Sean Gaudette of The Course at Yale carded a one under-par round of 71 to grab the overnight lead of stroke play qualifying at the 112th Connecticut Amateur. The state’s most prestigious amateur championship is being conducted June 16th - 20th on the North and South Courses at Lake of Isles in North Stonington, Connecticut.
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Connecticut Amateur Championship is one of the nation’s oldest state amateur golf championships. The challenging format tests the state's best amateur golfers over two rounds of stroke play to determine the low thirty-two match play qualifiers. Two rounds of match play each day culminate in a thirty-six hole final to crown the top amateur player in Connecticut.
One hundred eleven players began their quest for a coveted thirty-two spots in match play. This year’s Connecticut Amateur Championship marks the first time that the tournament will be conducted on two different courses, with competitors playing the North Course on Monday followed by the South Course on Tuesday.
Founded in 2005 by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Lake of Isles is located across the street from the Foxwoods Resort Casino. Renowned Golf Course Architect Rees Jones designed both courses that wind their way through nine-hundred acres of wooded Connecticut countryside, and around a 90-acre lake, appropriately named "Lake of Isles. Both courses play to a par of 72 and stretch to nearly 6,900 yards, testing the players with dramatic elevation changes and a set of deep, cavernous bunkers.
Gaudette, who was playing the course for the first time, fired the only under-par round of the day. Teeing off in the afternoon wave, he faced a swirling wind that gusted to near 20 mph, and matched four birdies with just three bogies.
“I got off to a pretty good start and made a nice pair of birdies on the 2nd and 5th holes," said Gaudette. "The wind really picked up on the back nine and the greens got pretty quick, so I was just trying to make sure I hit the fairway and kept it below the hole. It was my first time seeing the course, so I’m pretty happy that I was able to keep it out of trouble all day.”
Gaudette will be seeking to capture the R.M. Grant Medalist Honor and the overall number one seed when he begins his round on Tuesday. His previous best finish in the Connecticut Amateur was in 2010 at Race Brook Country Club, where he advanced the Round of 32 in match play.
Trailing Gaudette by just a single stroke is Dave Szewczul of Tunxis Plantation Country Club, the 1978 Connecticut Amateur Champion. Known for is steady play off the tee, Szewczul made just two bogies on his round, matched with a pair of birdies on the 6th and 10th for an even-par round of 72.
“I felt like I played pretty solid today,” said Szewczul. “My distance control was good and I hit a lot of greens, but I just missed a few makeable putts and my speed was a little off. Overall though, I’m pretty pleased with my round. My ball striking was very good and I hit a lot of fairways today, and that’s what you have to do out here.”
A member of the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame and one of Connecticut’s most storied amateur players, Szewczul is fresh off collecting his first win of the 2014 season. Just two weeks ago, he claimed medalist honors at the 8th Senior Match Play Championship and went on to dominate the match play portion of the tournament, eventually defeating Jon Groveman by a score of 2-Up to win his third straight title and fourth overall.
Tied with Szewczul at even-par is Chris Pavelic of Round Hill Club. Pavelic had perhaps the most eventful round of any competitor in the field. After starting his day at two over-par through four holes, he strung together three straight birdies on Holes #5-7 and shared the lead through the front nine.
Even a pair of bogies on Holes #12 and #14 didn’t fluster Pavelic, who promptly bounced back with an improbable chip-in eagle on the 557-yard par-5 15th, a hole that played straight into the prevailing wind.
“The course was definitely playing hard and I got off to a bad start, but I bounced back pretty well” said Pavelic. “The key point for me was definitely the chip-in eagle on #15. I hit a hybrid from 240-yards pin-high to the right and hit a great pitch shot that went in.”
What’s in a Cut?
Following Tuesday’s round, the low thirty-two players will advance to match play. After day one, there are 31 players at 76 (+4) or better, with another 11 players just one shot back. A playoff to determine the last spot(s) in match play will begin immediately at the conclusion of Tuesday’s round at approximately 6:00 p.m.
Dave Szewczul, Tunxis Plantation CC (1978 Amateur Champion) – 72 (Even)
Branden Chicorka, EClub River Valley (2011 Russell C. Palmer Cup Champion) – 73 (+1)
Jacob Henny, Oak Hills Park GC (2013 Met Public Links Champion) - 73 (+1)
Monte Mullen, TPC River Highlands (2014 Russell C. Palmer Cup Runner-Up) - 73 (+1)
Alex DiClemente, Fairview Farm GC (2009 Connecticut Junior Champion) - 73 (+1)
Kevin Josephson, CC of Farmington (2013 Dick Tettelbach POY Runner-Up) – 75 (+3)
About the Connecticut State Golf Association
The Connecticut Amateur Championship is one of 18 championship tournaments conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association. The CSGA functions as an extension of the USGA and provides stewardship for amateur golf in Connecticut. Founded in 1899, it is the country's oldest state golf association and conducts over 50 Championships, Qualifiers and One-Day Tournaments throughout the year. For more information, visit our website at csgalinks.org.