Will Wilson of Wee Burn Country Club cruised to victory in the final match of the 76th Connecticut Junior Amateur, defeating 2016 Champion Andrew Franz by a score of 5 and 3. The state’s oldest junior amateur championship is presented by Cobra Puma Golf and Golf on the Green and was held July 10th – 13th at the 6,423 yard, par 71 course at Watertown Golf Club in Watertown, Connecticut.
At age seventeen, Wilson began the final match in search of capturing his first Junior Amateur title. After taking a 1 up lead heading to the eighth tee, Wilson was able to take advantage of some errant tee shots by Franz, winning four of the next five holes to take a commanding 4 up advantage with just six holes to play.
Franz made par on the 13th hole to close the gap back to three, but Wilson quickly answered by winning the difficult par-3 14th hole with a par. With Franz in trouble on the par-3 15th hole, Wilson was faced with a thirty foot downhill slider, needing just two putts to seal the victory. He put the exclamation point on the tournament, rolling the putt into the center of the cup for a 5 and 3 victory.
Coming into the week, Wilson had a simple game plan that is echoed so often by the player holding the trophy – fairways and greens. He executed his plan to perfection, missing just a handful of fairways throughout the tournament and hitting just four drivers in the final match.
“Knowing the course, I figured if I could par every hole, I’d likely win the match,” said Wilson. “I only hit four drivers today, so I was just trying to hit fairways and green and make my pars. I had a lesson from Debbie Donigar (GlenArbor Golf Club) leading up to the tournament and I hit the ball really well all week”
With his victory, Wilson becomes the first player from Wee Burn Country Club to capture the Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship.
“It’s really great,” said Wilson. “There’s been some great players out of Wee Burn and its nice to be the first person to win the Junior Amateur from my club. I just tried to stay calm and take it one shot at a time.”
Although he came up just short, Franz put on an impressive performance all week in defending his title. He entered the finals having won nine straight matches at Watertown Golf Club dating back to his victory last year, and was seeking to become just the tenth player in the seventy-six year history of the championship to defend their title.
“It was a bit of a struggle today,” said Franz. “I didn’t put myself in great positions off the tee, and that made it tough to hit it close. Will played steady all match and really didn’t give me any holes.”
For the first time in tournament history, eligibility for the Junior Amateur was expanded to include players ages eighteen and under, drawing the largest number of entries in recent memory. Wilson, a 2018 high school graduate, will have an opportunity to defend his title next year at Watertown Golf Club.
With their appearance in the finals of the Connecticut Junior Amateur, both Wilson and Franz automatically qualify to represent Connecticut on the New England Junior Team. Vermont will host the championship on August 14th – 16th at Manchester Country Club, and Team Connecticut will be looking to win its ninth title in sixteen years.
The CSGA is back in action July 17th - 19th, when it hosts the 52nd Connecticut Women’s Amateur Championship at Manchester Country Club in Manchester, Conn. Admission is free and spectators are encouraged to attend. For more information, visit CTWomensAmateur.com.
Road to Victory
Final Match (18-holes)
Will Wilson, Wee Burn Country Club def. Andrew Franz, Eclub of Connecticut, 5 and 3
Semifinals: Will Wilson def. Billy Nail (The Milbrook Club), 2 up
Quarterfinals: Will Wilson def. Tommy Dallahan (Hop Meadow CC), 5 and 3
Round of 16: Will Wilson def. Thomas Durkin (Suffield CC), 1 up
Round of 32: Will Wilson def. Austin Rupp (Suffield CC), 4 and 2
About the Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship presented by Cobra Puma Golf and Golf on the Green 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.