Despite missing longtime stalwarts Dave Szewczul and close friend and frequent partner Bill Hermanson, the Connecticut State Golf Association notched a rare victory over the Connecticut Section PGA in the 47th Julius Boros Challenge Cup Matches at New Haven Country Club.
Szewczul, a 10-time CSGA Player of the Year and Senior Player of the Year, missed the Nassau-style competition for only sixth time since its inception because of pending fusion back surgery, while Hermanson failed for qualify for the first time in years. But with six “rookies” on the 14-man team, the amateurs ended a six-year losing streak with a 36.5-26.5 victory to reduce the pros’ series lead to 34-13.
Two of the CSGA’s newcomers, Mike Kennedy (New Haven CC) and Nick Waddington (Manchester CC), led the way for the amateurs with eight of nine points. Waddington, whose father played in the Challenge Cup more than 30 years ago, had three birdies, including on their final hole, the par-3 ninth, to earn all but a half-point in the singles.
Brian Ahern (Wampanoag CC-West Hartford) and Kyle Nolin (Tallwood CC-Hebron) earned seven points for the CSGA, and Nick Cook (Tashua Knolls GC-Trumbull) and Rob Neaton (Black Hall Club-Old Lyme) had six points. Cook is a two-time Connecticut Open champion who is a reinstated amateur.
“It’s a surprise, it really is,” said former State Amateur champion Roger Everin who was in the final year of his CSGA captaincy. “On paper, our side was pretty inexperienced. We had six players who had never played in the event before, but they came through beautifully.”
As they had in the past as all six of the first-timers had won major CSGA championships. Meanwhile, the Section PGA team had nearly 100 years of Challenge Cup experience.
Other members of the winning team were Tom Brett (Tallwood CC-Hebron), Pat McGuiness (Keney Park GC-Hartford), Ben Conroy (New Haven CC), Chris Maxwell (CC of Farmington), Richard Dowling (EClub of Connecticut), Patrick Lynch (New Haven CC), Brent Dietz (Cedar Knob GC-Somers) and Ron Soccoli (New Haven CC).
Seniors Fran Marrello (Canaan CC) and Bill Downes (Great Horse CC-Hampden, Mass.) led the Section PGA side with 8.5 points, while Ian Marshall (Watertown GC) and one of two captain’s picks, Suzy Whaley (Suzy Whaley Golf), had seven points. Marrello tied Szewczul for most Challenge Cup starts, while it was the second appearance for Whaley, the only female to compete in the event. Whaley qualified for the 2003 Greater Hartford Open when she won the 2002 Section Championship and is the first woman to be elected a PGA of America official. She will be inducted president on Nov. 9 in Palm Springs, Calif.
Other members of the Section PGA team were William Wallis (New Haven CC), Billy Street (Whitney Farms GC-Monroe), Jordan Gosler (Twin Hills CC-Coventry), Zac Stennett (Tallwood CC), Adam D’Amario (Indian Hill CC-Newington), James Giampaolo (Hawks Landing CC-Southington), Chris Tallman (Cold Spring CC-Belchertown, Mass.), David Dell (Springfield CC) and Fran Leja (Springfield CC).
Ralph Salito (CC of Waterbury), who played in the Challenge Cup seven times, was the first-year captain of the Section team, succeeding PGA Life Member Dennis Coscina, winner of a record eight Section PGA Championships who had gone 6-1 as a captain. Coscina was the honorary captain, while John Nowobilski, who retired as head pro at Tallwood CC in December after 36 years, was the assistant captain.
The Challenge Cup was created in 1972 in honor of World Golf Hall of Fame member Julius Boros, a Fairfield native whose PGA Tour victories included two U.S. Opens a PGA Championship. The event was played for three years at Tumble Brook CC in Bloomfield before moving to New Haven CC, which has been the host club since 1975.
Singles and team events are played simultaneously. Two-man teams play best-ball, while each member of the team also plays a singles against a member of the other team. Each match is worth three points – front nine, back nine, total – so nine points are at stake in each foursome. The winning team has its name inscribed on the Boros Cup.