Ben Ropiak won his first Greenwich Town Tournament golf title as a 10-year-old in 2011, then proceeded to capture three more age-group division championships at the Junior Town Tournament. Sunday, Ropiak became a champion again at Griffith E. Harris Golf Course and this time, he proudly held the Townwide Flight winner’s trophy, which he will no doubt, make room for on his mantle at home.
Following a round of even-par 71 with a 3-over-par 74, Ropiak won the Townwide Flight at the 76th annual Greenwich Men’s Town Golf Tournament with a 3-over-par 145.
“Winning this tournament is something that I’ve thought about and almost dreamed about ever since I became eligible to play in it at the age of 18,” said Ropiak, a 2019 Greenwich High School graduate and Georgetown University student. “It was a good day, I played well. I had a slip-up on 12, but I kept my composure. I got through the hard holes well, I birdied the birdie holes and I was able to get a few putts to drop at the end and that’s all you can ask for. It was a tremendous field, a tremendous course, great weather and the chips fell in the right spot for me.”
Ropiak edged 2015 and 2016 Townwide champion David Peng, who shot a 4-over-par 146 (73-73) over two rounds. Colin Cassidy tied Peng for second place, shooting a 78 in Saturday’s opening round, then carding a sizzling 3-under 68 on Sunday for total score of 146.
In 2017, Ropiak was the tournament’s leader after the first round. He entered Sunday’s action tied atop the leaderboard in the Townwide flight with Michael Hickey with a 71. Sinking birdie putts on the par-4 10th hole and the par-5 14th hole was key for Ropiak, who clinched his victory by holing a par putt on No. 18 (par-4). He also sank a significant par putt from approximately 35 feet on No. 17 (par-4)
“There was a certain apprehension going up to the first tee today,” Ropiak said. “Am I going to be able to shoot another score, I was asking myself. Today, I made those swings when I needed to make them and the satisfaction you gain from that gives you confidence and I’m so happy I have it back.”
Ropiak was a member of Greenwich High School’s boys golf team that captured three FCIAC championships (2017, 2018, 2019) and two state titles (2018, 2019). He won his age-group divisions at Greenwich’s Junior Town Tournament in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2016.
“It is so cool to win these titles, it validates all your hard work,” said Ropiak, who is going to try to walk on to Georgetown’s men’s golf team in the fall.
Griffith E. Harris PGA Head Golf Professional Joe Felder is retiring this year after 32 years in his role and this weekend marked the final Men’s Town Golf Tournament that Felder coordinated.
“When I was 10, Joe was the one who let me know that I won,” Ropiak said. “I was part of his golf clinics. A month ago I came to him and said ‘I can’t hit the ball.’ and he looked at me and we had a total of three lessons and I worked on it. He just has a knack for making people better and knowing what makes certain people tick. Joe knows how to get the best out of people.”
Monday, Ropiak will try to earn a spot in the CSGA Connecticut Open at a qualifier at Woodway Country Club in Darien. He qualified for the Connecticut Open last summer.
Peng, a two-time tournament champion, produced two strong rounds to tie for second place with Cassidy with a 146. He earned low net honors (142).
“It was a hot day, I was 1-under going into 13, I made a mistake on 14 and bogeyed that hole and it kind of deflated me,” Peng said. “It was a long day, the heat didn’t help. The bogey on 14 just drained my energy and I just had to hold on.”
Tyler Sudell, a 2020 Greenwich High School graduate, shot a 149 (74-75), while Jason Morilla, who had won three consecutive Townwide titles (2017-2019) carded a 151 (73-78). Hickey shot a 152 (71-81) and shared low net honors with Peng and William Newberry finished with a 155 (77-78).
“It was fun and it was great playing with Tyler and Will,” Peng said. “This year, I played well, just not well enough. I made a couple of mistakes here and there, but I had fun.”
Said Morilla, who entered the day two strokes behind the leaders: “Today wasn’t as good as yesterday unfortunately, I tried to hang in there on the back nine, but give it to Ben, he played solid golf on the back nine. Hats off to him, he played really well. Today, the wind was a factor and just getting the right club on your second shot and judging the distance on your second shot.”
A veteran of the Men’s Town Tournament, Joe Nethercott came close to winning a title several times in the Townwide Flight over the years. Sunday, Nethercott garnered his first tournament championship, winning the Senior Flight in impressive fashion.
After shooting a 75 on Saturday, Nethercott carded an outstanding round of 2-under 69 on Sunday to finish at 2-over 144.
“I had four birdies yesterday and four birdies today,” said Nethercott, who made his first appearance in the Senior Flight. “I missed a couple of short putts early and it kind of helped me out, because I buried my head in the back of the ball and made everything after that.”
Nethercott birdied Nos. 1,3,7 and 16.
