CANTON, Sept. 23 – School was dismissed on Friday afternoon at Canton Middle School and seventh grader Jonah Hurley began walking. He made his way up Dyer Avenue, crossed Route 44 and walked down Cemetery Road to Matterhorn Mini Golf.
Hurley, 11, wanted to practice. It was a free day of miniature golf for participants in Saturday’s first International Pro-Am at Matterhorn. Hurley and other entrants in the professional and amateur divisions were preparing for the event.
The practice paid off. With four of five rounds in the professional portion of the tournament, Hurley was just one stroke behind Mark Novicki of East Hartford. Unfortunately for Hurley, he shot a one-under-par 44 in the final round and finished third. But he won a one-hole sudden death playoff to finish third beating Manchester’s Patrick Sheridan, who also finished with a five-round total of 203.
Novicki from East Hartford shot a five-under-par 40 in the final round to nip East Hartford’s Justin Seymour by one stroke to win the International Pro-Am with a five-round total of 198 and an average of 39.6 strokes a round. Seymour had a final round 41 to finish a shot back at 199.
Nineteen professionals and 15 amateur golfers participated in the event. Matterhorn Mini Golf founder and owner Autumn Sunderland was thrilled with the turnout.
“It was an incredible tournament,” she said. “People were so excited that they’ve already said they are coming back. They had a wonderful time and it was a great field.”
Many of the professionals in the field will be competing in the upcoming U.S. Pro Miniature Golf Association’s (USPMGA) Master’s Championship tournament in October in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Hurley won’t be one of those golfers – at least not this year. Hurley wanted to see how he would fare against the professionals, said his father, Dan Hurley. The Hurley family is no stranger to the Matterhorn course. They visit several times a month.
It was the first professional victory for Novicki, a USPMGA pro. “The experience was one I’ll never forget, almost like a first Super Bowl win,” he said. “Going into the day with zero sleep, I felt like it was my time. I’ve come close in tournaments locally and have done well in the U.S. Opens and Masters tournaments. I felt like all the hard work and hours practicing each hole was going to pay. With this win I feel more confident than ever going into the Masters tournament next month.”
Jonah Hurley did win the award for most aces (hole-in-one) in the tournament with six. Novicki, Hurley and Gary Craig of Hartsdale, N.Y. had five aces after five rounds. They had a playoff for this award, too, with Hurley taking it home with an ace on the first hole of the playoff.
Seymour, Sheridan and Randy Rice each shot a tournament-record 37 in the fourth round. The course record is a 36.
There were 15 entries in the amateur portion of the tournament with participants playing three rounds of golf. East Granby’s Steve Langlois finished with a one stroke victory over Wethersfield’s Daniel Erickson and Manchester’s Matthew Liles. Avon’s Brian Hogan finished fourth with a three-round total of 131. He took fourth by winning in a three-hole playoff.
The record low round for an amateur was George Rice with a third round 39.
“The course was in excellent condition and really allow the players to show off their skills,” said Sheridan, a tournament co-director.
The event was sponsored by Matterhorn Mini Golf and directed by The Putting Penguin, a website that reviews miniature golf courses. While not an official U.S. Professional Miniature Golf Association event, the professional division did see several USPMGA members playing and some of the best putters in the New England area, with some coming from as far away as New York to play.
“I’m looking forward to not only next year’s Pro-Am, but being able to continue providing world class mini golf to northwest Connecticut,” Sutherland said.
Professional Division, top 10
|Mark Novicki, East Hartford, $500||39||39||42||38||40||198||39.6|
|Justin Seymour, East Hartford, $250||41||40||40||37||41||199||39.8|
|Jonah Hurley, Canton, $150||41||41||39||38||44||203||40.6*|
|Patrick Sheridan, Manchester, $100||43||43||41||37||39||203||40.6|
*Finished third by winning sudden death playoff hole
Amateur Division, top 10
|Steven Langlois, East Granby||46||42||41||129||43.0|
|Daniel Erickson, Wethersfield||43||44||43||130||43.3*|
|Matthew Liles, Manchester||44||43||43||130||43.3|
|Brian Hogan, Avon||46||44||41||131||43.6*|
*Won three-hole playoff