Fairfield, Connecticut (September 28, 2021) – Late in the front nine it looked like as many as 10 players had a chance to win the 76th Connecticut Senior Amateur. By the time the players reached the midway point of the back nine it had turned into the Donal Reilly show.
“I’ve been banging balls for 48 years and it all came to fruition today,” Reilly a first-time CSGA winner said. “It is a great and a wonderful experience all around.”
Originally from Ballymahon, Ireland, a town an hour west of Dublin, Reilly began playing golf when he was 10-year-olds hitting balls into his neighbor's farm field. Reilly, who plays cross-handed, continued to play the game while in boarding school at a nearby par-3 course but it wasn’t until after he moved stateside in 1987 did he start to take his game to the next level.
“It isn’t unusual for guys from Ireland to have a cross-handed grip,” explained Reilly. “We play a game called hurling which is similar to field hockey and you have to be able to swing the stick in both directions. I didn’t play a lot of hurling but a lot of guys swing cross-handed so it isn’t as unique over there as it is here. I’ve been doing it for the best part of 40 years and is too late to change now.”
On Tuesday for parts of the final round it felt like Reilly was playing a round back home in Ireland. The skies were gray and the rain fell on and off forcing delays on two separate occasions.
“I play in the rain so it feels like home to some degree,” said Reilly (H. Smith Richardson GC). “I can’t say that it really affects me at all. It is just part of what we do when we play so quite honestly I was relaxed about the whole thing and I felt good all day so it really isn’t that big of an issue for me.”
4-over for the tournament and leading by one when he returned to the course for the final eight holes of a challenging day at The Patterson Club Reilly found another gear. On the par-4 10th Reilly knocked his approach shot from 120-yards out to 10-feet and then trickled in the downhill birdie putt. Once that putt fell the 58-year-old moved to 3-over and was off to the races.
Two solid pars followed, including a nifty up-and-down on the par-3 12th after his tee shot came to rest just feet from the water to the left of the green. Now leading by two shots Reilly continued to extend his advantage. First, he chipped in for birdie from 15-feet on the par-4 13th.
“I lost my sand wedge somewhere on the golf course today,” said Reilly when talking about his chip-in birdie. “So I used my 60-degree wedge for the shot which I normally wouldn’t use for that shot but it worked out pretty well.”
Then on the par-5 14th Reilly drained a difficult downhill 12-footer for birdie to all but put the tournament away. Reilly did bogey No. 15 but a pair of pars on his final two holes sealed the deal as he signed for a final round 1-under 70 to card the only under-par round of the tournament and finish 2-over overall.
Reilly began the final round 3-over and two shots off the pace and played steady golf early in the round. Beginning the shotgun start final round on the par-4 17th hole Reilly played his first nine holes in 1-over par to keep himself firmly in the mix throughout the start and stop early portions of the round.
“I had a good day and enjoyed it. I played with two good guys. I love the camaraderie of the senior guys and I have received a lot of congratulations on my phone,” a smiling Reilly said. “It is blowing up here as I speak but all in all today was a great day.”
Eric Ashworth (EClub of Connecticut) finished in second place four shots off the pace at 6-over, Tom Hagel (The Patterson Club) and Michael Hooper (Brooklawn CC) shared third at 7-over while Bill Hermanson (Black Hall Club) and Glen Boggini (Manchester CC) tied for fifth at 8-over. First round leader Bart Weissman (Sterling Farms) along with 2020 winner Dick Stevens (Western Hills GC) were part of a tie for seventh at 9-over.
About the Connecticut State Golf Association
The Connecticut Senior Amateur is one of 19 championships conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association. The CSGA functions as an extension of the USGA and provides stewardship for amateur golf in Connecticut. Founded in 1899, it is the country’s oldest state golf association and conducts over 60 Championships, Qualifiers, and One Day Tournaments throughout the year.