May 27th, 2014 - The Farms Country Club in Wallingford, Conn. welcomed the state’s top senior amateur golfers for the 8th Senior Match Play Championship. A total of one hundred-six golfers began the day vying for one of sixteen qualifying spots, with successful qualifiers advancing to the match play portion of the championship. Dave Szewczul of Tunxis Plantation Country Club, the two-time defending champion and reigning CSGA Senior Player of the Year, fired a round of one under-par 71 to claim medalist honors and the number one overall seed.
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Senior Match Play Championship is open to Connecticut senior golfers who are fifty five years of age and over. The tournament challenges competitors with a round of stroke play to determine the low sixteen match play qualifiers. Following the qualifying round, four rounds of match play are conducted over consecutive days, culminating in an eighteen-hole final match on Thursday, May 29th.
Thick rough and slick greens greeted the players on a warm summer day as they made their way around the par 72, 6,353 yard layout, which was designed by Geoffrey Cornish in 1960. Known for his remarkable consistency, Szewczul handled the difficult scoring conditions with ease, recording four birdies and only three bogies, and was never more than one over-par at any point in his round.
“The course was set up fair, but the greens were really tricky out there,” said Szewczul. “The key for me today was keeping it below the hole. You really had to put the ball in the correct spot, or else, even the short putts were a challenge.”
Szewczul is no stranger to entering match play as the #1 seed, as he also claimed medalist honors last year en-route to victory. Szewczul will begin his quest to capture his fourth Senior Match Play title when he faces Gary Mattesen of Cedar Knob Golf Club, the final player to advance. It would mark the first time in tournament history that the same player has captured the title four times, and in fact, only the sixth time that any player has won the same CSGA amateur championship four or more times. With a win, Szewczul would share that honor with Richard Siderowf (Amateur 1955, 60, 65, 84 and 85), Fred Kask (Connecticut Amateur 1970, 77, 80 and 87), Sam Petron (Senior Amateur 1962, 68-70, 74 and 75), Bill Hermanson (Mid-Amateur 1990-93), and Jeff Hedden (Mid-Amateur 2002, 05, 06 and 09).
“It would mean a lot to win for the fourth time, but just being able to compete year after year is very rewarding for me,” said Szewczul, when asked what it would mean to win his third straight Senior Match Play title and fourth overall. “There are so many great players in our state, and to be in the mix with a chance to win is all I can ask for.”
Both Mike Natale of East Mountain Golf Club and Tom Yellin of the Stanwich Club shot rounds of one over-par 73 to claim the second and third seeds, respectively. A nine person playoff was needed to determine the final two seeds of match play, with Bob Spaniotis of Wethersfield Country Club and Mattesen both successfully advancing.
The match play portion of the Senior Match Play Championship begins tomorrow, May 28th, with the Round of 16 beginning at 7:30 a.m., followed by the quarterfinals in the afternoon. The tournament will conclude Thursday, May 29th, with the semifinal and final matches. For more information and Live Scoring, visit CTSrMatchPlay.com.