Brian Ahern of Wampanoag Country Club made three birdies and just one bogey on his way to a two under-par round of 69 and a one shot lead after the first day of the 114th Connecticut Amateur presented by Kota Solutions. The state’s most prestigious amateur championship is being conducted June 13th – 17th at Wethersfield Country Club in Wethersfield, Connecticut.
On a day that felt more like September than June, one hundred-twenty of Connecticut’s best amateur golfers made their way around the 6,573 yard, par-71 layout. With a steady wind that gusted to near 30 MPH throughout the day, only four players managed to finish under par for the tournament.
Ahern, the 1999 Connecticut Amateur Champion and 2010 & 2012 Connecticut Mid-Amateur Champion, will be seeking to capture his first Robert M. Grant medalist prize and the number one seed when he begins his second round Tuesday afternoon.
“The conditions were tough given the winds but the course was very fair,” said Ahern. “The wind certainly made the shorter putts more difficult for all of the competitors. The greens are rolling so well that you expect to make putts, and I putted nicely today and that is what kept my round going. I’ve been improving over the last few weeks so this was a good round mentally for me.”
Kevin Josephson (Country Club of Farmington), Corey Birch (Silver Spring Country Club) and Justin Clark (Rolling Hills Country Club) stand just one stroke back of Ahern after shooting rounds of one under-par 71. Josephson, who was a finalist in the 2014 Connecticut Amateur, is seeking to capture his third R.M. Grant Medalist prize, having won the honor in 2009 and 2013. Only eight players in the 114-year history of the championship have won medalist honors three or more times, with three-time Amateur Champion Robert M. Grant, for whom the honor is named, capturing a total of eight.
“I struck the ball really well which was huge in this wind,” said Josephson. “I was a little tentative on the greens, but you really had to be with how smooth and fast they were. It was a fun test out there.”
A strong contingent of players sit two shots behind and safely inside the cut line. Jonathan Klein (defending Wethersfield CC Club Champion), Zach Zaback (2014 Amateur Champion), Brian Hedstrom, (1997 and 2000 Amateur Champion), Clark Robinson (2015-16 Conference USA Honor Roll), and Brent Dietz (2013 Public Links and 2007 Mid-Amateur Champion) all finished at even par 71 for the tournament and are in position to make a move up the leaderboard in Tuesday’s second round action.
2016 marks a special year for Wethersfield Country Club, as they are celebrating their 100th anniversary in conjunction with hosting the Connecticut Amateur Championship. Founded in 1916, the present course was designed by Robert D. Pryde, the first Executive Director of the CSGA. This year marks the fifth time that Wethersfield CC has hosted the Connecticut Amateur Championship, and marks the fourteenth CSGA major championship held at the club. Aside from the long list of CSGA championships held at Wethersfield CC, the club famously hosted the Insurance City Open (now the Travelers Championship) from 1952 to 1983.
Play continues Tuesday with the second round of stroke play before the field of 120 players is trimmed to the lowest 32 players who will then advance to match play. It will take five wins in match play for the eventual champion to etch their name on the Connecticut Amateur trophy, equating to a total of eight rounds of golf and approximately 144 holes of golf in five days.
Following Tuesday’s round, the low thirty-two players will advance to match play. After day one, there are 41 players at 75 or better (T-27), with another 11 players just one shot back. A playoff to determine the last spot(s) in match play will begin immediately at the conclusion of Tuesday’s round at approximately 6:00 p.m.
Amateur Team Championship
The Connecticut Amateur Team Championship is conducted concurrently with the Connecticut Amateur. Any golf club represented by three or more contestants in the Amateur Championship is automatically entered into the team championship, with the three lowest 18-hole scores per club thus counting toward the team total.
After day one, Wethersfield Country Club (215) holds a slim lead over TPC River Highlands (219), the defending team champion. The club is represented by a total of nine players, with Jonathan Klein (71), Evan Grenus (72) and Jack Ayers (72) as the three lowest scores.
Evan Grenus, Wethersfield Country Club (2015 Amateur Champion) – 72 (+1)
Monte Mullen, TPC River Highlands (2010 Junior Amateur Champion) – 74 (+3)
Bill Hermanson, Black Hall Club (2015 CSGA Senior Player of the Year) – 75 (+4)
John Flaherty, TPC River Highlands (2015 CSGA Player of the Year) – 75 (+4)
C.J. Swift, Great River Golf Club (2014 New England Amateur Champion) – 75 (+4)
About the Connecticut Amateur Championship
The Connecticut Amateur Championship is one of the nation’s oldest state amateur golf championships and is one of 18 championship tournaments conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association. The challenging format tests the state's best amateur golfers over two rounds of stroke play to determine the low thirty-two match play qualifiers. Two rounds of match play each day culminate in a thirty-six hole final to crown the top amateur player in Connecticut.
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