Ben Day Wins Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship

Ben Day won the 32nd Connecticut Mid-Amateur Championship held at Shuttle Meadow Country Club in a playoff over Rick Hayes of Silver Spring, being the only players under par at 4-under for the 54-hole championship.

HARTFORD, Conn – Ben Day survived a late scare and then parred the first playoff hole to defeat Rick Hayes and win the Connecticut State Golf Association Mid-Am Championship at Shuttle Meadow Country Club in Kensington.

Day, 38, of the Country Club of Waterbury, thought he had lost after holding a five-stroke lead entering the final round, but Hayes missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to create overtime. Hayes, of Silver Spring CC in Ridgefield, hit his drive on the playoff hole into the trees and was on his way to a bogey but never putted out as Day captured the title with his birdie.

“I thought it was over,” said Day, who closed with a 2-over-par 73 for a 54-hole total of 4-under 209. “I thought he would make (the birdie putt). But as I say that, it’s kind of a cool feeling to go from me thinking that I’d lost, I mean Rick played a great (final) round, and to come back and be sitting here the winner is a cool feeling.”

Hayes closed with 67, one of only two rounds in the 60s in the final round, but the 5-footer to win stuck with him.

“I hit a pretty good chip, to be honest,” said Hayes, the reigning Russell C. Palmer Cup champion who shared the first-round lead with Day at 68. “It just came out hotter than I thought. I rolled past the cup, and I watched it curl a little bit to the left, which means my putt coming back would curl a little right. But it was just dead straight. If I went back there right now, I’d hit it the same way. It’s just one of those things. It’s golf.”

Day, the 2015 Palmer Cup winner, opened with two 68s for a five-stroke lead over CSGA Amateur champion Rick Dowling (Golf Performance Center in Ridgefield), with Hayes six back. But while Day struggled after an opening birdie in the final round, Hayes charged from behind, birdying the 11th, 14th and 15th holes to get within a shot. When Day bogeyed No. 17, they were tied, setting the stage for the fateful closing hole.

Dowling finished third at 215, one better than defending champion Ben Conroy of New Haven CC, Mike Carey of East Hartford GC and James Sheltman of Alling Memorial GC in New Haven.

Peter Tomlinson of Orange Hills CC shot a bogey-free, 5-under 67 to score a five-stroke victory in the Tettlebach Division (Under 55) of the CSGA Tournament of Champions at Bull’s Bridge GC in South Kent. Tomlinson easily outdistanced runner-up Nicholas Waddington of Manchester CC. In the Siderowf Division (55 and Over), Eric Litke of Keney GC in Hartford had five birdies in a 2-under 70 for a three-stroke victory over Bob Murphy of Brownson CC in Stratford and Jim Romaniello of Shorehaven GC in Norwalk. CSGA executive director Mike Moraghan of the Country Club of Waterbury, former coach of the University of Virginia men’s golf team, shot 74 to finish in a five-way tie for fourth.


Longtime PGA Tour caddie Joe LaCava of Newtown and his son, Joe Jr., won the CSGA Father-Son Net Tournament at Redding CC. Joe Sr., a 7 handicap, and his son combined to shoot a best-ball net 6-under 65 for a three-stroke victory over Michael and Joe Gianatti of Southington CC.

LaCava, 55, currently caddies for Tiger Woods after previously carrying for players such as Fred Couples, Davis Love III, Justin Leonard and Dustin Johnson, whom he worked for before joining Woods in 2011.

LaCava helped Woods win the Masters in April, 27 years after he did likewise with Couples. On Aug. 14, on the eve of the BMW Championship in Chicago, LaCava was inducted into Caddie Hall of Fame that already included the likes of Jim “Bones” Mackay, Angelo Argea and Connecticut natives Joe “Gypsy” Grillo and the late Bruce Edwards. Woods was on hand for the ceremony.

LaCava began his caddie career working for cousin Ken Green of Danbury, who won five PGA Tour titles, was a member of the 1989 U.S. Ryder Cup Team and played on the PGA Tour Champions before having the lower part of his right leg amputated after a horrific recreational vehicle accident in 2009 that killed his brother, girlfriend and dog.


James Giampaolo shot a course record-tying 5-under 67 in the morning and tacked on a 69 in the afternoon to capture the Connecticut Section PGA Assistant Championship at Timberlin GC in Berlin.

Giampaolo, of Shuttle Meadow CC in Kensington, finished five strokes ahead of 2012 champion and PGA Active Member Kyle Bilodeau. Matt Rosengrant of Rock Ridge CC in Newtown was third at 148.

With the victory, Giampaolo advanced to the National Car Rental Assistant PGA Championship on Nov. 14-17 on the Wanamaker Course at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. He will be joined by Rosengrant, who earned the second spot for eligible professionals in the 132-man field representing the PGA of America’s 41 nationwide Sections that will play for $150,000.


Longtime Connecticut resident Suzy Whaley has her team for the inaugural Women’s PGA Cup on Oct. 22-26 at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas.

Whaley, the first female president of the PGA of America, will captain the American side in a first-of-its-kind team competition for women PGA members from around the world. The international showcase also includes teams from Australia, Canada, Great Britain and Ireland and Sweden. The best three of five scores each day in the 54-hole, stroke-play tournament will determine the winner.

