NEW BRITAIN - Even before he finished tallying up his scorecard Nick Hudyma was receiving congratulatory handshakes and high fives from his competitors.
After his four previous attempts to win the Herald City Championship fell short, Hudyma left little doubt in Sunday’s final round that try No. 5 was the lucky one. Even the final hole of the day was simply a formality after Hudyma shot a 4-over 75 to win the 88th edition of the tournament at Stanley Golf Course.
“It’s fun,” Hudyma said. “I mean, look at the names that are [previous winners]. This tournament has been going on since 1930 and there’s a lot of history in our town and I’m [from New Britain] so I means a lot to me. I grew up playing here. I started here when I was 10 years old and my grandfather bought me the pass so I knew all the names up there. It’s pretty cool.”
Hudyma entered the final round tied with Mike Strong at the top of the leaderboard after both shot a 74 last weekend. But the defending Stanley Golf Course club champion was able to pull away with a strong performance on the back nine to make up for a less than ideal start.
After he closed out his first nine holes 6-over thanks in part to double bogeys on the first and fourth holes, Hudyma went on a run of four birdies in five holes starting at the par-4 12 and ending at the par-5 16 to finish two strokes under par on the back nine.
“I finally started hitting some fairways and greens and then the putts dropped,” Hudyma said of his run on the back nine. “It was pretty simple to be honest. Usually it doesn’t happen like that so it was pretty nice that it did.”
Strong was not as fortunate and finished with a 10-over 81 for second place.
Visibly frustrated throughout the later part of the round, Stong’s troubles started in the beginning of the day, in particular the fifth and eighth holes which he tripled and doubled bogeyed respectively. Overall, he made just one birdie on the afternoon and finished with six other bogeys.
Last year’s Herald City champion, Vaughan Gaither, finished sixth after shooting am 80. He entered the day five strokes back of Hudyma and Strong.
Gaither again had issues with his putter early and a double bogey on the sixth hole took away any kind of momentum for later in the round. A double bogey on 10 made it an even more of an uphill battle.
“It was pretty much the same as last week,” Gaither said. “I got off to a slow start and then picked up the pace a little bit. It’s tough since I’ve been playing so well this year. I expected to have a better first round and was hoping to make more of a contention and more of a fight for the winner. I was hoping it would come down to me and Nick battling it out and it was tough not to be in that position.”
Justin Henry, Dan Ahern and Paul Bosnyak tied for third with a gross total of 157. Nate Thiede came in seven after an 85 pumped his gross score to 160. Both Hunter and Thiede were a shot off the leaders coming into the final round.
“It was pretty bad from the start,” Thiede said. “A lot of bogeys. The fifth hole, two lost balls, made a triple [bogey] there. I came back a little bit, but left a lot of putts short and couldn’t capitalize.”
Steve Poulin won B-flight over Paul Gunn by a single stroke with a 165. Rob Washington took the C-flight over Ken Brylle in a playoff with a 170, while Bernie Davis won D-flight with a 174.
Each flight then had a different net winner. Henry came in first in A-flight with a 143. Kevin Ringuette (144) took C, New Britain boys golf coach Bob Zadrozny (137) won C, while Ed Ziegen (139) was the top scorer in D.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org