Golfers finish strong; top 10 at Chappa

Golf balls and teesBy BRIAN JENNINGS

Southington golfers traveled to Rockledge Golf Club in West Hartford on Monday, May 23 where they settled with a 156-156 draw with Conard, but still managed to clinch the CCC Central title.

Andrew Szandrocha medaled by a stroke with a 37 (1-over-par). Ryan Burrill backed Szandrocha with a 39, and Andrew Rogalski and Nate L’Heureux each contributed with 40s.

The next day, the Knights remained at Rockledge and recorded their second-lowest round of the year in a 142-153 victory over Hall.

Burrill was medalist of the match after recording his lowest round of the year with a 32 (4-under-par). Rogalski came into the clubhouse with a 35, Szandrocha trailed a shot behind with a 36, and L’Heureux contributed with a 39.

“We finished up really well,” said Southington coach Jim DiNello. “Winning the conference championship like that was great. We knew what was on the line and responded with one of our top four golfers unable to play those two days.”

DiNello said that he was pleased with the way the Knights developed their depth, especially with newcomer Nate L’Heureux playing himself into a vital spot in the lineup.

Top 10 at Chappa Invitational

The Knights sent a pair of twosomes to the Long Shore Golf Club in Weston on Thursday, May 26 to compete in their first 18-hole competition of the year at the Chappa Invitational.

With an even-par 69, Szandrocha and Burrill tied with Watertown, Bethel, and Trumbull for ninth place overall out of 62 teams in the two-man, best ball tournament. Szandrocha and Burrill shot 34 on the front and 35 on the back nine.

“Both groups played admirably,” said DiNello. “I think their approach to the day was sound.”

Szandrocha and Burrill reached as low as 2-under at one point during the tournament, but DiNello said that he felt a mental mistake might have held them back from coming in with an under-par score.

“Both under-clubbed and were short on a very reachable par 3 of 110 yards,” said the coach. “In a best ball situation, one player must adjust to the position of the first ball off the tee to try and insure a par. It seemed like the bogey there kind of set the momentum they had back some. To their credit though, they kept grinding, but just couldn’t get putts to fall.”

Rogalski teamed up with D’Alessandro to tie for 26th with Pomperaug, Weston, Masuk, and Cheshire, shooting a 36 on the front and a 38 on the back to come in at five-over-par with a 74.

“All four guys seemed to have a great time, and it was great to see them all in that environment,” said DiNello.

Sam Knowlton and Jack Klingman of Darien won the tournament as medalists with a 63.

The Knights (14-1-1) finished second Darien in Division I with a course differential of 10.14 and a 6-1-1 record in the Blue Division of the CCC Central (11-1-1 in the CCC).

Southington is scheduled to compete in the CCC Tournament on Thursday, June 2 at Stanley Golf Course in New Britain. Qualifiers for the Division I tournament are to be posted by the CIAC on Thursday, June 2. The tournament is set to take place at Tallwood Country Club in Hebron on June 6.

“The guys are close to being ready for postseason,” said DiNello. “The conference tournament will help though. We will try to play some back tees and different courses to emphasize the ball off the tee during practice this week.”

With four seniors in the rotation, DiNello said that he hopes his starters are mature enough to know that they have a great opportunity but, the Division I field is exceptional this year as usual.

“Darien’s top two are a great team, but quite frankly, there are probably many teams in Division I capable of going low and winning states if conditions are favorable.”

DiNello said that he plans on getting the team out to Tallwood to play at least once before Monday for familiarity sake.

“The good news is that when you compete in a conference like we have, you become accustomed to playing against really good players,” the coach said. “I would think that being in the last foursome for states will be something that the guys can handle having been in that spot twice before this year.”

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