Written by Bob Carney, CSGA communications
Chris Fosdick kind figures the Connecticut Junior Amateur owes him one.
As the No. 8 seed in last year’s Connecticut Junior Amateur, Fosdick lost his opening match to one of the hottest golfers on the planet, a 17-year-old who had just returned from an AJGA weekend in which he made two holes in one and took the event by 10 shots. It took 19 holes, but it stung nevertheless.
Determined to make things easier on himself this year, Fosdick said his plan was “to shoot under par, and hopefully get the first seed.” Fosdick worked the plan. He shot 68 (-3) at Watertown Golf Club Monday to capture the Nick Pahoulis Medal and take the No. 1 seed. Still, he wasn’t entirely satisfied.
“I didn’t have the best finish. I finished bogey, par, par, par and I know two of those holes I should birdie,” said Fosdick who had it to -4 after 12 holes. “Given how I started, I wanted to shoot at least five under. But I just kind of ‘Cadillaced’ it there at the end. Cruise control, you know.” But he was smiling.
Fosdick, 2019 Division I individual champion and 2018 CIAC Oupen champion, has also won the United States Challenge Match Play Tournament against some very good New England juniors, will play for Florida Southern come fall, recalled today that of the many Connecticut stars born at Watertown, one was last year’s Connecticut open champion, John VanDerLaan, who won the Junior in 2012.
“It would really mean a lot to win here. John won here. And this is a tournament every junior in the state who plays competitively knows about.”
Near the top of the leader board were several familiar names, and one surprise.
Tommy Dallahan, a strong player from Hartford Golf Club, shot 70 (-1). So did Ben Carpenter of Darien who was determined, as Fosdick was, to improve over his 2018 seed. “My goal was to shoot under par and get a low seed,” said Carpenter. “Last year I got kind of a high seed (No. 8) and played a really tough opponent. (That was Raymond Gresalfi of Candlewood Lake, who defeated Carpenter 2 and 1.)
Milford’s Ben James made 7 birdies, including the final three holes, mixed with a couple of “others” to shoot even. Darien’s Alexander Gu made 16 consecutive pars to shoot the same number. Michael Hanratty of Avon, who made last year’s final day of the Connecticut Open at 16, was also even.
But one of those top seeds, Jake Napoli, who shot 69 (-2), was not on anybody’s list coming in. Napoli, a rising senior at Southington High School, didn’t take up golf until he was a freshman in high school and played baseball until two years ago. This was his second Junior Amateur.
“I got cut from the baseball team so I went out for golf and made it,” said a very satisfied Napoli after today’s round. He made five birdies today against three bogeys. “I feel great,” he said, in understatement.
Warm, sunny conditions with a light breeze made for low scoring, about four shots lower than last year’s qualifying round. Four over par made the 32-man match play field outright. Seven players at 76 (+5) played off for five spots. Making the field were: Kevin Lynch of TPC River Highlands, Ben Loomis of the Country Club of New Canaan, Tyler Woodward of Lyman Orchards Golf Club and Jackson Roman of Shuttle Meadow Country Club along with Tommy Rosati, son of Great River Golf Club golf professional Tom Rosati.
Tommy made the field in dramatic fashion. At eight over par standing on the 16th tee, he birdied the final three holes—a par 5 and two par 4s— and then birdied the par-5 first, making a 30-footer, to advance.
The Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship is open to all Connecticut junior golfers who have not reached their 19th birthday by the start of the event. Monday’s round of stroke play qualifying will be followed by two rounds of match play each day, culminating in an18-hole final on Thursday.