WESTPORT — To win a playoff to defeat a field of competitors from across the state once is remarkable.
To win a three-way playoff to top a field of 59 teams from across Connecticut and repeat as champions is singular.
Darien junior golfers Alex Gu and Calvin Smith vaulted into that select club Thursday by capturing the 50th annual Chappa Memorial Golf Tournament at Longshore Golf Course.
Gu and Smith outfought Greenwich’s Jackson Fretty and Billy Nail as well as New Canaan’s Gunnar Granito and Liam O’Neill over a three-hole playoff to repeat as champs and take home the Chappa Memorial first prize golf bags.
“It’s unbelievable. The first time we won was incredible,” Gu said. “To defend our title is amazing.”
In the playoff, where the competitors played the No. 1 hole (328-yard, par 4) twice and the 18th hole (395-yard, dogleg right, par-4, the 2nd toughest hole on the course) once, it was Gu who birdied No. 1 twice and nearly chipped in on No. 18 for an easy par.
“I birdied No. 1 three times today,” Gu said. “In the playoff, I had 82 yards and chipped to 4-feet for birdie. Then I had 79 yards and chipped to 6-feet for the winning birdie. Maybe they should put a plaque at that hole for me.”
And why not. The field of 59 teams had to navigate tough pin placements throughout the 5,632-yard, par-69 layout.
Longshore uses the same pin placement for the club championship final.
The dynamic Darien duo were six-under par through 10 holes. But they bogied Nos. 13 and 14.
“Alex had a putt on the 18th hole to win it outright. But he missed,” Darien coach Tom O’Donnell said. “I knew he’d be so determined in the playoff. He and Calvin were not going to let a second title get away.”
Sophomore Jake Ivan-Pal and senior Tommy Rosati of Notre Dame-West Haven spent most of the day atop the leaderboard at 3-under-par 66. Their five birdies showed the experience the duo has in dealing with Longshore.
“The conditions were great. The pin placements were tucked,” Ivan-Pal said. “The plan we mapped out worked out well.”
But they had no answer for the FCIAC trio of Darien, Greenwich and New Canaan. After a long regular season, playing two-man, best-ball format is a welcome change for the golfers.
“This format is fun. But it’s all about teamwork,” Gu said.
“Having trust in each other is the critical factor,” Darien’s Smith said.
It wasn’t surprising that it came down to Darien and Greenwich. The Blue Wave and Cardinals had done battle last Wednesday at fabled Round Hill Country Club with Greenwich winning 146-147.
“Our respect for Greenwich is immense,” O’Donnell said. “So it’s always more meaningful when you get a favorable result against a team you hold in such high regard.”
50th CHAPPA MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT
At Longshore GC, par 69. 59 teams. 2-man, best ball format.