Links: Final Results
Evan Grenus, 17, of TPC River Highlands made just one bogey in the final match and was able to overcome an early deficit to defeat Max Theodorakis of Ridgewood Country Club and capture the 73rd Connecticut Junior Amateur Amateur Championship.
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship presented by Cobra Puma Golf is open to all Connecticut junior golfers who have not reached their eighteenth birthday by the start of the event. The challenging format tests the state's best junior golfers over a single round of stroke play to determine the low thirty-two match play qualifiers. Two rounds of match play each day culminate in an eighteen-hole final to crown the top junior player in Connecticut.
Both players began the 18-hole championship final seeking their first Junior Amateur championship. Grenus, who fired a four under-par round of 67 earlier in the week to claim medalist honors, was the Runner-Up in last year’s Connecticut Junior and was hoping to add his name to the record books. Only five players in the event’s extensive history had claimed medalist honors in qualifying and then went on to capture the match play championship.
Heading into the final match, Grenus had yet to reach the 18th hole in any of his matches. His closest match was his semifinal match against Nathaniel Dong of Tallwood Country Club on Wednesday, where he won by a margin of 2 and 1.
Theodorakis jumped out to an early lead in the match, taking a 1-Up lead after winning the second hole with a birdie. The two traded blows on the front nine- Grenus won the 5th and 6th holes with pars and Theodorakis won the 7th with a birdie to even the match.
However, the turning point in the match came at the par-4 13th. Trailing Grenus 1-Down, both players hit the green in two shots. First to play, Theodorakis aggressively knocked his birdie attempt six feet past the hole, and after failing to convert the par save, fell to 2-Down with just five holes to play. Grenus would go on to play holes #14-16 one under-par, and with a birdie on the 16th, sealed the 3 and 2 victory and his first CSGA Major Championship.
“The match today was definitely my closest match of the week," said Grenus. "I felt like the difference for me today was that I was really consistent out there and made a lot of pars. Out here, I feel like pars win holes, and that was my main focus.”
For Grenus, it was redemption after narrowly losing to Connor O’Brien in last year’s final. In that match, Grenus clawed his way back from 3-down after 3 holes only to lose on the 18th hole. This year would prove to be much different, as Grenus never reached the 18th hole in any of his five matches, defeating his opponents by seven, six, four, two and three (Up), respectively.
“After losing in the finals last year, to come back and win is a big relief," said Grenus. "It’s special for me that I was able to win this year in my last year as a junior.”
Grenus plans on competing in a handful of junior and amateur tournaments, including the 80th Connecticut Open Championship, before heading to Wofford College this fall where he will be playing on their Division I collegiate golf team.
“I’m really excited to go down to college this fall and see how my game compares to some of the best players around the country.”
With their appearance in the finals of the Connecticut Junior Amateur, both players automatically qualify to play on the New England Junior Team. Rhode Island will host the championship on August 18th-20th at Ledgemont Country Club, and Team Connecticut will be looking to win its sixth title in ten years.