NOTEBOOK: Matt Parziale’s 66 puts him two strokes back after 36 holes.

By Bill McGrath [email protected] 49 min ago

LEWISTON — It’s been 20 long years since a mid-amateur player has won the Porter Cup.

To put that in perspective, from 1994 to 1998, three mid-ams wore the champion’s jacket: Allen Doyle (1994), John Harris (1997) and Gene Elliott (1998). And the only man to win three titles was another mid-am, Jay Sigel.

Halfway through the 60th Porter Cup at Niagara Falls Country Club, Matt Parziale is contending in his tournament debut. He is tied for third after a 4-under par 66 on Thursday, two strokes off the lead.

It should be no surprise, given that he played in this year’s Masters and was the low amateur in the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Course in June. He is the reigning Mid-Amateur champion.

“I’m having a blast,” he said. “It’s really a fun event, a really good golf course. We had a great time today. I really like playing with Scott (Harvey) and Garrett (Rank). We had a really good group.”

All three are career amateurs and Harvey is the most recent mid-am (25 or older) to make a serious run for the Porter Cup title when he tied for third two years ago.

Parziale, a 31-year-old fireman from Brocton, Massachsetts, said he usually plays in the New England Amateur because it is the same week as Porter Cup. “But I definitely wanted to play in this at least once and I’m having so much fun I think I’ll come back next year if they’ll have me.”

As for breaking the mid-amateur drought, the longest in tournament history, Parziale said, “It doesn’t matter. There’s more of them (college players) than us so there’s more opportunity. But it’s just golf. Go out there and just have fun. Compete. We’re only half way so there’s a long way to go.”

Porter Cup display

With 60 years of memories to work with the Porter Cup Executive Committee has arranged an attractive display of photos and memorabilia in the clubhouse.

There are photos of the directors and players from the early years, many of the star players of today who played here and a framed list of all the champions mounted on individual plaques.

Tiger Woods’ 1994 Porter Cup entry form and Bill Haas’ scorecard of his record 60 on July 24, 2003 are two of the more prized possessions.

But the most interesting of all is an email from Brooks Koepka, winner of the past two U.S. Opens who is fourth in the current world golf rankings.

The former Florida State competitor played in his first Porter Cup in 2009, but didn’t return in 2010. In an email to then-director Steve Denn in April 2011 he wrote:

“I just got a new phone and lost your number so I couldn’t call you. But I was wondering if I received an invitation this year to the Porter Cup. I have moved to a new address so if it was sent I haven’t received it. If I am on the invitation list, I would love to play. I hope to be in contact with you soon.”

Koepka received an invitation and tied for 48th with future Porter Cup champion Denny McCarthy. It was an improvement over his 64th place finish in 2009.

The Senior Porter Cup, directed by Fred Silver, also has a wall listing the champions going back to the days more than 40 years ago when it was called the Harvey Cup.

Big turnaround

What a difference a day made for Duke sophomore Qi Wen Wong of Singapore, who shot Thursday’s low round with a 7-under 63. That’s 13 strokes lower than his opening round and puts him at 1-under, tied for 15th.

“I think teeing off in the morning today the wind wasn’t as strong as it was yesterday. So that allowed me to go at pins a little bit more and help me with my club selection,” he said in explaining the big improvement.

He birdied the fourth, sixth and eighth holes to make the turn in 33, the lone bogey of the day coming at the par-4 fifth hole. He mastered the back nine in 5-under 30 with birdies at 10, 11, 12, 15 and 18.

“I had a couple of long birdie putts but even the long ones to save par were equally as good,” he said.

He said he has played in a few events this year, but none with as strong a field as the Porter Cup.