Nick Maccario was standing on the first tee at Plymouth Country Club figuring that if he could sign the card right then, accepting a second-place finish, he probably would have.
The Haverhill native knows the feeling of being the runner-up, in second place, better than any top golfer in the Massachusetts amateur golf circuit.
Maccario finished in second place at the Mass. Amateur three weeks ago, the New England Amateur two weeks ago, and the Francis Ouiment Memorial last week.
He was tied for ninth with three other golfers in the final round of the summer’s final individual tournament, the 56th Hornblower Memorial. He was six strokes behind the lead in the two-day event.
But a strange thing happened in the Plymouth wind — at least strange considering his experiences the last month.
The man who had one of the greatest summers in recent state history, barely losing three tournaments (last hole at Mass. Am, sudden death at NE Am, and one stroke at Ouimet), shot the day’s best round, a 3-under-par 66, to beat out his good friend Chris Francoeur, a senior at URI, and the Ouimet champ two weeks ago, and Elon senior Max Ferrari.
“Trust me, the seconds have been great experiences,” said Maccario. “But nothing replaces winning.
“I had received a lot of text messages the last few weeks saying, ‘Almost there ... You’re gonna break through soon,’” said Maccario. “It was nice seeing ‘Congrats on the win.’ It was really nice.”
Maccario’s plan was to try to put some pressure on the leaders early, and he did, going three under par through eight holes.
Then the wind picked up. And so did the bogeys from the players in front of him.
On the 18th tee, Maccario was tied for the lead with Francoeur, who was teeing off the 17th at the time. Instead of “going for it,” Maccario decided to play smart, accept the par and watch Francoeur play the difficult final two holes.
Francoeur bogeyed the 17th hole and needed a birdie on 18, but missed a six-footer to force a playoff with his pal, Maccario.
“The thing is I played with Chris on Monday and he played the most impressive round of golf that I saw all year,” Maccario said of Francoeur’s 63. “I knew that if Chris played anything like that (on Tuesday) he couldn’t lose. But it was a tough day here, with the wind, and I played well.”
Maccario went home afterward and became a couch potato in his Waltham apartment. He intends to spend an inordinate amount of time there instead of the golf course the next few weeks.
“I’ve never been this tired,” said Maccario. “I’m really going to relax. I have a tournament with some friends, sort of a Ryder Cup thing next week and then I’ll take a week off and probably won’t hit any balls. Then in September, I’ll get ready for the Mass. Mid-Amateur, which is a great event.”
What’s it feel like to be a winner?
“It’s nice that I don’t have to wait until next year to win a big event,” Maccario said. “Everyone has been great to me, sending messages, giving me a boost. While I appreciate them, it’s nicer getting the ‘congrats’ messages.”