(Mike Hooper of Brooklawn, runnerup in the Senior Match Play Championship)
He says don’t call it the McGuiness Slam, but Keney Park’s Patrick McGuiness has now won the last two Connecticut senior major championships.
In October McGuiness shot rounds of 71-69 at Fairview Farm Golf Course to win the 72nd Connecticut Senior Amateur Championship.
On Wednesday he added the 12th Senior Match Play Championship, winning 5&4 over Mike Hooper of Brooklawn.
While the final went relatively smoothly for McGuiness, his semi-final against 2016 Senior Amateur Champion Bruce Kraczkowsky of Blue Fox Run was another story. In that match McGuiness came from four down after nine holes to catch Kraczkowsky on the 17th and win one up with an up-and-in, short-side par on the difficult 18th.
“Bruce played really well and put a lot of pressure on me, got me way down. I didn’t think I was going to be able to turn it around.” But he did, beginning with a lengthy birdie putt on 10.
McGuiness’ iron play was for the most part flawless, but it was putting, he said, that made the difference in both matches, particularly in the final.
“I really putted well in the afternoon. I made a lot of mileage in terms of putts, especially on the front side.” McGuiness birdied three times on the front, and made a 25-foot par putt on the 214-yard par-3 2nd after putting his tee shot into the right-side hazard.
Meanwhile Hooper, who birdied the 3rd, three-putted three times on the front, and could never recover. “That really hurt. It put me in a deep hole from which I never crawled out,” he said. Two of those three-putts came on the 7th and 8th, where McGuiness uncharacteristically missed greens. McGuiness bogeyed the 7th, but thanks to Hooper’s three-putt, halved the hole. On the par-5 eighth, McGuiness escaped a lateral hazard on his third shot and got up and in from 79 yards on his fourth to a difficult, back-right hole location to go four up. “That flop shot was pretty key,” said the champion.
It was those same two holes in the morning that turned Hooper’s match with Rich Jute of Topstone around. Hooper won both to reduce Jute’s lead to one and eventually prevailed 4&3.
McGuiness protested when CSGA Executive Director Mike Moraghan, presenting him with the silver Match Play trophy, cited to the two major victories and called him “clearly the best senior golfer in Connecticut.”
“It’s not lost on anybody who follows amateur golf in the state of Connecticut that Dave Szewczul is the best senior player in the state and he couldn’t be here this week because he’s recovering from back surgery and when he played in the Senior Am in the fall he had a broken back. He’s the guy in the state of Connecticut. If you’re going to call it a slam, make it the Szewczul Slam.” Szewczul won the Senior Match Play four times, along with a host of other majors, including the Connecticut Mid-Amateur and Connecticut Senior Amateur.
The Senior Match Play is the CSGA’s youngest tournament, the Senior Amateur one of the oldest. McGuiness won both halves of the Match Play double-header, taking co-medalist honors in the 18-hole stroke play qualifier on Monday, and then winning his second consecutive major Wednesday.
McGuinness, who calls himself a “junior senior” at 56, also had high praise for the two 75-year-olds, Bill Lee and Shawn McLoughlin, who lost in the round of 16 and quarterfinals respectively. “They were amazing,” he said.
But then so was he.