The CSGA team of Geoff Vartelas, John Flaherty and Chet Hrostek produced Connecticut’s best ever finish in the USGA State Team Championship on Friday, as they finished tied for fifth overall with Washington and Minnesota. Michigan claimed the title after a final round of 4-under par vaulted them to the top of the leaderboard.
Hosted this year by the Country Club of Birmingham in Alabama, the 54-hole competition is played every other year and brings together top players from Puerto Rico, Washington D.C. and all fifty states. Numerous state, regional, and USGA champions, as well as a number of past Walker Cup players populate the field.
Despite their historic accomplishment, there was a bit of disappointment for the Connecticut squad as the team held a two-shot lead over the field of 52 teams entering the final round.
“We were tied for the lead after the first round and alone in first after the second round, so yes it is a disappointing,’ said Vartelas, “but I think we have a lot that we can feel good about. It was a great week and a real honor to compete for Connecticut with John and Chet.”
Vartelas was also the individual leader after shooting 68-70, but his final round was derailed with double-bogeys at holes 8 and 10 en route to a final round 79. Flaherty followed rounds of 72 and 71 with a 76, and Hrostek, whose score did not count for Connecticut in the first two rounds, led the team with a 73 on Friday.
“Geoff and John played so well the first two days, and they are both just great guys and great players,” said Hrostek. “I’m glad I was able to contribute today, and so happy to have been a part of this team. I set it as a goal for myself two years ago to make the team, and it really was a wonderful experience to represent our state on a national stage.”
Connecticut’s 5th place finish was the best of any of the northeastern states as Pennsylvania was tied for 8th, Massachusetts was tied for 10th, and New Jersey was tied for 15th. New York and the remaining New England states missed the cut when the field was reduced to 21 teams and ties after 36 holes.