New York Senior: Doug Benedict, Chuck Connolly win divisions

BINGHAMTON, NY (Oct. 6, 2011) -- On a day where scores were down at Vestal Hills Country Club after a wet and windy day two, the final round of the Men’s Senior and Super Senior Championship saw both Doug Benedict and Chuck Connolly protect their 36-hole leads, and take home championships in their respective divisions.

Although the front nine played one stroke lower (41 day two, 40 on day three) and the back nine two stokes lower (42, 40) no players were able to shoot under par. In the senior division, Benedict shot a five-over 77, matching his first round score. His 54-hole total of 224 (+8) gave him a three stroke victory over a trio of golfers who totaled 229 – Doug Vergith, 18-hole leader Frank Plata, and John Benware.

It wasn’t a picture perfect day for Benedict, but he never wavered.

“I never go into a tournament not expecting to win,” said Benedict, who won the NYSGA Mid-Am in 1994. “You always expect to, figuring out how it do it is the hard part.”

After his second round 70, Benedict expressed concern about his iron game. It acted up again today.

“(My iron game) started off okay the first two holes, but the next four or five I was hitting my irons all over the place,” said Benedict. “I didn’t feel like I was nervous, but there’s something going on in my iron play. But I made the turn in 39 so I scrapped it around.”

After the front nine he nearly coughed it up – but managed to weather the storm after a couple mistakes.

“My second shot on the tenth hole I was by a pine tree and my club caught a branch in the backswing and pushed the shot on to the right,” said Benedict. “I didn’t get it up and down there, then I just hit a terrible drive on 11. After I got by 11 I played the last seven holes one-under par. Don’t think I missed a green.”

Benedict, who played in the Senior Am at Vestal Hills six years ago, said knowledge of the greens was an advantage of his all week. He made three birdies total, six bogeys (only one on the back nine) and one double bogey.

He had a good feeling about this week since he found out it would be at Vestal Hills.

“I was really excited when I found out the Senior Am would be held here again,” said Benedict. “I’d love to have them come back here again.”

Benware shot his highest round of the championship, a 78. After a second round 83, Plata crawled his way back up with a 76. Vergith played his best round of the championship. He shot a solid 75 – five bogeys and two birdies.

Connolly came into the week as defending champion in both divisions. He left with still one of his titles intact. He has now won three Senior Championships and two Super Senior Championships.

He shot an 80 on the day, giving him a 54-hole score of 234. He eked out the victory over John Baker, who shot a 77 and had a 54-hole score of 235.

Unlike Benedict, Connolly said he didn’t exactly feel cool and confident out on the course today.

“It was a picture of anxiety,” Connolly said laughing. “If they had a camera and took my picture they could put it in the dictionary right next to the word ‘anxiety’. I couldn’t calm myself down.”

Connolly made three birdies, but increased his bogeys from four in round two to seven today. After going double bogeyless in round two, he had two today.

But a win, is a win, is a win.

I’m really happy win, for sure,” said Connolly. “It’s just disappointing to not play like you know you can play, because I can still play like I did when I was 55. I haven’t lost any length or anything, it’s just a matter of getting my head in the right spot.”

A shaky round after nine holes got shakier after the turn for Connolly.

“I had two three-putts on the front, but I had a couple birdies, so I hit some good shots,” said Connolly. “I played the front in 38 and was doing okay. Then I hit it into a trap on ten and made a double bogey. That made me very anxious, and I proceeded to make another bogey and another double bogey.”

He could exhale though when all the scores came in, and he was champion once again.

“In golf there’s no defense, you can’t control what other people do,” said Connolly. “I just wanted to play like I know I can play. If that wins it wins, that’s all you got. I’m happy to win the Super Senior.”

ABOUT THE New York Senior Amateur

Entries will be limited to male amateur golfers who enjoy membership privileges at Clubs belonging to the New York State Golf Association, or are NYSGA Associate Members. Entrants must have attained their 55th birthday. Super Senior entrants must have attained their 65th birthday.

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