June 5, 2018 - Some players thought the greens were smoother. Others felt that the rough, minus yesterday’s rain, was less penal. Still others talked about how the wind was up and how that complicated things.
But Evan Grenus saw the same Waterbury Tuesday he’d seen Monday and played it almost the same way—masterfully.
“I really don’t think there was a difference between the course yesterday and today,” said Grenus. “The tees were similar, the pins were pretty generous and the rough was still long and tough.”
Grenus, the 21-year-old from TPC River Highlands and 2015 Amateur Champion, avoided that rough for the most part and added a (-2) 67 to his opening round (-4) 65 for 132, six under par, to take medalist honors in the stroke play portion of the 116th Connecticut Amateur at the Country Club of Waterbury Tuesday.
“I took a look at the scores though nine and saw that two 2-unders were sitting in the house and that there really wasn’t anyone else on the course threatening that, so I figured if I could hold it above two, I’d have a pretty good shot.”
That, after a somewhat shaky start. The college senior three-putted for bogey on the opening hole, made bogey on the difficult par-4 second, then righted the ship with a “big par” on the 233-yard, par-3 third. He played four under the rest of the way, making birdies on four par-4s: the 6th, 10th, 17th and 18th. As was the case Monday, he made no double-bogeys. Over the two days Grenus made ten birdies against only four bogeys.
Two players finishing at minus two were Nicholas Harrington, of the Golf Club of Windham, who shot 67 to go with an opening 69, and Rasmey Kong, of Wallingford Country Club, who shot 66 after a 70.
Though Waterbury to some extent shed its protective cover Tuesday—the half-inch of rain that delayed the start of play for half an hour Monday—the wind was tricker, across fairways on many holes, and an afternoon shower kept the long grass gnarly.
Scores were high. The cut fell at (+10) 148, with 9 playing off for the final 4 spots in the 32-man match-play field. Matt Camel of Round Hill Club and Drew Aitken of Connecticut National Golf Club birdied the first hole. Bryan Fitzgerald, Mark Gertsen, Brian Ahern and Bill Hermanson, continued to decide the final two spots, playing hole 16, where Fitzgerald was eliminated, and 17, where Gertsen was. Hermanson and Ahern, two former Amateur Champions, advanced to match play.
The relatively high scores did not surprise Kong. “It’s a tough driving course, a real ball-striker’s course,” he said. Both he and Grenus thought the match play competition would be not so much a contest of birdies as a commitment to par. “Out here, pars are going to win a lot of holes,” said Grenus. “So the plan is to go out and make as many pars as I can and a throw in a couple of birdies here and there.”
“Good old Waterbury,” said one of the late finishers looking over the scoreboard. “It’ll do it to you.”
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: The low 32 of a field of 123 have now qualified for match play. Two rounds of match play each day culminate in a 36-hole final on Friday.