PAWTUCKET, RI (Sept, 2010) – Despite the long list of titles he has won over the years, Dave Szewczul (Tunxis Plantation GC) remains humbled by each victory. His most recent accomplishment came this week at the 13th New England Senior Amateur Championship at Pawtucket Country Club where he put on a dazzling show of golf en route to a final score of 5-under par 133 and a seven-stroke victory.
"I didn't have a specific game plan," said Szewczul, who finished T2 at this event one year ago. "I just felt that if I could continue to hit fairways on this golf course it would make the rest of my game set up much better. I drove it perfectly both days and consequently that set up my second shots. I never had any pressure or tough situations to come out of."
While his journey to the top may have appeared inevitable, Szewczul is simply thankful that he is still playing golf. After all, it was nine years ago when he was told that he would never play again. It took three surgeries and the expert touch of Dr. Bill Morgan - the team physician for the Boston Red Sox - who gave Szewczul hope. Much like he did for Nomar Garciaparra in 2001 and Curt Schilling and his bloody tendon in 2004, Dr. Morgan performed reconstructive surgery on Szewczul's left wrist and gave him a second chance at golf.
"Like I said out there [during the trophy ceremony], we are lucky; I am lucky," said Szewczul, who was forced to wear an shoulder-to-wrist cast and could not compete for 18 months following the surgery. "I count my lucky stars that I am able to play. I drive by my golf course and see people playing and they don't realize how lucky they are to hold a golf club. I am competitive as anybody, but I don't get that upset anymore. Compared to where I was and what I could have been, I am a very lucky guy."
That renewed appreciation for the game shined through this week as Szewczul put on a masterful show of golf from tee to green. Over the course of 36 holes, there were no Hail Mary putts or dramatic chip ins from the fairway. Rather, it was a clinic on what good can happen when you consistently find the fairway and green.
Following his 4-under par 65 performance on Monday, the 56 year old from Farmington entered today's round with veteran poise and closed the door of opportunity for those looking to close the gap out of the gate. Szewczul made six straight pars before draining a 15-foot birdie putt on the 173-yard, par 3 7th hole. He made the turn at 1-under par 34 which was seven shots ahead of his closest competitor. He went on to fire an even par 34 on the back nine to seal his victory. He finished with nine birdies and four bogies and was the only player to finish under par for the tournament.
"I didn't do anything spectacular out there," said Szewczul. "I was very steady. I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens, and I didn't get myself in trouble."
The 2010 Connecticut Senior Open Champion has been a dominating force in Connecticut circles as he has captured the Connecticut State Amateur, Connecticut Mid-State Amateur and Connecticut State Public Links Championships. In addition to his local and regional titles, he has been shining star nationally by competing in 15 USGA Championships and two British Amateur Championships. He also - along the way - enjoyed a practice round with Arnold Palmer prior to the 2004 U.S. Senior Open Championship.
"Playing with Arnold was a thrill and an honor but they are two different things," said Szewczul. "To win a tournament against your peers is just so gratifying."
Now with his first New England Senior Amateur Championship title in hand, Szewczul is looking to keep the momentum going next week when he competes in the 2010 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship. With his 15-year-old son David by his side (much like he was six years ago when he played with Palmer), Szewczul will look to put on a performance that would make even The King proud.
"I feel good and I feel healthy," said Szewczul. "I have been playing well and will hopefully continue to drive the ball like I have been. That is the key to this game. If you don't drive the ball well, you are playing catch up the rest of the way."
Finishing in second place today was Robert Linn (Berkshire Hills CC) with a score of 2-over par 140. One year ago during his senior amateur debut, Linn turned the tables on Szewczul by winning this title by a three-stroke margin at Wyantenuck Country Club.
Moving up the scoreboard on day two courtesy of rounds of even par 69 (the second lowest score posted on Wednesday) and finishing in a tie for third place were two Bay State golfers - Paul Couture(Pleasant Valley CC) and Gary Palmer(Segregansett CC).
The Super Senior
Paul Quigley (Swansea CC) became the second player in the event's 13-year history to win both the Harry B. McCracken Senior Amateur Trophy and the Super Senior Division title. Quigley, the 2004 winner of this event, posted a final score of 6-over par 144. One year ago, Shawn McLoughlin (Ridgewood CC) - the 2000 champion - became the first to accomplish that feat.
This latest accomplishment continues what has been another strong summer of golf for the 65-year-old Quigley. In July, Quigley, who has won more Rhode Island events than anyone in history, became what is believed to be the oldest man ever to reach the quarterfinals of the RIGA Amateur Championship.
He is a three-time champion of that event (his most recent coming in 2000) and is the reigning RIGA Senior Champion who earlier this summer captured the 2010 RIGA Four-Ball Championship with Bobby Leopold.
View results for New England Senior Amateur Golf Championship