Mark Vasington of Wampanoag Country Club fired a three under-par score of 68 in the final round to shoot a total of even-par 142 and capture the 69th Connecticut Senior Amateur Championship at Wethersfield Country Club.
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 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.
Vasington began the day a total of seven strokes back of overnight leader Rob Bartha of Tallwood Country Club, whose 67 on day one gave him a three shot lead heading into the final day. Vasington stood in a tie for 17th place after shooting 74 in the first round, and knew he needed something special to even have a chance at the title.
“I said to my wife last night that to be close, I probably had to shoot 68 to have a chance," said Vasington. "To be honest, I didn’t think that would be enough to win, but I thought I might have a shot. My mindset was really to just play one shot at a time “
Starting on the 8th hole in the final round shotgun, Vasington birdied the 10th and 17th holes to head to the front nine at one over-par for the championship. Playing in the same group as Vasington, Dave Szewczul of Tunxis Plantation Country Club made a pair of birdies of his own on the 8th and 10th holes to move to +1 as well. With the leaders faltering on the back nine, suddenly Vasington and Szewczul found themselves in a tie for the lead.
“As our round progressed, I started seeing more and more people following our group, so I knew that Dave [Szewczul] and I were in the hunt," said Vasington. "I just kept telling myself to make good swings, and that was my goal.”
Vasington made his third birdie on the par-5 2nd hole to take sole possession of the lead, and despite the pressure of leading a CSGA major championship, he refused to stumble. After hitting his tee shot to the right on the fourth hole, his 16th hole of the day, he hit the shot of the tournament, a low punch through the trees that ended up just thirty feet from the hole.
“I hit a couple of errant tee shots to the right on #4 and #12, but I was able to hit good recovery shots on both to save par to keep the round going.”
Vasington is no stranger to pressure-packed situations, having played collegiate soccer at the University of Massachusetts with longtime friend Mark Vassalotti of Sterling Farms, who also made the cut at this year’s Senior Amateur.
“With four holes to go, the adrenaline really kicked it and it reminded me of a few big games when I was playing competitive soccer. I’ve only been playing state competitions for a few years and I’m very humbled by the win, knowing all of the great names of former champions on the trophy. It’s a pretty amazing feeling for me and I feel very fortunate to have come out on top.”
With his win, Vasington also earned an invitation to compete in the Tri-State matches on October 9th-10th at Tumble Brook Country Club. He will join a team of Connecticut’s top amateur and senior amateur golfers who will compete against Massachusetts and Rhode Island for the trophy.
Despite finishing second, Szewczul wrapped up his record sixth-straight Senior Player of the Year title, winning the points race by an amazing 1,084 points. Bill Torza, the 2007 Senior Match Play Champion, made a brief move up the leaderboard early in his round with birdies on the 2nd and 4th holes, but wasn’t able to overcome a string of bogies in the middle of his round, eventually finishing in third place.