The U.S. team was determined after a two-year points system that concluded with the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional National Championship in Pinehurst, N.C. Players earning spots for the American side were Seul-Ki Park of Winchester, Mass.; Joanna Coe of Lutherville Timonium, Md.; Ashley Grier of Springfield, Pa.; Alison Curdt of Reseda, Calif., and Brittany Kelly of Indianapolis, Ind.

“I am excited to see our team finalized and can now prepare for the wonderful opportunity that lies ahead in the first Women’s PGA Cup,” Whaley said. “It is an honor to serve as captain and to have a talented team representing their respective PGA sections and home facilities. We anticipate a great week of golf and a rare chance to build friendships with PGA professionals from around the world.”

Whaley is a PGA of America and LPGA member and PGA Master professional who lived in Farmington and Cromwell before moving to Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., where she is PGA Director of Instruction at The Country Club of Mirasol and for Suzy Whaley Golf.

Park is an assistant pro at Winchester (Mass.) CC; Coe is the reigning PGA Women’s Stroke Play Champions and assistant pro at Baltimore CC; Curdt is a PGA/LPGA professional, the PGA Director of Instruction at Wood Ranch GC in Simi, Calif., and national vice president of the LPGA Teaching & Club Professional Division; Grier is an assistant pro at Overbrook GC in Bryn Mawr, Pa., and Kelly is an assistant pro at the Woodland CC in Carmel, Ind., who clinched her spot on the team by finishing tied for 12th in the LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals National Championship. Coe and Grier tied for 51st and 71st, respectively, in the PGA Professional Championship in May.

The event has no purse, just the honor of representing your country in a distinct and unique international competition. In order to be on a team, a player must be in good standing with their respective PGA and active in golf as a teacher, coach or working as a club professional or assistant. Tour players who primarily compete for a living are not eligible to participate.

Before being captain, Whaley will compete in the LPGA Legends Tour’s BJ’s Charity Championship on Friday at The Ridge Club in Sandwich, Mass. For the second consecutive year, Whaley will be paired in the best-ball event in which teams play four-ball (better ball of partners) on the front nine and a scramble format on the back nine with Michelle McGann, whom she competed against on the LPGA Tour in the early 1990s. Michelle’s father, Buck, caddied for Whaley in the 2003 Canon Greater Hartford after she became the first woman to qualify for a PGA Tour event in 57 years when she won the 2002 Connecticut Section PGA Championship.

Alicia Dobos of Greenwich, a native of Peru and now the Director of Instruction at famed Winged Foot GC in Mamaroneck, N.Y., is also in the 28-player field and paired with Swedish native Liselotte Neumann. Trish Johnson and Laura Davies of England won in 2018, but Davies can’t play this year because of a scheduling conflict so Johnson will be paired with frequent Solheim Cup opponent Brandie Burton.

The LPGA Legends of Golf return to Cape Cod Friday September 6 for the BJ’s Charity Championship featuring last year’s winner Great Britain’s Trish Johnson.

Admission is free, but donations are welcome at the gate for the BJ’s Charitable Foundation.

Starting times and pairings for the event are:

10 a.m.: Jane Blalock, Cambridge, Mass., and Patricia Meunier-Labouc, Jupiter, Fla.; Elaine Crosby, Jackson, Mich., and Nancy Scranton, St. Augustine, Fla.

10:15: Allison Finney, Bermuda Dunes, Calif., and Janet Anderson, Phoenix, Ariz; Gail Graham, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, and *-Hollis Stacy, Holmes Beach, Fla.

10:30: *-Donna Caponi, Rockport, Mass., and *-Betsy King, Scottsdale, Ariz.; *-Sandra Haynie, Hurst, Texas, and Sandra Palmer, Rancho Mirage, Calif.

10:45: *-Jan Stephenson, Sydney, Australia, and Lorie Kane, Prince Edward Island, Canada; *-Pat Bradley, West Hyannisport, Mass., and Wendy Ward, Spokane, Wash.

11:00: Maria Hjorth McBride, Orlando, Fla., and Laurie Rinker, Stuart, Fla.; Whaley, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and McGann, North Palm Beach, Fla.

11:15: Johnson, London, England, and Burton, LaVerne, Calif.; Dibos, Greenwich, Conn., and Neumann, Rancho Mirage, Calif.

11:30: Rosie Jones, Hilton Head, S.C., and Michele Redman, Plymouth, Minn.; Pat Hurst, Danville, Calif., and *-Juli Inkster, Los Altos, Calif.

*–member of LPGA/World Golf Hall of Fame

Worked as sports writer for The Hartford Courant for 38 years before retiring in 2008. His major beats at the paper were golf, the Hartford Whalers, University of Connecticut men’s and women’s basketball, Yale football, United States and World Figure Skating Championships and ski columnist. He has covered every PGA Tour stop in Connecticut since 1971, along with 30 Masters, 25 U.S. Opens, four PGA Championships, 12 Deutsche Bank Championships, 15 Westchester (N.Y.) Classics and four Ryder Cups. He has won several Golf Writers Association of America writing awards, including a first place for a feature on John Daly, and was elected to the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame in 2009. He also worked for the Connecticut Whale hockey team for two years when they were renamed by former Hartford Whalers managing general partner Howard Baldwin, who had become the marketing director of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the top affiliate of the New York Rangers.

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