WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – For most of the day during the 10th annual REMY CUP Matches at Hartford Golf Club on Saturday, the Connecticut Section PGA team of talented junior golfers appeared as if they would end a five-year losing streak versus the New England Section PGA.
After half of the six matches had ended, the Connecticut side had won 8 ½ of a possible nine points in the best-ball, alternate shot and 18-hole format thanks largely to three youngsters who often play together at Glastonbury Hills Country Club and are the top players on the Glastonbury High School team.
But the New England PGA team made a stirring comeback and salvaged a 9-9 tie when Jillian Johnson of Hingham, Mass., made a 4-foot birdie putt after partner Piper Jordan of Hingham had hit a clutch 8-iron tee shot on the par-3 17th hole in the alternate shot. It came after Laniah Moffett of Waterbury had made a 12-foot, par-saving putt to keep the Connecticut PGA team alive.
But a 2-and-1 victory for Jordan and Johnson enabled the New England PGA team to retain the REMY CUP as defending champions for the sixth consecutive year after Connecticut PGA started 3-0-1 in the competition that is comprised of 12-person teams of eight boys and four girls.
“We knew we had to win on about the 13th hole,” Jordan said. “We started slow, but after we tied the front nine, we knew we had to win the back. It was a lot of fun.”
The Connecticut PGA team had plenty of fun at the outset as Connor Goode and Charlie Dolan of Glastonbury showed why they were All-Conference and All-State players as juniors last year. Dolan made three of the team’s four birdies on the front nine as they shot 4-under-par 31 and took a 5-up lead over Nicolas Gebhardt of Rutland, Mass., and Jeffrey Lo of Lexington, Mass. Goode, who won both the Connecticut State Golf Association Junior Amateur and the Junior Connecticut PGA Championship this summer, and Dolan were 3-over on the back nine but still won 2-up on the way to a 7-and-5 victory to complete a three-point sweep.
“We were really solid in best-ball because we could be aggressive,” said Goode, a co-captain with Dolan on the Glastonbury High School golf team this year. “We weren’t as good in alternate shot, but it was good to experience team golf.”
Dolan, who tied for second with Goode in the Northeast Junior Swing Championship, said, “We play together almost every day, so we know each other’s game really well. If someone didn’t hit a good shot, the other came through.”
Daniel Casanta of Southbury and Anthony DePaolo of Cheshire continued the Connecticut PGA’s early dominance when they won the first three holes on the way to another three-point sweep over Erick Carson of Hingham and Braden Yeomans, the son of Greg Yeomans, a University of Connecticut graduate who was the pro at three clubs in Connecticut and is now the general manager and director of golf at the Bay Club at Mattapoisett in Marion, Mass. Casanta and DePaolo combined for five birdies and finished 2-under in a 5-and-4 victory.
“We played really good and hit a lot of fairways after the first few holes,” Casanta said.
Nick DiNino, another Glastonbury High School player, and Matthew Downes of Kensington had two birdies, one bogey and 13 pars in a 3-and-2 victory that produced 21/2 of three points against Cooper Love of Marshfield, Mass., and Ronan Mooney of Westminster, Mass. Glastonbury High School coach Tom Zelek was among those watching his three players, all of whom have been on the team since their freshman year.
“We didn’t play that well on the front nine (even par) but played well on the back (1 under),” DiNino said. “Matt hit the driver well so we were always in good position.”
But after getting only a half-point in the first three matches, the New England PGA captured 8 ½ of the last nine points to earn the tie.
James Robbins of North Andover, Mass., and Reese Jensen of Duxbury, Mass., started the New England PGA’s comeback with a 7-and-6 victory over Jonathan Hrlukowicz of Middlefield and Alex Elia of Wilton that capped a three-point sweep. In the first girls’ match, Miriam Pearlstein of Needham, Mass., and Lillian Guleserian of Westwood, Mass., won 3-and-1 in a three-point sweep of Kenna Roman of Kensington and Morgan Peterson of Glastonbury.
So, the final result depended on the final match, capped by Jordan’s clutch shot and Johnson’s winning putt for a 2-and-1 victory over Moffett and Aoife Devaney of Waterbury that produced 2 ½ points. Johnson is the daughter of Chip Johnson, who is in his 25th year as the pro at Hatherly Country Club in North Scituate, Mass., and the secretary and tournament chairman of the New England PGA.
“I think this is terrific,” said Johnson, who played for the United States in the PGA Cup for club professionals. “I never had an opportunity to do something like this, especially at a venue like this, the epitome of golf in Connecticut.”
Hartford Golf Club president David Polk, the former executive director of The First Tee of Connecticut, said the club was “very pleased and thrilled” to host the event in its 125th anniversary year. He said the catalyst for being the host was Gary Reynolds, the former head pro at the club who will be inducted into the PGA of America Hall of Fame on Nov. 3 during the organization’s annual meeting in Milwaukee, Wisc. Reynolds and his wife, Mim, the shop manager throughout 28 years at Hartford GC, were among the spectators at the event.
“We like to give back to the game, which is why we’ve hosted so many major events, including three USGA championships,” Polk said. “We want to share the club with as many people as possible because that’s what helps the game.”
The event is named in honor of Jim Remy, a former PGA of America president who was the vice president and general manager of the Okemo Golf Division at the Okemo Valley Golf Club in Ludlow, Vt., for more than 20 years. The PGA of America member since 1984 is in the Hall of Fame and currently a career services consultant for the two PGA Sections.
“They called and asked me if I wanted to have my name on the event, and I said of course,” Remy said. “It’s like a dream to have anything with my name on it, and I’m honored to have it on something like this. I have a strong appreciation for the two Sections and am really proud of their tradition.”