A blistering four under-par round of 67 has put Jacob Henny in control at the 32nd Public Links Championship presented by the Lincoln Motor Company, giving him a two shot lead heading into the final round.
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Connecticut Public Links Championship is a 36-hole stroke play competition that honors the true spirit of public golf in the state. The Public Links Championship is open to Connecticut amateur golfers who have been bona-fide public course players since the start of the calendar year. The 32nd Public Links Championship is being contested on the 6,228 yard, par-71 layout at Norwich Golf Course.
“I came into today hoping to play well, but I haven’t played well in a tournament in a while so it feels really good to put a good round together,” said Henny, who birdied two of his final three holes to grab the overnight lead. “I had a good game plan going into today and stuck to it.”
Henny wasted no time in his opening round, making birdie on the first hole and eagle on the par-5 fifth, and closed with a bogey-free 32 on the inward nine for a four under-par total.
“I feel like the course really suits my game,” said Henny. “I’m typically a very good short iron and wedge player, and usually a good putter. You really have to think about where you hit it off the tee and don’t need to hit driver every hole, so that suits my game really well.”
A win on Thursday would be Henny’s first CSGA championship, but it wouldn’t be his first Public Links title. Henny won the Metropolitan Public Links Championship in 2013 at Richter Park, shooting rounds of 70-71—141 for a three shot victory.
“It’ll be really fun to be in that position [with a lead] tomorrow,” said Henny. “I haven’t been there in a while - a chance to win is why all of us play competitive golf”
Henny holds a two stroke advantage over Nick Waddington of Manchester CC, who is seeking to capture his first piece of CSGA hardware. Despite a slow start that left him three over through his first eleven holes, Waddington rattled off five birdies in his next six holes including four birdies in a row on holes #14-17. The closing 32 catapulted him into contention as he hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father, Derek Waddington, who won the CT Public Links in 1999 at Richter Park.
Sitting in a tie for third place are Dave Szewczul (Tunxis Plantation CC) and Hector Gutierrez (Great River GC), a pair of players whose record in CSGA events could not be more opposite. Szewczul, who was inducted into the Connecticut Hall of Fame in 2010, has won the Connecticut Public Links four times and has won a record seven CSGA Senior Player of the Year titles.
On the other hand, today marked Gutierrez’s first CSGA event. The rising junior at Sacred Heart University resides in Boca Del Rio, Mexico and is playing the Public Links as a tune-up before the collegiate season begins in just a few weeks.
“I really like the course,” said Gutierrez. “The greens are small and the tee shots are demanding, which really suits my game. You have to place the ball off the tee and be precise with your approaches.”
Gutierrez will join his teammate Henny in the final group, and will certainly find some comfort despite the pressure of trying to win the Public Links in his first attempt.
Among those within striking distance include five players tied at even-par, just four strokes behind the lead. David Jones (Mohegan Sun CC), Steve Gettings (Orange Hills CC), 2014 CT Public Links Champion Glen Boggini (Twin Hills C), Josh Cameron (Norwich GC), and 2007 CT Senior Amateur Champion Richard Stevens (Eclub of Connecticut) all shot rounds of even-par 71.
This year’s starting field of ninety-eight players was trimmed to the low thirty competitors, plus ties, following the conclusion of the first round, with a score of 76 or better required to make the cut. Among those to advance included 2016 CT Senior Match Play Champion Bruce Kraczkowsky (76), 2017 CT Senior Match Play Champion Tom Brett (75), and defending champion Kyle Nolin (75).
The final round will begin at 7:00 a.m., with the leaders teeing off last at 8:40 a.m. Live hole-by-hole scoring will be available for the leading groups online at CTPublicLinks.com.
About the Connecticut State Golf Association
The Connecticut Public Links 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.