(Nick Waddington and Matthieu Bouteillier finished 2nd at six-under 64)
September 14, 2018: Ben Conroy extended his most amazing 2018 summer Friday, this time with fellow New Haven Country Club member Ben Day as his partner, winning the 78th Connecticut Four-Ball Championship at the Course at Yale Friday with 30-32-62 (-8).
Conroy and Day won by two over the team of Nick Waddington of Manchester Country Club and Matthieu Bouteillier of Gillette Ridge, who shot 64.
Bill Hermanson and Philip Perry of Black Hall Club were third at 65 (-5).
The final holes of the Four-Ball, rescheduled from July 26 to September 12 due to foul weather, was further postponed Wednesday due to rain, with 23 teams still on the course. At that point Waddington and Bouteillier were in. Hermanson and Perry, then minus six, had five holes to play and Conroy and Day had just two left. Perry played the last five by himself Friday because Hermanson had a previous commitment. Conroy and Day parred both 17 and 18.
“It was kind of a pillow fight on those last two holes,” laughed Day of their two pars at the par 4 and par 5 Friday. “Took a while to wake up.”
But Day and Conroy were wide awake on Wednesday, when they opened with a birdie and shot 30 (-4) on the front, adding another four birdies on the back. They both hit nearly every green in regulation and as a team made no bogeys.
“Really the key was, we never birdied the same hole,” said Conroy. “So we made eight birdies and they all mattered. You can make eight birdies sometimes and shoot only three or four under.”
Day, who said the two had become “new friends” since Conroy joined New Haven, said he loved watching Conroy play. “For me it was relatively stress free, compared to how I normally play,” laughed Day. “You know, I can get it around pretty well,” said Day. “But Ben is something else. Every shot is right there. Another level.”
Perhaps a bit modest on Day’s part. Of the eight birdies at Yale on Wednesday, he made five, three on the front, two on the back. The team was minus four on each side. The dagger, for the rest of the field, was their Day/Conroy/Day combination of birdies on 14, 15 and 16, which took them to minus eight, two ahead of both Waddington/Bouteillier and Hermanson/Perry at the point play was suspended.
For Conroy, a hard luck case last year when he suffered his third near-miss in a major CSGA championship in as many years, 2018 has been a breakthrough of rare proportion:
In June he won the Connecticut Amateur.
In August, with his father Jay, he won the 82nd Father & Son Championship.
Later that month he took the 31st Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship by and incredible seven shots, expunging the disappointment of 2017, when he lost a three-shot lead on the final hole, only to lose in a playoff.
In addition, he tied fourth in the Palmer Cup, tied 11th in the Connecticut Open (T2 Low Amateur) and was first alternate in the sectional qualifier for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, where partner Day qualified. It has been a summer that for most amateurs would be a career. For the Berlin star who briefly turned pro and then regained his amateur status it was like falling back in love with the game.
“It’s been a lot of fun. Playing the game purely for the love of the game and of the competition. The core of my game hasn’t change. I always knew I had the game to win but I think this year I opened my mind to the fact that it was going to happen. I sort of got out of my own way.”
Day said their unusually low (for the Four-Ball) winning score was due in part to the fact the field played lift, clean and place. Conditions were already wet as the championship began in mist and fog on Wednesday morning and ended in deluge mid-afternoon when greens puddled and play was halted. To his point, six teams finished between -6 and -4, scores that often would win the Four-Ball.
But for one huge reason beyond the weather, things were different this year: This was the summer Ben Conroy broke through, and when, for the first time, he partnered with another Ben, who’s been playing pretty darn well himself.
For the rest of the field that was bad news. Playing the 2018 Four-Ball mostly under water, you might say they suffered a case of the Bens.