East Haddam—The kids aren’t going away.
A lot of things got settled at the 117th Connecticut Amateur on Wednesday, and that was thing one.
Not only did four teenagers survive a rain-delayed stroke-play qualifying and make match play at Fox Hopyard Golf Club, they won their first matches and will play tomorrow to advance to quarterfinals.
Matthew Chorches of Hartford, 19, 2018 Junior Amateur Champion Connor Belcastro, 18, Daniel Hand sophomore Matt Doyle, 16, and Darien Junior Calvin Smith, 17, were all winners. Another, Jackson Roman of Shuttle Meadow, did not survive only because he played one of the youngsters, keeping his match against Doyle alive until the 16th hole by, among other things, driving a 384-yard par 4 and making a 50-foot putt for eagle two. No typos there.
If the youth brigade could advance tomorrow, they’ll play Friday morning in the semis and have a chance to make an 18-hole final on Friday afternoon, a marathon of golf that will be slightly shortened this year.
The Connecticut Amateur traditionally ends in a 36-hole final. But due to Tuesday’s 5 hour 20 minute rain delay, which extended stroke-play qualifying until Wednesday it was to decided to shorten the final and give Fox Hopyard back to its members, as planned, on Saturday.
When second rounds were completed at about noon, another young player, Chris Ayers, an Old Dominion junior, was medalist at 70-68-138 (-4) the only qualifier in red numbers. Ayers, who played his college golf in a Midland, Texas junior college before transferring to ODU, said it was a big deal for him to win the Robert M. Grant Medal.
“This is huge for me. That was my goal, to be the No. 1 seed,” said the energetic Ayers, who grew up playing at Wethersfield C.C. and now plays at Goodwin Golf Club. “I’m not really known in my home state because I took up the game kind of late and had to go to a juco to play. “Yeah, I kind of wanted to make a little statement.” He made that statement by making nine birdies over the two days against only five bogeys. Tied early in the round with yesterday’s leader, Brian Zito of Black Hall Club, he overtook Zito and the rest of the field with a second round of 34-34-68 (-3).
But Ayers suffered from a very tough draw, meeting James Sheltman of Alling Memorial, a contender in nearly every CSGA individual championship last year and a member of the winning Tri-State and Challenge Cup teams. Sheltman, the 32 seed at +9, a cut that necessitated no playoff, dispatched Ayers in the first round, 4 and 2, giving the “kids” an indication of what they’ll be up against:
Richard Dowling, the 2017 Champion, survived his first match against Jeffrey Clang of Connecticut National Golf Club, by the same score 4 and 2.
Other "Mid-Ams" who pose a threat to the young guns:
Ben Day, the 2017 Palmer Cup Champ, who outlasted 1991 Connecticut Amateur Champion Bill Hermanson, who took him to the final hole, 2 up.
Patrick Griffin, 2018 Tournament of Champions winner from Indian Hill Country Club, who defeated Anthony Guerrera of Watertown Golf Club, 2 and 1.
Jason Jaworski of Shorehaven, who beat Randy Rizy of Timblerin, 2 and 1.
Finally, there is the UConn Two, Chandler Morris of C.C. of Waterbury, who finished third at this year’s Palmer Cup and Junior Finn Boynton, who finished with an eagle and three birdies in his last five holes to beat Fox Hopyard “hometown” favorite Justin Beal, 3 & 1.
Tommorow’s matches, which will begin at 7:30:
Sheltman v. Belcastro
Dowling v. Jaworski
Griffin vs. Seth Egnasko of Wintonbury Hills
Clifford Lindholm of Great River v. AJ Sanzaro of Wethersfield
Morris v. David Renski of Wheeler Park G.C.
Day v. Chorches
Smith v. Chris Delucia of Norwich G.C.
Doyle v. Boynton