Aug. 7—Imagine standing on the 18th tee with a championship at stake.
Most casual golfers never experience that kind of pressure.
Steve Chevalier and Mike Serio did.
So did Chris Trisciuzzi and James Lathrop.
All four golfers played tense, down-to-the-wire men’s club championship matches on Sunday — Chevalier and Serio at Shennecossett Golf Course in Groton and Trisciuzzi and Lathrop at Pequot Golf Club in Stonington.
Chevalier and Trisciuzzi earned hard-fought wins, the latter’s coming on the second playoff hole.
“It was a little bit nerve-racking,” Trisciuzzi said. “But I just played it shot by shot and didn’t worry about anything else.”
Let’s take a closer look at both matches:
— Chevalier and Serio are considered the best two golfers at Shennecossett, so it was fitting that they both met in the 36-hole final.
The match lived up to expectations, as neither golfer led by more than two holes in the match play format and both turned in impressive performances. Chevalier won 1-up, shooting rounds of 68 and 71, and Serio had a 69 and 71.
“All day long neither could put any distance between us,” said Chevalier, who lives in Groton. “He was putting very well. I was hitting my driver pretty well.”
On the deciding final hole, Chevalier hit a solid tee shot down the middle of the fairway while Serio, the defending champion and medalist during qualifying, found the right fairway bunker.
“Going into that bunker puts you like a half shot behind everything, so that’s where he had an advantage,” Serio said. “Then he hit a great shot in, too.”
Chevalier’s second shot on the par-5 hole landed on the green and put even more pressure on Serio, who never recovered.
“It came off perfectly, just below the hole,” Chevalier said.
The two golfers have met twice before in the men’s club championship semifinals. Two years ago, Chevalier won on the 18th hole. Last year, Serio drained a 25-foot par putt to eliminate Chevalier and went on to capture the title for the first time.
It was Chevalier’s turn this year. He won the title for the fifth time, third in four years.
“He always gets up to play me and I always get up to play him, and it’s a lot of fun,” Chevalier said.
Serio, from Madison, credits Chevalier for motivating him to improve his game.
“When I first met him three years ago, he was definitely much better than me,” Serio said. “He just inspired me to practice and be committed and get better. I have played much better since I’ve known him.”
Chevalier added: “He’s gotten better.”
— The Pequot men’s club final needed two extra holes to decide a winner.
In a battle of former champions, Trisciuzzi defeated Lathrop, a three-time winner, on the second playoff hole.
His third title came on the 20th anniversary of his first one.
“It was the only reason that I played in the club championship this year, otherwise I wouldn’t have played,” said Groton’s Trisciuzzi. “I didn’t play much this year and I don’t feel I really have much of a game right now.”
The stroke play tournament featured three rounds.
Entering the final round on Sunday, Trisciuzzi trailed co-leaders Lathrop and Tony Davison by one stroke.
The leaderboard changed drastically on the 8th hole as Trisciuzzi rang up a birdie to take a three-shot edge over both of his competitors.
His lead didn’t last.
Bogeys on No. 15, No. 16 and No. 17 put Trisciuzzi down a stroke to Lathrop. But the match went to extra holes after Lathrop had a bogey and Trisciuzzi a par on No. 18.
On the second playoff hole, Lathrop’s drive settled under a tree, putting him in trouble. Trisciuzzi buried a four-foot putt for par to clinch the win and end his title drought.
“I was a little bit in disbelief that I made it because it had been so long,” Trisciuzzi said. “Just a relief more than anything that you won it. Golf is such a drain. It’s shot after shot and it takes forever. And you’ve just gotta make it through.”
Trisciuzzi posted rounds of 74, 76 and 74 for a total of 224 while Lathrop shot 79, 70 and 75. Davison placed third at 226 (78-71-77).
Trisciuzzi plans to try to defend his title next summer, no matter the state of his golf game.
“Hopefully, I’ll feel better about my game,” he said.
In the A Flight, Don Dias took the title, beating runner-up Marcus Cogman by four strokes. Jonathan Wright won the B Flight.
