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Waterford's Petchark uses college experience to enjoy strong summer

With her junior golf days behind her, Caroline Petchark embraced the challenge of playing stiffer amateur competition on the summer circuit.

A 2019 Waterford High School graduate, Petchark has elevated her game after playing a coronavirus-shortened season for Division II Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla.

She tested her improved skills competing in the 55th Connecticut Women's Amateur Championship in July and the Hartford Women's Open last month. She earned two top 15 finishes, including tying for fifth in the state amateur at Fairview Farm Golf Course in Harwinton. She had a two-round total of 159 (81-78).

"It went pretty well," Petchark said Friday about her summer tournaments. "I had a good idea what the competition was going to be like because of college tournaments, a lot of good girls shooting under par all the time. Junior golf isn't usually like that.

"It was definitely nice having that college experience and then trying to bring it to these amateur tournaments."

Petchark had her best performance of the summer at the Hartford Women's Open on Aug. 22-23 at Goodwin Park Golf Course. She had two steady rounds, shooting 77 and 76. She tied for 15th overall.

"Definitely better competition, which I like playing with girls that are better than me just because it makes me feel like I have to compete more and have higher expectations," Petchark said. "Definitely a lot of fun. The groups I played with were awesome."

After a terrific high school career during which she was a two-time Eastern Connecticut Conference girls' individual champion and tied for fourth in the 2019 Girls State Open, Petchark continued her golf career at Eckerd.

As a freshman, she competed in all six tournaments and owned a stroke average of 84.9. She shot a career-low 77 in the second round of the Lady Moc Classic in Lakeland in mid-February.

"It went pretty well," said Petchark, who's studying business management. "I love my whole team, the program, my coach and my teammates. I personally feel like I didn't play as well as I would have liked. But I guess adjusting to Florida golf courses and better competition, that's going to take a little bit of time to get used to.

"But you definitely had a ton of fun. I can't wait to have our season back in the spring. ... I definitely feel like I improved dramatically. We practice every single day."

Her putting, in particular, improved. She feels more confident stepping up to a putt.

During the summer, Petchark worked on her game at Great Neck Country Club in Waterford where she's a member.

Petchark captured her second women's club championship by beating defending champion Karen Anderson, 4 and 3, on Sept. 7. She also won the title in 2018.

"It didn't really feel like a match because we play together every Saturday morning," Petchark said. "It was more like a laid back fun round together, but obviously still there to compete and try to play well."

Through seven holes, Petchark's lead stood at two. She eventually closed out the match on the 15th hole.

"It definitely means a lot," Petchark said. "They've been, especially (owner) Dave Mortimer, nice to me these past couple of years. Just being able to play out there with a bunch of great men and women, it's just awesome. It feels good that I can basically represent the club."

Petchark is returning to college next week.

Short putts

• Chris DeLucia started the Norwich Golf Course men's club championship by firing a 68 in the opening round and never let up, going on to win his 10th club title last weekend. He finished with a four-round total of 5-under 279 (68-71-71-69), outdistancing Steve Gambeski by seven strokes. Gambeski shot rounds of 69, 73, 74 and 70.

Jeff DeLucia took third with a 293 (73-75-74-71).

Counting his two club championship wins at Lake of Isles, Chris DeLucia, 31, has an impressive 12 titles overall.

In the First Flight, John Crocker posted a 315 (82-78-76-79) to finish first by three strokes. Chris Lavoie was second at 318 (80-81-78-79) and Mike Chenette placed third at 319 (75-83-86-75).

• Great Neck crowned several other club champions on Labor Day.

In the men's club championship, defending champion Eric Bergstrom held off Matt Fuller to step into the winner's circle. He's won sixth club titles overall, the most of any men's champion at Great Neck.

Mark Toscano won the men's senior club title with Jim Stefanski finishing as runner-up. Ryan Sadosky finished first in the junior club championship and Kevin Willoughby took first in the men's senior handicap division.

In the flight competition, Jim O'Neill (First), Bob Roseman (Second) and John Golden (Third) celebrated wins.

One other note: Anderson extended her streak of women's club championship match appearances to eight straight years.

• Pat Whiston and David Morrone combined to capture the Elmridge Golf Course Four Ball Championship on Monday, beating the duo of Jim Celico and Jim Crowley, 3 and 2.

• Bill Hermanson of Black Hall Club and Tony Susi of Mohegan Sun Golf Club recently competed in the New England Senior Amateur Championship at the Mount Washington Resort Golf Club in Bretton Woods, N.H. Hermanson tied for 31st at 6-over 150 (77-73) while Susi tied for 68th at 11-over 155 (78-77).

Upcoming events

• The Connecticut Section PGA Championship starts Monday at Wintonbury Hill Golf Course in Bloomfield. Local golfers signed up to play include Philip Krick of Mohegan Sun Golf Club and Kevin Shea of Great Neck.

• Black Hall will host the CSGA Two Man Team Championship on Sept. 28.

• The Norwich Golf Course Senior Club Championship has been rescheduled to Oct. 10 and Oct. 11. The 24th annual Norwich-Shennecossett Challenge Cup match is set for Oct. 3.

• Lake of Isles will host the LOI PGA Pro-Scratch on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20.

• Shennecossett will be the site of the CSGA Al Acker One Day Championship on Oct. 20.

• Please send golf results and items of interest to g.keefe@theday.com

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