ORANGE, Conn. (Sept. 21, 2011) -- It was a different road to the finish, but the end result was just as sweet for Dave Szewczul (Tunxis Plantation GC - CT) who became the first golfer in history to capture back-to-back New England Senior Amateur Championships.
Szewczul carded a two-round score of 1-under par 141 at Race Brook Country Club to best day-one leader Andy Congdon (Wyantenuck CC - MA) by one stroke.
"It's unbelievable and I can't put into words how good it feels to have done this again and to prove that once was not a lucky thing," said Szewczul. "When you play such excellent players from all over New England for 36 holes, it's hard to win and you have to have things go your way."
One year ago, Szewczul dominated the field en route to a seven-stroke victory. This time around, the veteran found himself trailing for 33 holes but managed to remain steady and outlast his opponents for the one-stroke victory.
"I figured that golf is a funny game and that I just needed to hang in there," said Szewczul, who finished his second round with seven straight pars. "If I could stay close and maybe make a birdie or two, I would have a chance."
While Szewczul was able to make pars, one of his playing partners - Jim Hosey (Orchards GC - MA) - was 3-under par for the day and held a two-stroke advantage through 14 holes. On what is considered one of the toughest set of finishing holes around, however, Hosey ran into trouble as he suffered a triple bogey on the 15th hole and a double bogey on the 16th hole to end his title hopes and leave the door open for Szewczul and Congdon.
In fact, Congdon held a one-stroke lead after making a key birdie - his third of the day - on the 15th hole. Back-to-back bogies on the 16th and 17th holes turned the tide in Szewczul's favor as he grabbed hold of the lead for the final time on the 16th hole.
"I knew that I had a one-stroke lead, but then I missed a 6 footer for birdie on 17 and knew that I could have had a two-stroke lead," said Szewczul. "I hit my drive on 18 left and then hit a punch shot from 168 yards to 12 feet which was probably one of my best shots of the day. That shot came out exactly as I had envisioned it."
That final par sealed the victory as Congdon was unable to drain his long birdie putt to force a playoff.
Looking both tired and pensive following his victory, Szewczul took a few moments to reflect back on a season that has been full of "almost wins". For a golfer who has won nearly every Connecticut amateur golf title (he has won the Connecticut State Amateur, Connecticut Mid-State Amateur, Connecticut State Public Links and the Connecticut Senior Open), this year has been a story of just misses.
"I have been playing solid golf, but a stroke here or there has made a difference," said Szewczul, who finished second at the Connecticut State Senior Open Championship and the Palmer Cup, among others. "This year was a different grind. I came in not as sharp and was hoping to find it throughout the 36 holes... I didn't putt well today, but I hit some solid shots when I had to."
His effort paid off in the end and resulted in another victory... one that he will never forget.
"Winning the second time was harder," said Szewczul. "Everyone expects you to do well and I had high expectations as well and wanted to prove to myself that I could do it... it's just an unbelievable feeling."
The Super Senior
It took extra holes, but William Lee (The Course at Yale - CT) was able to claim victory in the Super Senior Division at the 2011 New England Senior Amateur Championship.
Following the completion of 36 holes, Lee found himself tied with Shawn McLoughlin (Ridgewood CC - CT) with a two-round score of 7-over par 149.
On the first playoff hole, however, Lee was able to make par and claim his first career Super Senior Division title.
View results for New England Senior Amateur Golf Championship