By BRIAN JENNINGS
Although the golf season just started, a good first impression could be the difference between qualifying for the Division I tournament and sitting at home in early June, according to Blue Knight golf coach Jim DiNello.
Southington opened the season with two straight losses, and that has caught DiNello’s attention. It’s not the wins or losses that he is focused on. It’s the individual scores.
“We need to find four guys that are going to put up a solid round for us to make a run at making states,” the coach said. “I have confidence that that’s going to happen, but I do think it’s going to take a little bit of time for guys to get used to, what I would say, playing for something.”
DiNello has already cranked up the pressure on the starting five. Nobody’s varsity position is safe. New freshmen that have played in junior varsity matches are already stepping up to the challenge, having shown promise by carding lower scores than some of the varsity golfers.
“There’s going to be a little bit of internal pressure to keep a spot, if you have a spot,” the coach said. “I think that, in essence, is also going to make us a better golf team as the year goes along.”
It might sound harsh, but playing under pressure is what golf is all about. Playing against some of the best golf talent in the state in the CCC might mean that Southington golfers have to figure out how to get the ball in the hole in fewer strokes if they want to emulate the kind of season they had last year.
Sure, the season just started, but the competition is already fierce, and it doesn’t get any easier. The Knights will host Windsor on Monday, April 24 and travel to Farmington on Wednesday, April 26. According to DiNello, only the strong will survive.
“If too many matches go by and we don’t start to score in a range that will make us state-tournament eligible, it might be too late,” said DiNello. “The question is, are we going to start doing that soon enough for us to get to where we inevitably want to get to?”
Loss at Berlin
APRIL 17—The Knights suffered a 160-185 loss to Berlin at Timberlin Golf Club in Berlin in their season opener.
“They were a good team on a tough golf course,” said DiNello. “It was a great way to start on a hard course and windy day. It was humbling for our guys, which I think is really good.”
No. 1 Nate L’Heureux led the Knights by firing a 44 (+8). No. 4 CJ McManus (46), No. 3 Cameron Zegzdryn (47), No. 5 Colby Zegzdryn (48), and No. 2 Michael Zera (50) contributed as well.
Medalists of the match were Berlin’s Ricky Neppi and Spencer Duke with 39s apiece. The course rating for the font nine is 34.4.
Loss vs. Conard
APRIL 19—A couple days later, the Knights returned home to trudge through the rain at Hawk’s Landing Country Club where they dropped their second-straight match after falling by five-strokes, 157-162, to Conard.
No. 1 L’Heureux paced the Knights by remaining even-par on the day with a 36. No. 4 Mike Zera (38), No. 2 CJ McManus (44), No. 5 Colby Zegzdryn (44), and No. 3 Cameron Zegzdryn (46) contributed as well.
“It was really great for Nate and Mike to be in the 30s on our home course, which is the way it needs to be,” said DiNello. “But what we take out of today is that only two out of our top five guys had a really solid round.
Medalist of the match was Conard’s Luke Carroll (35). The course rating for the back nine is 34.1.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (http://southingtonobserver.com/2017/04/26/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-april-28-edition/). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.