(Pat Griffin fired a one-under par 71 to capture the Tettelbach Division of the Tournament of Champions)
September 4, 2018: On Tuesday Patrick Griffin’s very good season got much better.
And so did Bill Hermanson’s.
Griffin, who has contended in multiple CSGA events this year beginning with the Palmer Cup in May, won the 13th Tournament of Champions by a shot over Josh Cameron of Norwich Golf Club. On a beautiful Bull’s Bridge course that seemed to have escaped the devastation wrought by extreme weather across the state, Griffin, of Blue Fox Run, beat par by a shot. Despite two late bogeys, he shot 71 (-1) the only player among 83 in either the Open or Senior divisions to finish in red figures. Defending champion Brent Dietz tied third with 73.
The 46-year-old Griffin credited the experience of hundreds of CSGA events since he was a junior, and a whole lot of recent practice with his steadiness Tuesday, especially after missing a short birdie attempt at 15 that would have taken him to -4, and a subsequent three-putt bogey on the par-3 sixteenth.
With a son in college and a daughter about to go, Griffin says he has had more time to practice this season and it has paid off. He has contended in every event he’s entered: He tied 7th at the Palmer Cup. He reached the round of 16 at the Connecticut Amateur, losing to eventual champion Ben Conroy. He tied third at last month’s Mid-Amateur (with Hermanson) and was medalist at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifier at Apawamis in July. He will compete for the third time in that championship later this month in Charlotte, N.C.
“It’s been a really good year. I’ve worked hard. I don’t have a teacher, but I’ve practiced a lot. And I’m coming back from year when I was very sick, had a cancer scare, and was just happy to play at all. This year I’ve been hitting a lot of balls. I just revert to what my old mentor, John Murphy, who was the head pro at Farmington Country Club, told me. Load into my right side. And stay connected. I can’t do the stuff like stack and tilt that that young guys do. My game is hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens and generally I’m a pretty good putter.”
And he has a cadre at Blue Fox Run, including Tom Scarrozzo and 2016 Senior Match Play Champion Bruce Kraczkowsky who keep him sharp.
In the Siderowf (Senior) Division, former Connecticut Amateur, Mid-Amateur and Senior Amateur Champion Hermanson of Black Hall Club shot even-par 72, then outlasted 2018 Senior Match Play Champion Patrick McGuiness of Keney Park and Mike Fitzpatrick of H. Smith Richardson to win on the third playoff hole. Hermanson, 61, putted for eagle on the first two extra holes, hitting the fringe of the par-5 first in two and driving the short par-four second to 20 feet. He birdied both, then parred the 393-yard par-four third when McGuiness drove right into an unplayable lie and Fitzpatrick failed to get up and down from in front of the green.
Hermanson was as solid as Griffin, maybe more so. He hit 17 greens in regulation (20 if you count the playoff) and recorded an opening eagle, a closing birdie and 14 pars in between. “I hit the ball really well,” said Hermanson, who is also a previous Tournament of Champions (Open Division) winner. “I hit a lot of greens, even missing a few birdie putts. But I’m pleased.”
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 50 Championships, Qualifiers and One-Day Tournaments throughout the year, in addition to administering handicaps for over 40,000 members and 181 member clubs. As a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization, the CSGA supports a variety of golf organizations within Connecticut, including the Connecticut Women’s Golf Association, Southern New England Women’s Golf Association, The First Tee, the Connecticut PGA, and the CSGA Scholarship Fund in honor of Widdy Neale.