David Olender of Ellington Ridge Country Club fired a four under-par round of 68 to lead after the first round of the 27th Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship. He leads by two shots over Chris Maxwell of Tunxis Plantation heading into the final day.
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship is a 54-hole stroke play competition being played at Hop Meadow Country Club on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 19th and 20th. The championship is open to bona fide members of a CSGA club who are twenty-five years of age and over by the start of the tournament.
Eighty-two players made their way around the 6,788 yard, par-72 layout at Hop Meadow Country Club, with Olender firing 68 to grab the overnight lead. After opening his round with an even-par 36 on the front nine that featured an eagle on the par-5 6th and two bogies on #1 and 7, Olender began his march up the leaderboard. He put together a pair of birdies on the 13th and 15th holes, and made his second eagle of the day on the par-5 17th to catapult him to four under-par for the championship.
Olender’s best finish in the Mid-Amateur Championship came back in 2006, where he finished in a tie for fourth place just four shots behind eventual champion Jeff Hedden. At age 46, he will be seeking to capture his first CSGA major championship when he begins his second round. Both the second and third rounds will be contested on Wednesday, August 20th, with the low 54-hole total claiming the trophy.
Among the players chasing Olender include Kevin Foster, the 1998 Connecticut Mid-Amateur Champion who will be looking to capture his second title on his course, and Chris Maxwell of Tunxis Plantation Country Club, who fired a round of two under-par 70 that included three consecutive birdies on holes #4-6. In the mix just three shots back are Randy Rizy of Timberlin GC, Chris Flowers of H.S. Richardson, Matthew Holub of Orange Hills Country Club and Philip Perry of Black Hall Club. Among the group, Perry has arguably the most experience in the Mid-Amateur, having finished second in last year’s championship and third in the 2012 Mid-Amateur, which was also held at Hop Meadow CC.
This year’s starting field of eight-two players was trimmed to the low thirty-six players, plus ties after the first round. At day’s end, the cut line fell at 77 (+5) with a total of 47 players making the cut. Among the notables to make the cut included Ivan Lendl of Torrington Country Club, former world #1 professional tennis player, who shot 77 to advance to the final day on the number.
With 36-holes remaining, plenty of CSGA past champions will be looking to make a big move up the leaderboard when play begins tomorrow. Among the notables making the cut included Jack Bracken, 2013 Senior Amateur Champion (72), Brent Dietz, 2013 Public Links Champion (74), Dave Szewczul, 1996 Mid-Amateur Champion & five-time Senior Player of the Year (75), and Tom McCarthy, the 2009 Russell C. Palmer Cup Champion & 2012 Public Links Champion (77).
The Connecticut Mid-Amateur dates back to 1981, when the USGA inaugurated its first new championship for amateurs in four years, the U.S. Mid-Amateur. The Mid-Amateur, for amateur golfers of at least 25 years of age, was instituted as a formal national championship for the post-college amateur. Before the arrival of the Mid-Amateur, the post-college player could compete in the Amateur Championship, sometimes successfully, but these older amateurs faced greater odds. While they fit their golf around their work and families, they were most often competing against college golfers, for whom the game is close to a full-time activity.
Seven years after the birth of the U.S. Mid-Amateur, the CSGA instituted its first new championship in six years with the inaugural playing of the Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship in 1988 at Shennecossett Golf Course, won by Daniel Hendrickson.
The second round begins tomorrow at 7:30 a.m., with competitors playing 18-holes in the morning followed by the final round in the afternoon. Live hole-by-hole scoring and updates will be available online at CTMidAm.com.