WATERTOWN — If the Connecticut Junior Amateur continues to be a tournament of breakouts, as it has been from its inception, Gunnar Granito could be this year’s poster child.
Granito, who has played three times in the championship and never made it to match play, is headed for the quarterfinals after his 1-up afternoon victory over No. 1 seed Chris Fosdick Tuesday afternoon at Watertown Golf Club. Granito took out another favorite, Matt Doyle of Madison, a finalist here last year, with a 1-up victory in the morning. Doyle had a 1-up lead after 15, but Granito tied it at 16 and birdied the 18th to win. Against Fosdick, Granito birdied 13 to go 1-up, then held on for the win as the two parred and tied the last five holes.
It may be Granito’s year. In June the New Canaan High School grad who plays out of Woodway CC broke through at the FCIAC Championship, another tournament at which he’d struggled mightily, when he won individual title.
“I had played horribly my freshman through junior years and all of a sudden this year I win it. It would be very cool to win here,” Granito said Tuesday.
He has two things working for him. First, his Epic Flash driver, which he broke at the FCIAC championship, is back in his bag after being repaired.
“I didn’t have it for the states,” Granito said. “I can hit it anywhere. I think I hit driver on every par 4 today. Even if it’s a hybrid or a 3-wood shot I’ll just choke down on the driver. That’s the go-to club for me.”
“I’ve been pretty consistent,” Granio said. “That’s what gotten me here. No big numbers. Just a lot of pars. I haven’t been three-putting and I’ve been getting up and down from everywhere.”
Granito, the No. 17 seed, will meet CC Farmington’s John Guerrera, the No. 25, seed Wednesday morning. That same bracket will feature the survivors of two other competitive matches, Calvin Smith of Wee Burn, and Michael Hanratty of Farmington Woods Country Club.
Smith defeated Country Club of New Canaan’s Ben Loomis, 3 and 1, as their fathers Foster Smith and Mark Loomis, teammates decades ago at Vanderbilt, looked on. Hanratty beat Hamden’s Alex Aurora in a slugfest that went 19 holes. Their finish went like this: Aurora chipped in for 2 to win the par-3 15th. Hanratty birdied the par-5 16th. Hanratty made a miraculous up-and-in to save par and tie the 17th. Aurora, now 1-down, birdied the 18th to send it to extra holes. Hanratty birdied the first to win.
In the other bracket looms the phenomenal 16-year-old from Milford, Ben James, who sailed through his Tuesday matches. He won his morning match against Division III champion Colby Norton 6 and 5, and then eliminated a tired Jack Bosworth, who had won in 20 holes over Chris Pieper of TPC River Highlands, 8 and 7. James will play Kevin Lynch of TPC River Highlands, the 30th seed who made it to match play in yesterday’s playoff. Lynch took out both No. 3 seed Ben Carpenter and then No. 14 seed Billy Nail of Greenwich.
James, seeded sixth, finds himself in a bracket of high seeds. Tommy Rosati, son of the Great River Golf Club professional Tom Rosati, No. 31, will play 26-seed Kyle St. Pierre of Newtown Country Club. St. Pierre knocked out No. 7 seed Alex Gu of Darien, 1 up, in the morning.