Dave Szewczul of Tunxis Plantation Country Club used a final round 67 to charge up the leaderboard and capture the 71st Connecticut Senior Amateur. The two-day, 36-hole stroke play championship was contested September 26th & 27th at Madison Country Club in Madison, Conn. and was open to Connecticut senior golfers who are fifty-five years of age and over.
After opening with a two over-par round of 72 on day one, Szewczul began his quest for his third Senior Amateur title two strokes behind overnight leader Bill Hermanson of Black Hall Club. With ten players within four strokes of the lead heading into the final round, the path to victory for the eventual champion would certainly not be an easy one.
Szewczul, who started on the 3rd hole in the shotgun start format, found himself behind early after a bogey on the short par-4 5th hole. Although he was able to recover with a birdie on the 6th hole, a missed opportunity on the drivable par-4 7th hole left him far from the top of the leaderboard.
“I didn’t get off to a great start today, but I just stuck with it and tried to play solid golf for the final fifteen holes,” said Szewczul. “I let the drive slip away on #7 and I was definitely disappointed to not give myself a decent chance at birdie there. But after that, I started hitting some quality shots and was able to get some momentum going.”
Indeed, he did. With the back nine playing nearly three strokes harder than the front nine, Szewczul managed three birdies and no bogies on the inward stretch. The newly designed green complexes were no match for Szewczul’s near-perfect ball striking – in fact, he missed just one fairway and one green all day.
“I just tried to go out and play well today,” said Szewczul. “I knew that I’ve been playing well and striking the ball well, so it was just a matter of making a few putts. I made a couple of great par-saving putts on the back nine that kept me going, and those are almost as good as making birdies.”
But it wasn’t until the very end that Szewczul could lay claim on the Senior Amateur trophy, as six different players held a share of the lead throughout the day at even-par. As bogies began to pile up, it was Szewczul’s consistency that brought him to the top. His birdies on #10, #12 and #14 boosted him into sole possession of the lead with just six holes to play, and a string of two-putt par’s was all that was needed to secure the four-stroke victory.
The six-time CSGA Senior Player of the Year and 2010 inductee into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame has already written his place among the greats in Connecticut golf, but string of close calls and near missed had left him on the outside looking in. Szewczul’s last CSGA win came in 2014 at the Senior Match Play Championship.
“This one means a lot - I’ve been playing well for the last year and a half and I just haven’t been able to finish it,” said Szewczul. I’ve been putting myself in position and I’ve been close, but to finally close the deal and bring it home is truly gratifying for all the work that you put into it.”
The win marks his third Senior Amateur Championship and seventh CSGA senior title, adding to his four Senior Match Play titles, and he becomes just the third player in CSGA history to win three or more Senior Amateur titles. Finishing runner-up was Randy Keleher of Sterling Farms Golf Course and Robert Murphy, Jr. of Brownson Country Club, both of whom finished at three over-par for the championship. Overnight leader and defending champion Bill Hermanson finished in fourth place after a closing round of 74.
Szewczul will look to keep the momentum going when he begins play next week at Wampanoag Country Club for the 29th Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship, an event he finished second in last year. Complete tournament coverage is available on the championship website at CTMidAm.com.
After the Fact
First in History: The 71st Connecticut Senior Amateur marked the first CSGA major championship held at Madison Country Club. The course, which was originally designed by Willie Park, Jr. in 1909, recently underwent an extensive renovation by architect Brian Silva that added both length and difficulty to the historic layout.
Scoring Average: With sunny skies and a crisp breeze greeting the players on Monday, the scoring average of 80.44 was nearly three strokes higher than Tuesday’s final round scoring average of 77.76.
Hardest Hole: The par-3 11th Hole played as the hardest hole in both rounds, yielding a 4.071 scoring average and just six birdies over the two rounds.
Easiest Hole: With the tee moved up to just 263 yards on day two, the par-4 7th hole played as the easiest hole in the final round, with twelve of the forty competitors making birdie.
Low Round: Dave Szewczul’s round of 67 was the low round of the tournament by three shots, with overnight leader Bill Hermanson being the only other player to shoot par or better on the 6,280 yard, par-70 layout. Hermanson’s round of 70 gave him the overnight lead heading into the final round.
Hometown Hero: Five players represented Madison Country Club in the 71st Connecticut Senior Amateur, with Bob Ruby, Jr. being the sole player from the host club to make the cut. Ruby shot rounds of 78-74—152 to finish in a tie for thirteenth place. A longtime CSGA volunteer and USGA committee member, Ruby has the unique distinction of earning a perfect score of 100 on the USGA rules of golf test.
About the Connecticut State Golf Association
The Connecticut Senior Amateur is one of 18 championship tournaments 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.