Matt Doyle of Daniel Hand, Alex Gu of Darien, Alex Aurora of Hamden are among the favorites in the 2nd Annual CIAC Open Championship, conducted by the CSGA, at Black Hall Club on Saturday.
All have something to prove.
Gu, who with teammate Calvin Smith, won the Chappa Tournament at Long Shore in late May, finished tied for second with Aurora at Timberlin Golf Course in the Division I Championship, behind Chris Fosdick, both three shots back. Two uncharacteristic double bogeys by Gu removed him from contention. Two late bogeys by Aurora—while Fosdick was making birdies—were the difference for him.
Matt Doyle (above) is riding a streak. He played well in the Palmer Cup, and won the Division II Individual Championship at Stanley Golf Club this week while helping his team, Daniel Hand, take the state title. But he, along with Gu, tied for tenth behind champion Chris Fosdick of Xavier last year, and both are committed to a better finish this year.
“It would mean so much for me to win the CIAC Open because it’s an amazing event, and one of my close friends Chris Fosdick won last year. It would be a huge honor to follow in his footsteps,” Doyle, still only 16, texted from Black Hall as he played a practice round. “It would mean so much for me and my school, Daniel Hand.”
On the girls side, four will compete: Stirling Legge of New Canaan, who was third at the states; Morgan Hibbert, also of champion New Canaan, who was sixth; Bethany Fell of Fairfield Warde, who was T7, and Logan Frame of Middleton, who finished T19.
For Gu, it’s a chance to remove the sting of his runner-up finish in the FCIAC Championship at Fairchild Wheeler in late May, when a two-shot swing on the 17th hole gave the title to Gunnar Granito of New Canaan.
Both Gu and Doyle were close in last year’s Connecticut Junior Amateur as well. Gu lost to eventual champion Connor Belcastro in a close semi-final match. Doyle lost to Belcastro in the finals.
The Open is in its second year, giving the strongest players in all state divisions a chance to compete against one another for the state individual title
Besides Doyle, Colby Norton of Lewis Mills, Division III Champion, both Division IV co-champions, Tyler Woodward of Coginchaug and Michael Dolce of St. Paul Catholic are in the field. Michael Hanratty of Avon, who at 16 last year made the cut in the Connecticut Open, is also playing. So is Billy Nail of the FCIAC and state-champion Greenwich Cardinals.
Black Hall, hosting for the second straight year is the site of the annual CSGA Two Man Championship and this year of the 74th Connecticut Senior Amateur. The club played host to the 113th Connecticut Amateur Championship on its 50th anniversary in 2015. It has held all of the major tournaments in Connecticut, including the Connecticut Open, the Connecticut PGA Championship, the Mid-Amateur, the Tri-States and the Women’s Amateur. It has served as the qualifier for both the Travelers Championship and several USGA championships.
The course, designed by Robert Trent Jones in 1965, will play to 6265 yards for the boys, 5589 yards for the girls. It is an unrelenting layout known not only for its length but its tree-hugging fairways and many bunkers. It will play to par 71 for boys, par 72 for the girls.