Mike Kennedy of Mill River Country Club captured his first CSGA championship on Tuesday by winning the 30th Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship at Black Hall Club. Kennedy shot rounds of 72-77-69--218 (+5) and defeated Ben Conroy of New Haven CC and Raymond Floyd, Jr. of Innis Arden GC on the second playoff hole for the title.
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association and presented by the Lincoln Motor Company, the Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship is a 54-hole stroke play competition that was played at Black Hall Club on Monday and Tuesday, September 25th and 26th. 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.
After an opening round of 72 put him in the final group alongside round one leader Dan Murphy of H. Smith Richardson GC, Kennedy struggled to a second round 77 that put him six shots behind the leaders. But in a 36-hole finale on one of the state’s most difficult courses, Kennedy knew he still had a chance making a move in the final round.
“I played well in the morning round, but I was really disappointed with the finish,” said Kennedy. “I finished double-bogey, bogey, double-bogey to finish my round. But to be honest, I never thought I was out of it and just knew I had to keep grinding.”
Two birdies and a bogey on the opening nine of his final round put him well within striking distance and as the leaders began to falter, the gap began to close. But it wasn’t until the 18th tee that winning the Mid-Amateur became a true possibility. Carrying a three stroke advantage into the final hole, Ben Conroy made an untimely triple-bogey seven that brought him back to the field. Playing in the group behind, Kennedy saw what was unfolding and knew he had a chance at the title.
“I missed the green on #15, 16 and 17 and got up-and-down all three times and once I made the par putt on 17, I really thought I had a chance,” said Kennedy. “I saw [Conroy] hit a provisional on #18, but after that I just tried to focus on myself. Without a doubt the best two shots I hit all week were the approach shots into #18 from 190 yards in the rough.”
With a clutch closing par on the final hole, Kennedy found himself tied for the lead at five over-par alongside Conroy and Raymond Floyd, Jr., who held the lead through much of the final round until a pair of bogies on 17 and 18 dropped him to five over-par for the tournament.
After all three players made par on the first playoff hole, the trio headed to the par-3 9th. Unfortunate bogies by both Conroy and Floyd, Jr. left Kennedy with a tricky four foot putt for the victory. And as he had done all week, he calmly rolled in the par-saving putt to clinch the title.
For Kennedy, the win caps off his best amateur season to date. The thirty-three year old advanced to the semifinals at the Connecticut Amateur and made the cut at both the Russell C. Palmer Cup and New England Amateur. But as any competitive player will tell you, every season is filled with highs and lows. And for Kennedy, that low point happened just over one month ago.
“I played one of the worst tournament rounds of my life at the U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier back in August. I was feeling really down the next day, but I decided to refocus my attention winning the Connecticut Mid-Amateur. Ever since then, I’ve been telling myself that I was going to win the tournament. Even with all the highs and lows throughout the last two days, I never put my head down and just kept trying to win.”
Finishing in fourth place at seven over-par was Murphy, who bounced back from an early deficit and nearly caught the leaders late in the final round. Brent Dietz of Cedar Knob GC and Philip Perry of Black Hall Club rounded out the top five at eight over-par for the championship.
Many of Connecticut’s top amateur’s, including Kennedy, will look to make a bid at history when Team Connecticut takes on Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the annual Tri-State Matches. The matches, hosted by Connecticut, will be played on Thursday and Friday, October 12th and 13th at Silver Spring Country Club. Foursome matches are played on day one, followed by singles matches on day two, with scoring and results will be available on the CSGA website at csgalinks.org
About the Tournament: 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. 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.
About the Connecticut State Golf Association: The Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship is one of 18 championships 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.