Week of May 1st Tee Times

Zach Zaback Leads 113th Amateur After Day One

Links: Results  

Defending champion, Zach Zaback of TPC River Highlands, made five birdies on his way to an impressive round of two under-par 69 and a two-stroke lead after the first day at the 113th Connecticut Amateur Championship.  The state’s most prestigious amateur championship is being conducted June 15th – 19th at Black Hall Club in Old Lyme, Conn.

Steady rain and cool temperatures greeted the 121 players who began their quest for a coveted 32 spots in match play. After a burst of heavy rain forced the delay of play for an hour and a half in the morning, the first groups got underway at 9:00am.

This year’s Connecticut Amateur Championship marks the first time that the tournament will be conducted at Black Hall Club. Founded in 1965, the challenging par-71 layout was designed by famed architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and stretches to 6,666 yards for the competitors. While 2015 will mark the first Amateur contested at Black Hall, the club is no stranger to hosting the state’s best amateur and professional golfers. The club has previously hosted the Connecticut Mid-Amateur seven times in the twenty-eight year history of the event, and also hosted the 2003 Connecticut Open Championship.

Zaback, who started on the 10th hole in the morning, began his round with a birdie on the 12th hole, which played as the second most difficult hole in round one. After making birdie on number 14 and bogey on number 15, Zaback made the turn in one under-par, which tied him for the lead. He went on to add three more birdies on his second nine, including back-to-back birdies late in his round on holes number 6 and 7, to finish at two under-par for the championship.

“Today was a little different condition-wise; it was pretty tough out there. I just try to keep a positive attitude because I know it gets tough with the rain but all-in-all a good day.”

Zaback is safely positioned inside the cut and his round put him in primeposition to grab the #1 overall seed and the R.M. Grant Medalist award. Zaback, the reigning CSGA Player of the Year, began the week hoping to become the first back-to-back Amateur champion since Will Stricker accomplished the feat in 2007-08.

“It’s nice knowing that I have one under my belt already and knowing I’m defending this year,” said Zaback. “Hopefully this time next year I can be the defending champ again.”

Trailing Zaback by two shots is Kyle Roberts of Wethersfield CC, who played arguably the most solid round of any competitor in the field. Roberts made fourteen pars, matched with two birdies and just two bogies – the fewest of any competitor on day one – for an even par round of 71. Billy McDonald of Wethersfield Country Club, Jay Hogan of Watertown Golf Club and Paul Pastore of the Eclub of Fairfield County all trail Roberts by one after rounds of one over-par 72.

I struggled a little bit on the front nine, but I really got it going on the back nine,” said McDonald. “It was fun, I felt really good out there. The course is in great shape considering all the rain, and I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow.”

Play continues Tuesday with the second round of stroke play before the field of 121 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 in five days.

Despite the weather, the week marks a special one for the host club. Founded in 1965, Black Hall Club is also celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in conjunction with hosting the Connecticut Amateur Championship.

“Celebrating our fiftieth anniversary is a special week for the club, and having the Connecticut Amateur here means a lot to the membership and our staff,” said Andrew Campbell, who is now in his fourteenth season as Head PGA Professional at Black Hall. “Bill McNamara took the role as the chair of the Connecticut Amateur and he’s truly been unbelievable. When we met earlier this year, he said his goal was simple – for the competitors to leave on Friday and to not want to go anywhere else but here.”

What’s in a Cut?

Following Tuesday’s round, the low thirty-two players will advance to match play. After day one, there are 36 players at 77 or better, with another 12 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.

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, the defending champions of TPC River Highlands are in position to capture the title for the second straight year. The club is represented by a total of five players, with Zach Zaback (69), John Flaherty (74) and Patrick Hallisey (75) as the three lowest scores.

Notable Players

Brian Ahern, Wampanoag Country Club (1999 Amateur Champion) – 72 (+1)

K.J. Camera, Ellington Ridge Country Club (2002 Junior Amateur Champion) – 73 (+2)

Ben Day, New Haven Country Club (2015 Russell C. Palmer Cup Champion) – 73 (+2)

John Flaherty, TPC River Highlands (2015 Russell C. Palmer Cup Runner-Up) – 74 (+3)

About the Connecticut Amateur Championship

The Connecticut Amateur Championship is one of the nation’s oldest state amateur golf championships andis 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.