Defending champion Bill Hermanson shot an opening round of even-par 70 take the overnight lead heading into the final round of the 71st Connecticut Senior Amateur Championship. The two-day, 36-hole stroke play championship is being contested September 26th & 27th at Madison Country Club in Madison, Conn. and is open to Connecticut senior golfers who are fifty-five years of age and over.
Fall temperatures and a steady breeze made the recently redesigned 6,280 yard, par-70 layout at Madison Country Club a challenge for the state’s top senior golfers. Despite playing in the height of the wind and a slow start that left him three over through five holes, Hermanson played the final eleven holes in three under-par.
“It was tough out there, the greens were really firm and really fast, so you had to pay attention to every putt you had,” said Hermanson. “I was definitely a little tentative starting out, but after the fifth hole I was able to settle down and start hitting fairways and greens. I hit it to a couple of feet on #8 and about six feet on #9 for birdies, so that helped get me back on track.”
Despite the difficult back nine which featured the five hardest holes of the day, he played them in one under-par, making two birdies matched with a lone bogey on the par-3 11th to post a round of 70. Hermanson, who finished as the low Connecticut player last week in the New England Senior Amateur, holds a one stroke advantage over Robert Murphy, Jr. of Brownson CC and Tom Scarrozzo of Blue Fox Run, who will be joining him in the final group.
“I’m definitely going to need to play another good round tomorrow,” said Hermanson. “I hit the ball really solid after the opening stretch, so I’m just going to try to do the same tomorrow.”
No doubt he will be challenged in the final round by a host of the state’s best senior golfers, as a total of ten players stand within four shots of the lead. Among those within striking distance is current Senior Player of the Year points leader and two-time Senior Amateur Dave Szewczul of Tunxis Plantation Country Club, who shot a round of two over-par 72 and sits just one stroke back.
“I was a little sloppy out there and made a bunch of birdies and bogies,” said Szewczul. “The key for tomorrow will be to keep it in play, hit as many greens as possible, and pick and choose where to be aggressive.”
The last player to successfully defend their Senior Amateur title was Szewczul, who won back-to-back titles in 2011-12. Earlier this year, Hermanson and Szewczul teamed up to win their second consecutive Two Man Team Championship at Black Hall Club. Hermanson, a 2012 inductee into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame, will be seeking to become the seventh player in tournament history to accomplish such a feat, as he won the Senior Amateur last year at Torrington Country Club.
This year’s starting field of ninety players was trimmed to the low thirty nine competitors, plus ties, following the conclusion of the first round. A total of forty players made the cut at 80 (+10) and will play the second and final round tomorrow, Tuesday, September 27th.
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 online at CTSeniorAm.com.