Links: Full Results
Kyle Nolin of Tallwood Country Club captured the 31st Connecticut Public Links Championship on Tuesday, shooting rounds of 72-72-144 for an even-par total and a two-stroke victory at Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield, Conn.
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 Jones Course at Lyman Orchards Golf Club opened for play in 1969 and was set up to play at a total of 6,854 yards for the competitors.
After an opening round of 72, Nolin began the final round just one stroke back of overnight leader Chris Meinke. With a packed leaderboard of thirteen players within three strokes of the lead, getting off to a solid start of the difficult front nine of the Jones Course would be critical for the eventual champion.
“I struck the ball really well yesterday and putted well but didn’t make a lot, so I just tried to stay patient out there today,” said Nolin. “My game plan was all about control and hitting fairways and greens. I tried to give myself birdie putts and more importantly, tried not to short-side myself which I didn’t do all day.”
While the front nine, which had five of the six hardest playing holes, wreaked havoc on many of the leaders, Nolin focused on his game plan of fairways and greens. By making the turn in even-par with two birdies and two bogies, he had separated himself from the pack and had jumped out to a two stroke advantage with just nine holes to play.
After pars on holes #10, 11 and 12, a clutch birdie on the par-4 13th gave him a three stroke lead over Chris Flowers of H. Smith Richardson, who charged up the leaderboard with a back-nine 33 to post a two-over par total in the clubhouse. Despite some difficult tee shots on the closing stretch, Nolin was able to navigate his way around the final stretch with just a lone three-putt bogey on the 17th hole.
Needing just a bogey on the par-5 18th hole to secure the championship, his third shot ended up just over the back of the green. Relying on his deft touch, he calmly chipped his fourth shot to within inches of the cup, securing the title and his first Public Links title.
“Before I teed off today, I looked at some of the names on the Public Links trophy and I’ll definitely be in good company,” said Nolin. “To have my name on the trophy with some of the best amateur golfers in the state is truly special.”
Nolin, who is currently an expert club fitter at Chris Cote’s Golf Shop, has been around the game for much of his career. A victory at the Public Links Championship marks his first CSGA victory and a validation of years of hard work on his game.
“To win [the Public Links] means a lot to me,” said Nolin. “I put in a lot of hard work on my game this year and to have it finally pay off is really exciting.”
Finishing runner-up was Chris Flowers of H. Smith Richardson Golf Course, who also posted his best finish in CSGA competition. After an opening round of 74, Flowers turned in +5 for the championship before starting his final nine holes birdie-par-eagle to get within two strokes of the lead. Although he was unable to make up any additional ground with pars on his final six holes, a closing nine of 33 and a round of 72 gives Flowers plenty of confidence as he heads into the fall season.
“I figured even-par for the tournament would be enough to win when I started today,” said Flowers. “I made a few bad club choices on the front nine that cost me, so I thought I needed 30 or 31 on the back nine to have a chance. I came close with 33, but it’s my best finish in a CSGA event so far so all in all I’m happy with how I played.”
Steve Gettings of Orange Hills Country Club, a quarterfinalist in this year’s Connecticut Amateur, finished in third place with rounds of 75-72—147. Jason Longo of H. Smith Richardson Golf Course and Dave Jones of Mohegan Sun Country Club finished tied for fourth place at four over-par 148.