October 04, 2011 | By TOM YANTZ, email@example.com, The Hartford Courant
MERIDEN — — Dave Szewczul's Connecticut Public Links Championship Tuesday was his third major title in the past 13 days.
"It has been like a dream," said Szewczul after carding an even-par 70 at Hunter Golf Club.
His 2-under 138 was three strokes better than first-round leader Ryan Leahey (65-76—141). Rob Tedoldi Jr. (76-70) and Manny DaSilva (71-75) tied for third at 146.
Szewczul, who plays out of Tunxis Plantation Golf Course in Farmington, was the only player in the 80-man field to shoot under par on the 6,340-yard course. His day was capped by a birdie on the last hole, and he added this title to the New England and Connecticut Senior Amateur titles. Szewczul is the first player in the modern era to win three consecutive major championships on the Connecticut State Golf Association schedule.
"I've never won three titles in three weeks," said Szewczul, 57.
The Connecticut Public Links title was his fourth; he had won in 1992, '93 and '95.
Playing in sporadic rain Tuesday, Leahey (Orange Hills CC) was 1-over par through 11 holes, but still led Szewczul by two strokes. Leahey bogeyed 12 and 13. Szewczul bogeyed 14, and Leahey still had a one-shot advantage.
The tournament turned when Szewczul hit a brilliant 7-iron from a "squishy" lie in the rough to within 4 feet of the pin on no. 15. "That was a great, great shot," Leahey said.
Szewczul made birdie to tie Leahey. Szewczul bogeyed 17, but bogeys by Leahey at 16 and 17 left him one shot behind, going to 18.
Szewczul then hit an impressive 231-yard, 3-wood approach on the par-5 finale to within 20 feet. "I was standing in casual water in the fairway, but I had a perfect lie," he said. "It was a perfect yardage. I felt comfortable, and the shot came out perfectly."
Leahey pushed his second shot wide of the green. "I knew I had to make eagle because at worse Dave was going to two-putt for birdie, and I just came out of it," he said.
Leahey wedged to the green, but then three-putted from 15 feet for a bogey.
"On the front nine I was making 3-footers to save par, but on the back I had a hard time with the greens," Leahey said. "The greens were slow with all this rain we've had. I just couldn't get used to the speed. I'm disappointed with my finish. I knew Dave was going to be steady and not make mistakes. And I made too many to win this."