18 year-old John VanderLaan of Southbury and the Country Club of Waterbury won the 85th playing of the New England Amateur Championship on Thursday with a 72-hole score of 278, six under par. VanDerLaan fired rounds of 67 and 70 over the final 36 holes and claimed the biggest victory of his young career by three strokes over Nicholas Pandelena of New Hampshire. VanDerLaan has won several junior tournaments including the 2012 CSGA Junior Amateur Championship, but his latest victory is his greatest golfing accomplishment to date.
“It is awesome,” said VanDerLaan, a recent graduate of Pomperaug High School. “The best players in New England for the most part are here, and to play as well as I did for four rounds to earn that title is pretty awesome.”
The 2014 New England Amateur was played at the 6,832 yard, par 71, Donald Ross designed Winchester Country Club in Winchester, Massachusetts. One hundred fifty-six of the best amateurs in New England began play on Tuesday, July 22, with the field reduced to forty and ties after 36 holes.
In addition to the champion VanDerLaan, Connecticut was well represented among the top finishers. 2014 CSGA Amateur champion Zach Zabach (TPC River Highlands) finished third, 2012 Russell C. Palmer Cup winner Sam Bernstein (The Course at Yale) was fourth, and two-time New England Junior champion Brian Carlson (Clinton CC) finished tied for 5th. Two more Connecticut players, Chris Wiatr (CC Waterbury) and Peter Ballo (Woodway CC) also cracked the top-10 as both finished tied for 9th
VanDerLaan’s transition from junior golf to men’s amateur golf has been impressive. He finished 15th in the 2013 Connecticut Open after closing with a final round 66, and reached the round of 16 in the 2014 Connecticut Amateur. He enters Florida Southern College as a freshman this fall. Joining a program that has won 12 Division II NCAA Golf Championships, VanDerLaan follows a line of outstanding players including Lee Janzen, Rocco Mediate and former NCAA individual champion Tom Gleeton, head professional at the Country Club of Waterbury.
Complete results of the 2014 New England Amateur can be found by clicking here.