33rd Public Links Championship Preview
Some of the best players in Connecticut golfing history have played public golf, and the elite among them have won the Public Links Championship, now in its 33rd year. Although the best public golfer in the state’s history will be missing from this year’s tournament, the 2018 field is nonetheless formidable.
Five-time Champion Dave Szewczul, recovering from back surgery earlier this year, will not defend his title. But 2016 champion Kyle Nolin of Tallwood Country Club, 2015 champion Chet Hrostek of Oxford Greens and 2014 champion Glen Boggini of Manchester Country Club (fifth last year) will be there. So will Nick Waddington of Manchester, son of former Public Links Champion Derek Waddington, T2 last year, finishing one shot back with a bogey on the final hole.
Others in the hunt: Steve Gettings of Orange Hills Country Club, a quarterfinalist in 2016 Connecticut Amateur, who finished third in the Public Links that year— Gettings is a former member of the CSGA side in the Julius Boros Challenge Cup—and James Sheltman of Alling Memorial who was T6 in the Public Links last year and T18 in 2016.
Remember the Seniors
Several major senior titleholders will contend. Tom Brett, 2017 Senior Match Play Champion, and Bruce Kraczkowski of Blue Fox Run, who beat Szewczul to win the 2016 Senior Match Play, will both be there. So will Terry Ruzzo of Tallwood, a former Super Senior Champion. All made the 18-hole cut last year.
The Home Team
There are seven competitors from Timberlin in the field of 86: John Abbott, Brendan Burke, Todd Howes, Michael McCarthy, Jay Pulaski, Randy Rizy and Mike Sirois. Abbott was T19 last year and reached the quarterfinals this year in the Connecticut Amateur at the Country Club of Waterbury.
Timberlin Golf Club
Although the course has played host to numerous CSGA and USGA qualifiers, the 2018 Connecticut Public Links will mark the first CSGA major championship contested at Timberlin. The 1970 Al Zikorus design underwent extensive renovation under architects Stephan Kay and Doug Smith in 2006, covering bunkers, re-contoured fairways and the addition of a computer-controlled water irrigation system. Zikorus, a prolific Connecticut architect, was responsible for Tunxis Plantation, Heritage Village Country Club, Highfield Club, Rolling Meadows Country Club, Guilford Lakes Country Club and Stonybrook Golf Club among others. The course will play to 6,858 yards and par 72.
The Public Links Championship is a 36-hole stroke play championship. All players will play 18 holes on Tuesday, August 14th, with the low 30 players and ties advancing to the final round on Wednesday, August 15th. There is no age limit for the Public Links. Competitors must have handicap indices not exceeding 9.0 and have had no private club privileges since Jan. 1, 2018
The Connecticut Public Links Championship is one of more than 20 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.