Fairfield, Connecticut (August 17, 2021) – The 36th Connecticut Public Links hung in the balance. Nick Waddington stood just off the right side of par-5 18th hole fairway clinging to a two-shot advantage. Following a poor drive and a nervy second shot he faced a 195-yard blind third shot into a green surrounded by hazards.
Guarded by water on the left and the woods to the right Waddington purred a 6-iron that hit in the middle of the green and bounded onto the back fringe. From there all Waddington had to do was get up and down for bogey, he did one better saving par to finish 2-under and as the champion by two shots over 2019 winner Peter Tomlinson (Orange Hills CC).
With the victory Waddington (Manchester CC) joined his father Derek, who was his caddy during the final round, as a Connecticut Public Links champion making them the first Father-Son duo to capture the title. Derek won his title in 1999 at Richter Park Golf Course.
“It is amazing to win the same tournament as my Dad,” Waddington said as he looked at his Dad and smiled. “Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be like my Dad because he wins all the golf tournaments. He wins the Club Championship, he wins state events, he plays on the Tri-State team and I did [it] and it is really amazing.”
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However, the victory had an even deeper meaning for Waddington who lost his brother earlier in the year, “We lost my brother so it was a rough start to the year so I did this one for him and it meant a lot. It felt like he was here today. He loved watching me play golf and my Dad play golf. It means a lot.”
Waddington began the final round four shots off the first round pace set by Jamie Sheltman’s (Alling Memorial GC) 5-under 67 and early on it looked like Sheltman was going to turn in a steady round of golf. Sheltman began his day with three straight pars to maintain his advantage but he bogeyed the par-4 4th and from then on he slowly leaked oil for the remainder of the round. One day after rolling in six birdies Sheltman was unable to find one on a day where he bogeyed five-times and recorded a double-bogey to sign for a 7-over 79 and finish in third place at 2-over. It was his second top-three finish in a CSGA major in as many weeks.
Playing alongside Sheltman, Waddington began to make his charge late on the front nine. Following a double-bogey on No. 6 to fall to 1-over Waddington knocked his third shot into the par-5 9th to a few inches setting up a birdie, he then followed that up with a birdie on No. 10 and a third in four holes on the par-3 12th.
The birdie on No. 12 moved Waddington to 2-under and the lead alone for the first time. His lead wouldn’t last long as he bogeyed the ensuing hole to drop back to 1-under and into a tie for the lead with Sheltman.
Matching pars on No. 14 followed sending play to what proved to be the pivotal par-4 15th hole. Sheltman missed the fairway right and then came up short with his second shot. He was able to get up and down for par but he left the door open for Waddington to take the lead and he did just that.
After splitting the fairway Waddington’s second shot came to rest 18-feet below the hole. “When I first looked at [the birdie putt on No. 15] I said, ‘Dad maybe a little left edge?’ He kind of looks at me funny and goes, ‘No this is a left to right putt so I looked at it again and he was right as usual.”
Waddington trusted his Dad’s read and drained the birdie putt to move back to 2-under and into the lead for good.
In 2017 Waddington had a chance to win the Public Links but a bogey on the final hole cost him a spot in a playoff. This time around he wouldn’t miss his opportunity parring his way to the house to complete his historical come from behind triumph.
Tomlinson, with the round of the day a 3-under 69 finished in second place at level-par, “I just wanted to shoot under par today. I knew if I shot under par I would be close. I didn’t expect to come this close but the goal at the beginning of the day was under par and to get back to even-par for the tournament.”
A group of three players competing on their home track rounded out the top-five. The group included Dan Murphy who made a final round charge early in the day in fourth at 3-over while Stephen Tamagni and Joe Romanelli shared fifth at 4-over.
About the Connecticut State Golf Association
The Connecticut Public Links 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.