BERLIN - The saying thereâ€™s no place like home proved to be true for John Abbott.
On Wednesday, the 22-year-old Western New England graduate produced a masterpiece at Timberlin, his home course, with a 2-under 70 to win the 33rd Connecticut Public Links Championship by three strokes over 2016 champion Kyle Nolin of Middletown. Abbott shot a 69 (-3) in the opening round.
Only Abbott, Nolin, Alling Memorialâ€™s James Sheltman and Norwichâ€™s Josh Cameron finished the 36-event under par. And only five players in the field of 31 broke par Wednesday, when pins were tucked and soft conditions yielded few birdies over the almost 6900-yard layout.
Abbott made five, three of them coming on the difficult back nine, where, for the most part, scores ballooned.
â€śI knew that there were a bunch of guys like Kyle Nolin who are really great players behind me but I thought if they shoot even par and I play my game, Iâ€™ll be okay,â€ť Abbott said. â€śWhen I got to 3-under and 6-under for the tournament, I knew it was mine to lose.â€ť
Abbott got to 7-under before a three-putt bogey on hole 15, but Nolin and Sheltman, playing in the group of head of him, started to pick things up as well. Nolin reached 3-under for the tournament on 14, while Sheltman got it to 2-under there as well.
But Abbottâ€™s birdies on the par-5 13, and on 14 ended any chance of a Nolin and Sheltman comeback.
It was a much different result than it had been earlier in the day. Abbott shot 39 on the front nine and finished with a 29 on the back. But even with the rough start, Abbot blocked out the rest of the field and turned his focus to making birdies.
â€śThe most important hole for me was the fourth hole,â€ť said Abbott, of the courseâ€™s first par three. â€śOnce I made bogey on two I was like, the last thing I want to do here is shoot 75 and just hand it away to somebody. So to make birdie on that hole to get back to even par just kind of calmed me.â€ť
And in the end, he came away with the trophy.
â€śItâ€™s just the best feeling. My dad actually is the one who told me about the tournament being here,â€ť said Abbott, who finished tied for 19th last year. â€śGoing into this I really wanted to win it. Going out [Wednesday] with the lead and having to play with that pressure and being able to do it, well, it feels just great.â€ť