Falmouth, ME – Bill Torza had a good feeling heading into the 2013 New England Senior Amateur Championship. And following the first round of play at Portland Country Club, his premonition may be coming true.
Torza fired an even par 70 on Tuesday to jump out to a one-stroke lead over the 126-player field. Torza will look to capture the Harry B. McCracken Trophy on Wednesday when the entire field competes in a second and final round of play in Falmouth.
“I told a few of my friends in Connecticut that I really think I can win this,” said Torza, who owns and operates Torza’s Professional Golf Center in Cromwell (CT). “I had that on my mind and had a really positive attitude today.”
Torza currently holds a one-stroke lead over Bill Hermanson (Black Hall Club – CT), who carded a 1-over par 71, while a group of six competitors sit three strokes off the lead with scores of 3-over par 73.
While the field averaged a score of 80 today, Torza found a way to tame the challenging Portland Country Club layout today thanks to a hot putter.
“My game in the last month has changed dramatically because I have been thinking very positively about both my hitting and putting,” said Torza. “Putting has been the key. I am a pretty good player I think overall, but my putting has always been below satisfactory and today it was very good.”
After making the turn at 3-over par 38 on a back nine where he hit just three greens, Torza stepped onto the 1st tee and began a stretch where he would make birdie on three of his next four holes.
He first drained a 10-foot birdie putt on the 295-yard, par 4 1st hole. On the next hole – the 363-yard, par 4 2nd hole which was playing as the hardest hole on Tuesday – Torza came just inches from a second straight birdie.
“One of the guys I was playing with took a 10 on that hole and the other guy had a 7,” said Torza. “But somehow I found a way to hit a nice shot up there to 10 feet but left it short. I went on to make birdie on the next two holes so I had a really good stretch there.”
Indeed he did.
Torza sent his approach to three inches on the 378-yard, par 4 3rd hole and then found the bottom of the cup from 20 feet on the 146-yard, par 3 4th hole.
He capped off his round by making five straight pars for a front-nine score of 3-under par 32. Even during that final five-hole stretch, Torza experienced his fair share of ups and downs on a course where 836 bogies and 196 double bogies were made today.
“It is a really fair golf course,” said Torza. “There are a couple of holes that are really difficult. If you are hitting good tee shots you have a real chance out here and my tee shot was good today.”
On the 8th hole, Torza lipped out for birdie and then came through with an impressive up-and-down to save par on the 9th hole.
“I have always been in the middle of the field and it is always about putting,” said Torza of his past NEGA performances. “Today I had everything going well, and I think that I have a shot at it tomorrow.”
Torza’s performance continues what has been a strong summer of play thus far. He finished second – to fellow NEGA competitor and two-time champion of this event Dave Szewczul (Tunxis Plantation CC – CT) – at the 2013 Connecticut Senior Amateur Championship and the 2013 Connecticut Senior Match Play Championship.
Among the many who are looking to derail Torza’s momentum is Hermanson, who made birdie on three of his final six holes to more than make up for a triple bogey on the 3rd hole.
Hermanson is a perennial threat who – in 2012 – was inducted into the Connecticut State Golf Hall of Fame. Over the course of his storied career, Hermanson has won eight individual state-wide championships including five Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championships (1990-94, 2001) and the Connecticut Amateur Championship (1991).
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