BERLIN - Eighty six of Connecticutâ€™s best golfers will descend upon Timberlin Golf Club Tuesday and Wednesday for one of the biggest weeks of the year for local golf. The 33rd Connecticut Public Links Championship tees off with a field full of skilled, local golfers.
The tournament, open to golfers whose handicap indices do not exceed 9.0 and who have had no private club privileges since Jan. 1, 2018, marks the first time that Timberlin Golf Club has hosted a CSGA major championship.
Despite defending champion Dave Szewczul, a five-time champ, being unable to compete as he recovers from back surgery, this yearâ€™s competition is as good as it gets.
The previous three winners - Kyle Nolin (2016), Chet Hrostek (2015) and Gen Boggini (2014) - are set to out themselves back on top. Boggini is also looking to build off of his fifth-place finish at the tournament last year.
Nick Waddington is hoping to recover from a second-place finish last year, when he bogeyed on the final hole of the tournament and lost by one stroke. Waddington is the son of former Public Links champion Derek Waddington.
Other notable players include Steve Gettings and James Sheltman.
Gettings had his best year in 2016, when he finished third in the Public Links and was a quarterfinalist in the Connecticut Amateur. He is also a former member in the Julius Boros Challenge Cup.
Sheltman has climbed the leaderboard in the last two Public Links, finishing 18th in 2016 and tied for sixth in 2017.
NOT QUITE FINISHED
Among the field is a handful of senior players who have made a name for themselves.
Tom Brett and Bruce Kraczkowski enter the group as the last two Senior Match Play champions - Kraczkowski in 2016 and Brett last year.
Terry Ruzzo joins the fold as a former winner of the Super Senior Championship. All three players competed in last yearâ€™s event and made the cut.
There are seven members of Timberlin listed in the field for this yearâ€™s tournament. John Abbott, Brendan Burke, Todd Howes, Michael McCarthy, Jay Pulaski, Randy Rizy and Mike Sirois will look to take advantage of a course with which they are familiar.
Abbott, who finished in a tie for 19th place in 2017, is coming off of a berth in the quarterfinals at this yearâ€™s Connecticut Amateur.
Timberlin is a 6,858-yard, par-72 course originally designed by Al Zikorus in 1970, but which underwent renovations in 2006. Architects Stephen Kay and Doug Smith spearheaded the redesigns, including covered bunkers, re-contoured fairways and the addition of a computer-controlled water irrigation system.
The tournament is 36 holes. After an 18-hole round today, the top 30 finishers will move on to tomorrowâ€™s final round.