Newington, Connecticut (August 31, 2021) – Weston’s Eric Bleile was one of five qualifiers on Tuesday at Indian Hill Country Club to earn a spot in the 40th U.S. Mid-Amateur set to be played from September 25-30th at Sankaty Head Golf Club on Nantucket. Bleile carded a 2-under 70 to earn the fifth and final qualifying spot.
Bleile got off to a slow start with a bogey on No. 2 and then, “played pretty solid” for the remainder of the front nine recording birdies on the par-3 5th and par-4 7th to turn in 1-under 35.
“On the back I hit a good shot on No. 10 and then didn’t hit another good tee shot until No. 16 so I was kind of hitting it both directions and scrambling around for pars,” Bleile who plays the guitar and sings vocals for the country band Hazzard County said.
During that stretch Bleile’s card reflected his struggles off the tee. He bogeyed Nos. 10 and 11 to fall to 1-over and then caught a break when he chipped in for birdie on the par-4 13th to return to even-par.
The birdie on No. 13 kick started Bleile’s sprint to the finish. On the short par-4 16th his drive finished just short of the green leading to an easy up and down for birdie to return to red figures. However, Bleile wasn’t done and he saved his best for last. His second shot into the closing par-5 was pulled left into a green side bunker but it was of little matter as the 44-year-old was able to convert his, “best up and down of the day” to close with a birdie. Bleile did well to escape a difficult lie in the bunker only to leave himself with a 30-foot putt for birdie. Knowing that 2-under would put him in a good spot to advance Bleile jarred what proved to be the difference making birdie.
Once the birdie putt fell on the 18th it became a waiting game for Bleile as a number of groups still needed to finish their round. However, as the scores came in it soon became clear that Bleile had earned his second career appearance in a USGA event and his first since he played in the 1999 U.S. Public Links shortly after graduating from Greensboro College.
“I am bucket list excited,” Bleile said of his excitement level to return to the USGA stage.
In addition, to Bleile four other players earned a spot into the U.S. Mid-Amateur field. Medalist honors went to John Hayes (Portland, ME) who fired a 6-under 66. In 2017 Hayes made a run to the U.S. Mid-Amateur Round of 32.
Arthur Zelmati (Boston, MA) finished second at 5-under while James Pleat (Nashua, NH) and Joseph Harney (West Roxbury, MA) posted 3-under to earn the other two exemptions. The alternate spots went to Brendan Hester (Northbridge, MA) and Joe Alvarez (Kennebunk, ME) with Hester earning the 1st Alternate spot.
About the Connecticut State Golf Association
The Connecticut State Golf Association 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.