June 4, 2018: Evan Grenus of TPC River Highlands, the 2015 Connecticut Amateur Champion, shot five-under 30 on the front nine, 35 on the back, to lead all day-one stroke play qualifiers in the 116th Connecticut Amateur at the Country Club of Waterbury with 65.
Grenus played early, fighting intermittent rain, but made six birdies on the front, eight pars and a single bogey on the back. Fellow TPC member Nicholas Piersall was one of three tied second at (-1) 68. Ben Conroy of New Haven and Mike Shubley of Great River also shot 68.
The rainy, chilly conditions kept scores relatively high—only five players matched par, only 4 beat it—as lush rough often became the equivalent of a stroke penalty. “In some some spots you were just punching out and it took an up and down for par,” said Piersall, who just finished his freshman year at Central Connecticut State University and will transfer to Bryant University in Rhode Island next year in the wake of Central’s dropping its golf program.
“I think in general this is just a hard golf course,” he said. “You’ve got to hit a lot of shots. You have to fade it and draw it. You get shots below your feet, above you feet. The greens are a good speed, but they’re undulating.”
If the cut were made today, it would fall at 74, or five-over, to make match play. Besides Grenus three other former Amateur champions were in the field. Defending Champion Richard Dowling shot 72, Bill Hermanson 74 and Brian Ahern 76.
Heavy rain early moved tee times back half an hour. The first group went off at 7:45, Grenus about two hours later.
The Connecticut Amateur Championship is the oldest event conducted by the CSGA and one of the nation's oldest state amateur golf championships. The format comprises both match and stroke play: After two days of stroke play the low 32 players qualify for match play. Two rounds of match play each day culminate in a 36-hole final.
Richard Siderowf of Westport holds the record for the most Amateur victories at five, the last two coming in 1984 and 1985. He was also runner-up five times.
This is the 11th time that Waterbury has hosted the Amateur, the last in 2010. At 6,658 yards and par 69, with one par 5 and four par 3s, it can sometimes play, members say, like 18 par 4s.