Round one of the 69th Connecticut Senior Amateur got under way Monday at the historic Wethersfield Country Club, with a total of eighty-six of the state’s top senior golfers hoping to etch their name on the championship trophy. Rob Bartha of Tallwood Country Club fired a round of four under-par 67 to open up a three shot lead heading into the final round.
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Connecticut Senior Amateur Championship is presented by Johnson Brunetti and is a 36-hole stroke play competition being played at Wethersfield Country Club on Monday and Tuesday, September 29th and 30th. The championship is open to Connecticut senior golfers who are fifty five years of age and over by the start of the event.
Bartha’s round of 67 featured a total of six birdies, the most recorded by any competitor in the field. After making the turn at two under-par 33, he stumbled with a pair of bogies on the 11th and 14th holes to drop back to even-par. However, he was able to re-group on the 15th tee, knowing he had some birdie holes left, and capitalized in a big way. He went on to birdie the final four holes, jumping from level par to four under-par in just over an hour.
“I hit a lot of greens today and putted really well…I just played really solid golf,” said Bartha.
Heading into tomorrow, Bartha will be in search of winning his first CSGA major championship. At just fifty-five years of age, this is Bartha’s first Senior Amateur appearance, and he is among the youngest players in the field. However, his mindset heading into tomorrow resembles that of a steely and experienced veteran. When asked what his game plan was heading into tomorrow, he calmly replied:
“Just hit fairways and greens tomorrow, and play one hole at a time.”
He holds a three shot lead over Chuck Claffey, Jr. of Farmington Woods Country Club, who shot a round of one under-par 70. Claffey is a staple among CSGA events, having been an on-course official for the organization for numerous years and currently co-chairman of the CSGA Junior Golf Committee. His round included three birdies on the back nine, matched with just a pair of bogies on the 9th and 13th. Although he has some ground to make up heading into tomorrow, Claffey is in familiar territory, having previously finished second in the Senior Amateur back in 2008.
When tomorrow’s final round kicks off, plenty of past champions will be chasing the lead, including Bill Torza of Wethersfield Country Club, who will be hoping to win his second CSGA senior title at his home club. Torza, who won the inaugural Senior Match Play Championship in 2007, shot a round of even-par 71 and stands just four shots back in third place.
“I had been struggling for a while coming into the tournament, but I hit the ball today as well as I have all year,” said Torza. “I’m really happy with my round today and hopefully I can keep it going tomorrow.”
The Connecticut Senior Amateur is being played at Wethersfield Country Club for just the third time in tournament history. Founded in 1916, Wethersfield Country Club was designed by Robert D. Pryde, the first Executive Director of the CSGA. Wethersfield Country Club hosted the Insurance City Open (now the Travelers Championship) for 32 years from 1952 until 1983. The club has also previously hosted the Connecticut Amateur Championship five times and the Connecticut Open Championship four times, and will host the 2016 Connecticut Amateur Championship in conjunction with the celebration of its 100th year anniversary.
This year’s starting field of eighty-six players was trimmed to the low thirty-nine competitors, plus ties, following the conclusion of the first round. A total of forty-three players made the cut at 77 (+6) and will play the second and final round tomorrow, Tuesday, September 30th.
The final round will be a 9:00 a.m. shotgun, with the leaders beginning on Hole #1. Live hole-by-hole scoring will be available for the leading groups online at CTSeniorAm.com.