Chet Hrostek of the Golf Club at Oxford Greens Golf Club captured his second major of the season on Tuesday by winning the 28th Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship at Bull’s Bridge Golf Club. Hrostek shot rounds of 74-71-74—219 (+5) and birdied the first playoff hole to edge Dave Szewczul of Tunxis Plantation Country Club.
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship is a 54-hole stroke play competition that was played at Bull’s Bridge Golf Club Monday and Tuesday, October 5th and 6th. The championship is open to bona fide members of a CSGA club who are twenty-five years of age and over by the start of the tournament.
Hrostek began the final round on the 6,817 yard, par-72 layout in search of his second CSGA major championship, having won the 30th Public Links Championship earlier this season at Fairview Farm Golf Course. After opening with rounds of 74-71—145 (+1), he held a one stroke lead over Josh Cameron of Shennecossett Golf Course heading into the final round.
While a self-proclaimed hiatus from golf kept him from competing for nearly five years, thoughts of the 2004 Mid-Amateur Championship were no doubt fresh in his mind. Hrostek held the lead heading into the final hole at Tallwood Country Club before a disastrous four-putt on the 18th green cost him a shot at the title. But with a renewed sense of confidence after his win in August, Hrostek was determined to not let the tournament slip away.
Outlasting the state’s best amateurs would not be easy for Hrostek, who was also be chased by a pair of experienced CSGA champions in Ben Day of New Haven Country Club, the 2015 Russell C. Palmer Cup Champion (76-74—150) and Dave Szewczul of Tunxis Plantation Country Club, the 1996 Mid-Amateur Champion (77-71—148 ).
Hrostek opened his final round with a steady string of pars, matched with just one birdie and one bogey. Through the first eleven holes, he held a two stroke lead over Day and a three stroke lead over Szewczul.
“I just hung in there all day and kept thinking that if I could shoot even par, I would have a good chance to win,” said Hrostek. “The nerves started to come in on the 10th hole after I hit a poor second shot on the par-5 and had to make a 30-foot par putt.”
Although he was able to save par on the 10th, a costly double-bogey on the par-3 12th hole saw his two stroke lead vanish. Hrostek , Szewczul, and Day battled through the back nine, which challenged the players throughout the week. After three-putting the par-4 17th, Hrostek trailed Szewczul by one standing on the 18th tee at four over-par. Although his tee shot found the right rough, Hrostek hit a near perfect approach into the par-5 that left him with a twelve-foot putt for eagle.
“I thought I needed to make birdie on 18 to tie, but even after making birdie, I wasn’t sure it was going to be enough because I knew Dave still had another hole to play.”
As Hrostek failed to convert his eagle try and Day failed to reach the green in two on the par-5 1st hole, his final hole of the day, the door seemed open for Szewczul to make birdie for the outright win. Szewczul hit his approach on his final hole to within ten feet from the hole, but as his birdie try narrowly missed falling, both he and Hrostek knew there would indeed be more golf to be played to determine the champion.
After both players hit their approach shots into the green on the par-5 1st hole, Szewczul was first to play, starring down the same fifteen foot putt that he faced in regulation. As it slid by the hole, the stage was clear for Hrostek, who faced a six-foot downhill putt for the win. Relying on the putter that helped him claim his first CSGA championship, he calmly rolled in the putt to win his first Mid-Amateur Championship.
“To be in a playoff against one of Connecticut’s greatest amateurs in history was nerve-wracking in itself, but I was just happy to be able to hit a good approach and give myself a chance for the win.”
On a pair of days where fast and firm greens were the story, Hrostek managed only two three-putts in 54-holes, playing remarkably steady throughout the tournament. With his win, Hrostek becomes the first player in CSGA history to win both the Mid-Amateur and Public Links Championships in the same year, and only the second player to successfully capture both titles (Dave Szewczul, 1995 Public Links and 1996 Mid-Amateur).
This was without a doubt the best year of my golfing career,” said a smiling Hrostek after getting to hold the Mid-Amateur trophy for the first time. “To win four times in one season [Danbury Amateur, Public Links, Brooklawn Invitational and Mid-Amateur Championships] is just amazing and I couldn’t be happier.”
The shot of the day belonged to Cameron, the 2015 Tournament of Champions winner, who made a hole-in-one on the 162 yard par-3 4th hole in his final round. Cameron would go on to shoot 76 in the third round, finishing in fourth place with a total of 221 (+5). Philip Perry, the 2006 Russell C. Palmer Cup Champion and last year’s runner-up, finished in fifth place with rounds of 77-79-70—226 (+6).
The Connecticut Mid-Amateur marked the final CSGA major championship of 2015, but many of Connecticut’s top amateur’s, including Hrostek and Szewczul, will look to make a bid at history when Team Connecticut takes on Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the annual Tri-State Matches. The matches begin on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 20th and 21st at TPC Boston. Foursome matches played on day one followed by Singles matches on day two, and scoring and results will be available on the CSGA website at csgalinks.org