The 49th playing of the Julius Boros Challenge Cup between the best Connecticut club professionals and top state amateurs will take place Wednesday at New Haven Country Club.
Originally scheduled for May and then tentatively moved again before Wednesday’s date was set, the event honors Connecticut’s greatest player, who won both the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open. CSGA Captain Roger Everin’s side has won the past two matches, but his main concern has not been a three-peat.
“I’m just happy that we’re able to have the event. It’s a 'reward' event, not like a regular tournament where anyone can sign up. These guys have really earned it and I’d hate not to be able to play,” said Everin this week. “The event itself is the reward, the friendship and camaraderie, it’s something you don’t get from other formats.”
Though he has what he believes is perhaps his best team in four years of captaincy, Everin thinks predicting a winner this year is especially tricky given the complications of a pandemic season.
On the plus side, he chose his team back in January and, despite two postponements, all 16 players will compete. “Normally we have guys who can’t make it because of injuries, or family matters or conflicts and I thought sure we’d have that, but everyone committed. No one dropped out. So on paper anyway we have our strongest team. Because last year we had some players who were not able to play.”
But those who did played well.
After an six-year drought, Everin’s amateurs won in 2018 and then again last year, resoundingly in each case. In 2018 the score was 36.5 to 26.5. In 2019 it was 46.5-25.5. Everin is quick to remind everyone of how those scores evolved. “Really, it may have looked one sided, but last year we happened to win the final few matches. Up until that point it was even.” And those matches, he says, often came down to the final hole.
What’s more, said Everin, this will not be the same team as those. Of the 16 who competed last year for the CSGA, only seven return.
The final element of unpredictability, the former Connecticut Amateur champion argues, is the timing of the event. “It’s different in that we’ve always played early in the year and everyone was kind of on the same page as far as their games go, but this year the regular guys have completed most of their major tournaments while the seniors are just starting.” (The Connecticut Senior Amateur will be played September 29-30 and the Senior Match Play, usually played early in the season, will go October 5-7.)
For its side the PGA Connecticut Section will have a new captain, Ian Marshall of IAMGOLF and the Northeast Performance Institute, and he himself will be competing.
Also different this year: The first match will begin at 9:30 a.m., instead of the usual early afternoon start. The course, which measures about 6700 yards and plays to a par 70, is expected to be faster and firmer than it typically is in May. Finally, there will be no indoor dinner, often the highlight of the event. The trophy presentation, along with a light dinner, will take place outside on the club’s patio.
Competing for the CSGA amateurs: Brian Ahern, Ben Conroy, Nick Cook, Ben Day, Rick Dowling, Rick Hayes, Patrick Griffin, Bill Hermanson, Mike Kennedy, Bob Murphy Jr., Dick Stevens, Cody Paladino, Jamie Sheltman, John Steinberg, Dave Szewczul, Peter Tomlinson.
Competing for the PGA Connecticut Section: Ed Altobello, Marc Bayram, Adam D’Amario, Jeff DelRosso, Jordan Gosler, Brian Keiser, Donny Kirkpatrick, Kevin Mahaffy, Fran Marrello, Ian Marshall (captain), Mike Martin, Bob Mucha, William Street, Chris Tallman, William Wallis, Jan Wivestad.
(For pairings and live scoring, see the csgalinks.org home page).
Three members of the CSGA team are members or former members of New Haven Country Club: Ben Conroy, Ben Day and Mike Kennedy. New Haven head pro Bill Wallis and former New Haven assistant William Street will compete for the PGA side
The format will not change. Players will compete in teams of two, with those individual matches played simultaneously. Each match, team and individual, is worth 3 points, one for the first nine, one for the second nine and one overall. Nine points are at stake in each foursome. The teams compete for the Julius Boros Trophy, donated by Boros, the former PGA and U.S. Open champion who hailed from Connecticut. The PGA holds a 34-14 match record over the CSGA. The members of the professional team qualify by finishing among the top eight in section PGA Player of the Year point standings and the top four seniors in the section Senior PGA Player of the Year point standings. Also joining the team are the reigning Connecticut PGA Champion, the PGA Professional from the host club, and two captain’s selections. Members of the amateur side, in both regular and senior categories, likewise earn points in a Player of the Year competition and are chosen accordingly. All points were earned in 2019.
2020 will mark the 45th time that New Haven Country Club has hosted the Challenge Cup. Founded in 1898, New Haven Country Club was first designed by Robert D. Pryde, with the present layout completed by Willie Park, Jr. in 1922. In addition to hosting the Challenge Cup, the club has a rich history of hosting the state’s top amateur and professional events. It has hosted eight Connecticut Open championships, including the 2018 Open, won by John VanDerLaan, now competing on the Korn Ferry Tour. New Haven has hosted 16 Connecticut Amateur Championships and one Connecticut PGA Championship, as well as many CSGA and USGA qualifiers.