— Jessica Hewitt of Groton defended her Shennecossett women’s club title, defeating Kell Morrissey, 3 and 2, in Sunday’s championship match. She’s won four times overall.
“Every one from here on out gets even better,” Hewitt said.
Hewitt seized control early on in the 18-hole match, sinking a birdie putt on No. 11 to build a 5-up lead.
But Morrissey fought back, winning No. 12, No. 13 and No. 14 to cut the deficit to two.
“I got a good head start in the beginning,” Hewitt said. “Then she went on a run. Her putter was so good. She was making really good putts, so I was very nervous.”
Hewitt managed to hold on, closing out the victory on the 16th hole. She hit her best drive of the day to eventually set up a short birdie putt.
“It was a very special finish,” Hewitt said. “To finish with a birdie, it meant a lot. It was awesome. I was very happy with that.”
Hewitt called Morrissey “a great competitor.”
— The Norwich men’s club championship has played two of its four rounds. Chris DeLucia, who’s won multiple club titles, is the leader at 2-under 140 (68-72). Todd Lavoie is four strokes behind at 2-over 144 (74-70) and Jeff DeLucia is third at 145 (72-73).
David Derosier leads the First Flight field at 149 (77-72) while Gary Everett (77-76) and Roger Carver (78-75) are tied for second at 153. Joe Bordeau (82-76—158) has a four-shot edge in the Second Flight and Bob Furtado is first in the Third Flight.
The club championship tournament finishes up on Saturday and Sunday. The women’s club championship competition also will be held this weekend.
— Peter Gonski of Great Neck Country Club in Waterford earned medalist honors with a 1-over 72 last Tuesday in a qualifier for the 36th Connecticut Mid-Amateur at Silo Point Country Club in Southbury. Corey Jones of Great Brook Sports Golf Club in Groton and Mark Fong of Fox Hopyard Golf Club in East Haddam also made the cut, both shooting a 77.
The Connecticut Mid-Amateur is set for Aug. 29-30 at the Country Club of Farmington.
— Hewitt and Ben Boyter finished 12th out of 51 teams with a 6-over 77 at the CSGA’s 86th Mixed Team Championship Thursday Race Brook Country Club in Orange.
“We were very happy,” said Hewitt, who won the event with Corey Jones two years ago.
The Great Neck duo of Caroline Petchark and Billy Buscetto also landed in the top 20, tying for 16th at 8-over 79.
Jordan Levitt and Jason Denker won the championship at 5-under 66.
Around the region
— The second and final round of the Pequot senior club championship will tee off Wednesday. Tom Allen is the defending champion.
— The Norwich Golf Course Senior Invitational will be held on Thursday.
— The 38th Connecticut Public Links Championship, scheduled for this week at Keney Park Golf Course in Hartford, has been postponed due to unplayable conditions and moved to Oct. 16-17.
— River Ridge Golf Course in Griswold will hold its men’s club championship over two days on Saturday and Sunday. It is a 36-hole stroke play event. Glenn Gasparino is the defending champion. The women’s and senior club championships also will be played that weekend.
— The Connecticut PGA Open will be held on Aug. 14-15 at Lyman Orchards Golf Course in Middlefield. Fletcher Babcock of Danielson and Michael Rege of Groton will be in the field.
— Finalists Chris DeLucia and Holden Sullivan will play for the Norwich Invitational title at 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, at Norwich Golf Course. Rain forced the postponement of the match on July 16. DeLucia will be shooting for his second Invite title, Sullivan his first.
— The Connecticut PGA Junior TOUR will make a few local stops this summer. Shennecossett will host the Players TOUR Finale on Aug. 17 and Fox Hopyard in East Haddam will be the spot for the Players TOUR Cup (Invite only) on Aug. 22.
— Great Neck Country Club and Old Lyme Country Club will run their club championship matches on Monday, Sept. 4.
— Shennecossett’s senior club championship competition starts Aug. 27. The final is set for Sept. 10.
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