his match against former champion Joe Alvarez ended in Frost's favor, 4&3.
In match #2, another former champion in Ricky Jones fell to Will Kannegieser, 4&2. Kannegieser was the runner-up in 2016 at Brunswick GC when he lost to Matt Hutchins in the finals.
Match #3 saw the 31-seed Mike Arsenault, Jr. continue his torrid run through the bracket. Playing against Brian Bilodeau, Arsenault won the first five holes in what was looking like an easy victory. Bilodeau rallied and won the remainder of the front nine to turn only 1 down. After a see-saw battle on the back, Bilodeau looked poised to make a remarkable come-from-behind victory, but Arsenault birdied the par-5 18th to force extra holes. Surprisingly, this was the first match of the entire tournament to require extra holes. After exchanging pars on the 1st, Arsenault made par on the 20th hole against Bilodeau to advance to the semifinals.
The final match of the morning saw Caleb Manuel -- the youngest player in the field at age 17 -- up against Joe Hamilton. Manuel, who won the AJGA Coca-Cola Championship at Sugarloaf GC just last week, continued his solid play of late and defeated Hamilton 2&1 to advance.
Wednesday afternoon's semifinal matches:
James Frost, Jr. (8) vs. Will Kannegieser (5)
Mike Arsenault, Jr. (31) vs. Caleb Manuel (3)
Day 1 Notes:
The first two rounds of the Maine Match Play Invitational are in the books, and after 24 matches at Point Sebago GC, eight players remain and will keep playing on tomorrow morning in the quarterfinal matches. Two former champions are still alive (Joe Alvarez and Ricky Jones), while six players are looking to get their first win in this invitation event.
The Match Play features a 32-player field that is comprised of the top 16 finishers from the 2019 Maine Amateur Championship. The rest of the field is determined by players' finishes on the 2019 Player of the Year points table.
This single elimination event consists of five rounds, with two rounds being played on Tuesday and Wednesday before the final two players standing square off in the finals on Thursday morning.
Wednesday morning’s quarterfinal matches:
7:03 am: Joe Alvarez (1) vs. James Frost, Jr. (8)
7:12 am: Ricky Jones (13) vs. Will Kannegieser (5)
7:21 am: Mike Arsenault, Jr. (31) vs. Brian Bilodeau (10)
7:30 am: Caleb Manuel (3) vs. Joe Hamilton (6)