Sophia Sarrazin (15) wins Connecticut Women’s Amateur

Sophia Sarrazin (15) won the 55th Connecticut Women’s Amateur shooting 73-71-144 to win by 4 over Jen Holland.

HARWINTON, Conn. – Though only 15 years old, Sophia Sarrazin had a simple and thorough game plan for her Connecticut State Women’s Amateur Golf Championship debut.

“My goal was just to play with confidence and the best I could and finish in a good position whether that meant winning or finishing fifth,” said Sarrazin, who will be a junior at the Hamden Hall County Day School. “I wanted to play fearless and with confidence but was very nervous coming into the end because I realized this is a big tournament with a lot of really amazing players, so it means a lot of win it.”

Sarrazin fulfilled all of her objectives in becoming what is believed to be the first lefthander to triumph in 55 championships. Her closing 1-under-par 71, the only sub-par round of the tournament, gave her a 36-hole total of 1-over 145 and a four-stroke victory over 2008 winner Jen Holland at Fairview Farm Golf Course on Thursday. Sarrazin also won the Junior Division (17 and under) by 18 strokes over Jensie Nicholas of Tashua Knolls Golf Course in Trumbull.

Mia Grzywinski, who had a one-stroke lead after an opening 73, was 4-over the first four holes, including an unlucky double-bogey 7 on No. 3, on the way to an 80 that dropped her into a tie for third with Gia Watkins of Brooklawn CC in Fairfield (75).

Sarrazin, of Westport and The Patterson Club in Fairfield, birdied three of the first six holes to overtake the faltering Grzywinski and led Holland by three after a 2-under 34 on the front nine. A second consecutive three-putt at the 10th hole cut Sarrazin’s lead to two, but she made a 9-foot birdie putt at No. 11 and led by at least three down the stretch thanks to a clutch finish. After slicing her drive into a pond on the way to a bogey at the 15th hole, she made saving par putts of 3 and 6 feet at Nos. 16 and 17 and two-putted the par-5 18th to finish in the red for the day.

Advice from her mother/caddie Susan, who again drove a cart and rode with her daughter, helped after the errant drive on No. 15.

“My mom just told me, ‘Relax. Breath!!” Sophia said with a laugh. “I tried not to let the drive into the water bother me, just tried to make at least a bogey, which I did. The whole time I just was thinking to play to win, not play scared, which is when I play my best golf. I had no clue how I stood the whole way so I didn’t want to play like I had already won. I wanted to play like I was still trying to win because anything can happen on the last three holes, and I think I did that so that’s why I’m so excited about winning.”

Jen Holland of Lyman Orchards, who won the Amateur in 2008, could not get putts to fall on the back nine, but took home the Senior enior Division (ages 50-59) trophy.

The victory helped erase some of the frustration of missing her first golf season at Hamden Hall Country Day School because spring sports were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She had transferred from Staples High School in Westport and hopes to play in the fall after defending in the Borck Junior Tournament at the Country Club of New Canaan on Monday.

“I decided to go to Hamden Hall to play on a more competitive golf team,” Sarrazin said, “so it was really frustrating not to be able to play or travel.”

The 56-year-old Holland would have liked to add a second title, but she was extremely upbeat after a record eighth top-5 finish and fifth runner-up in the Senior Division (50-59). That came after a record eighth Southern New England Women’s Golf Association Championship victory last week, and she’ll play in the Danbury Amateur at Richter Park GC on Saturday and Sunday as she tries to capture the Connecticut State Golf Association Liz Janangelo Caron Women’s Player of the Year Award for the fourth time that it has been presented.

“I’m capable of shooting 71, too, but not today because my game wasn’t stellar and I had too many blunders,” said Holland, a four-time club champion at Lyman Orchards GC in Middlefield and a teacher at Regional School District No. 13 in Durham. “It’s disappointing to lose, but I’m very happy to be in the mix with the young kids. I could be their grandmother, but I like it, especially being so competitive with them after playing only three months this year because of teaching at home, which is harder than being in the classroom.”

The always gracious Holland then gave credit where credit was due.

“Sophia was fantastic,” Holland said. “She and Mia both hit shot after shot that were great, and Mia got unlucky on the third hole.”

Grzywinski, 19, who will be a sophomore at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, never fully recovered from a bogey-par-double bogey-bogey start. At the third hole, her second shot, only slightly off line, bounded into deep rough, leading to the double-bogey 7 while Sarrazin and Holland were each making birdie.

“That was unfortunate, but it’s golf,” Grzywinski said of her third hole. “You have to accept it, but it definitely knocked me out of my rhythm and I started pressing.”

Grzywinski bogeyed the ninth hole to turn in 5-over 41 and bogeyed No. 12 to fall six strokes back. She made a 25-foot birdie putt at the 15th but closed with three bogeys, including on the par-5 16th and 18th holes.

“Today just wasn’t my day,” said Grzywinski, of the Country Club of Farmington. “The putts weren’t dropping, and things just weren’t going my way. I’m disappointed, but honestly I learned a lot, probably more than I would have if I’d won.”

Watkins had one birdie and four bogeys in her 75 for 153 and a 12-stroke victory over Myra MacMillan of Oronoque CC in Stratford in the Super Senior Division (60 and over). In the new “Open” Division (18-49), Grzywinski won by six strokes over Caroline Petchark of Great Neck CC in New London, NoraNoel Nolan of Shorehaven GC in Norwalk, Elizabeth Garfield of Tashua Knolls GC and defending overall champion Meghan Mitchell of Oronoque CC.

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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