Dave Szewczul of Tunxis Plantation Country Club defeated Bill Torza of Timberlin Golf Course, 2 and 1, to capture the 7th Senior Match Play Championship, presented by Johnson Brunetti. Szewczul, the two-time defending champion, held off a late charge from Torza in the final match at Connecticut Golf Club to win the title on the 17th hole.
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Senior Match Play Championship is open to Connecticut senior golfers who are fifty five years of age and over by the start of the event. The tournament challenges competitors with a round of stroke play to determine the low sixteen match play qualifiers. Following the qualifying round, four rounds of match play are conducted over consecutive days, culminating in an eighteen-hole final match.
Szewczul trailed Torza early in the match and was 1-down heading to the 9th tee, but quickly turned things around. He won five of the next six holes, which statistically were the hardest stretch of holes for the week. The key moment in the match occured on Hole #14, a difficult par-5, where Torza narrowly missed a par putt to fall to 3-down with four holes to play. “The putt on #14 really swung the momentum and turned the match around,” Torza said.
However, the match was far from over, as Torza would make birdie on Hole #16 to cut the margin to two. Needing a birdie on Hole #17 to extend the match, he hit his approach shot to within 8 feet from the hole, but barely missed the birdie putt. A matching par from Szewczul was all that was needed to claim the title.
“It was a great match…either of us could have won today,” Szewczul said in his victory speech. “I am so fortunate to play and compete in these events, and winning is the icing on the cake.”
With his win, Szewczul captured his third Senior Match Play Title and became the first player in championship history to successfully defend his title. Szewczul, who also claimed medalist honors with an even par round of 72, played remarkably well the entire week. Until the final match, he had won all of his matches by a margin of at least five and never made it past the 16th hole. Torza proved to be the toughest opponent for Szewczul, but his steady ball striking and impressive short game would eventually prevail.
Next up for Szewczul is the 111th Connecticut Amateur Championship at New Haven Country Club, an event he last won in 1978. The reigning Connecticut Player of the Year and Senior Player of the Year is sure to be at the top of everyone's list for favorites to capture the title.
Earlier in the day, Szewczul and Torza both advanced to the final match after winning their semifinal matches. Szewczul knocked off Lou Stone of New Haven Country Club by a margin of 6 and 4. Stone, the 2008 Senior Match Play Champion, jumped out to an early lead and was all square through seven holes. However, Szewczul would win the next three holes and never look back, making a closing par on the 14th hole to advance.
Quite the opposite, Bill Torza, the 2007 Senior Match Play Champion, advanced to the finals by defeating David Zeid of New Haven Country Club on the 19th hole. The match was an exciting one to watch, with only a total of five holes halved the entire day. Torza won the 16th hole with a par after a poor tee shot by Zeid, but would bogey the final two holes, which forced the two competitors back to #1 for a sudden death playoff. A par by Torza on the par-5 was all that was needed to seal his spot in the final match.
The CSGA is back in action next Tuesday, when it hosts the 8th Connecticut Tournament of Champions at Bulls Bridge Golf Club. Admission is free and spectators are encouraged to attend. For more information, visit csgalinks.org.