“My round today was a dream start,” Nethercott said. “I birdied 1, I birdied three, I made a couple of great pars. I birdied 7 and went to 3-under on the front. I shot a 69, that was the goal and at one point, I was 4-under. I’ve had a good run in this tournament for a number of years.”
George Pusser placed second in the Senior division with a gross score of 155 (75-80), followed by Brien Kelley (80-76-156) and John McShea (81-79-160). Bob Eskierski shot a 161 and Matt Johnson finished with a 162 over two rounds. Robert Vaenerberg was awarded low net honors (135).
“I played well, I’ve been struggling with my swing since this year started and have been playing poorly and I made a slight change with my swing recently and made a connection with the ball,” said Vaenerberg, who made his first appearance in the tournament. “Compared to my last 20 rounds, this was the best round. I love playing tournaments, because it’s good fun.”
TOWNWIDE A FLIGHT
Andrew McCauley held a one-stroke lead in the Townwide A Flight following Saturday’s first round and kept his slim lead in the final round. He claimed the Townwide A championship with a gross score of 164 (79-85).
“It feels amazing,” McCauley said. “I was playing really well. I played OK on the front, I shot a 44, then I played really well on the back.”
Indeed, the heat and humidity – the temperature reached 90 degrees on Sunday – played a factor.
“I’ve never sweated more in my life, it was really hot and it really starts to effect you a little bit,” McCauley said. “The back, there are a lot of hills, so it wears you out. But I just tried not to make any mistakes. I will be back here, I have to defend my title, which I’m looking forward to doing.”
John Byrne finished just one shot off the pace, carding a 165 (80-85), as did Paul D’Amico (81-84). Juan Ferrara finished with a 167. D’Amico took the flight’s low net honors (145).
SENIOR A FLIGHT
Michael Ward cruised to victory in the Senior A division, shooting a 171 (87-84). Andrew Yu placed second (185), followed by Trond Rokholt (187) and Patrick English (189).
“It’s wonderful to have the town tournament going again,” Ward said. “It’s an experience that I’ve been involved with for a few years and I truly enjoy it. I’m thankful for the town to do it. Joe Felder and the group make it happen smoothly. I’m very excited and very happy to play with guys that I know and to come out here today with a better score and win it was great. Today, I scrambled very well, chipping and putting was something I did very well. There’s something about the competition that brings out the best in us and we perform better than usual.”
English was the low net winner (141).
“Matt Johnson (Senior flight player) got me into golf more and he got me to think about it more and he helped me improve,” English said. “Thinking about the game and working on the swing more paid off. This is the first time I actually played in it and I’m glad I did.”
SUPER SENIOR FLIGHT
Ken Strasnick won the Super Senior Flight for the third time, posting a 152 (76-76). Dan Agro was second (79-74-153), followed by Bud Pironti (154) and James Jagodzinski (157).
“I played solidly, I had a nice day,” Strasnick said. “I had a good time with Jim Jagodzinski, I had a good time with Bud (Pironti), it was very competitive and I feel thrilled that I got another win. A birdie on 1 was a good way to start. I struggled on a couple of holes, but all in all I hit the ball pretty solidly and it was a fun time.”
Paul Applegarth was awarded low net honors in the Super Senior group (139).
“It’s nice, because there were a good group of people out here and it was fun,” Applegarth said. “The weather was good, the course was in great shape, they run it well and Joe runs a very professional tournament. It’s a good event in town for the people to play in at all different skill levels.”
Charles Adams, who played in the Super Senior division, was one of several players who competed in the town tourney for the first time.
“I have always heard about the town tournament and my wife said, ‘why don’t you enter it this year?” Adams said. “I have been taking lessons from Pat Massi (Griffith E. Harris Golf Professional) so I decided to play in the tournament this year and I’m happy I did. I had a very good time.”
Once again, Joe Felder and his staff at Griffith E. Harris Golf Course did an outstanding job of coordinating and organizing the Men’s Town Tournament. This is Felder’s 32nd and final season at The Griff.
“It was a sad, but happy day,” Felder said. “It was great, everything went perfect. We had 92 players and we still had to take care of the public who was going out after them and it turned out great. It’s sad, it’s my last one, but we’ll get on with it.”
Ben Ropiak 71-74-145; Colin Cassidy 78-68-146; David Peng 73-73-146; Tyler Sudell 74-75-149; Jason Morilla 73-78-151; Michael Hickey 71-81-152; William Newberry 77-78-155; Nick Dagnino 79-78-157; Sal Sabia Jr. 87-72-159; Brendan O’Neil 81-81-162; Chris Dunn 84-81-165; Mark Kelley 90-77-167; John Zukauskas 78-90-168; Jack Kelleher 88-86-174; Karim Hallaba 93-92-185
TOWNWIDE A FLIGHT
Andrew McCauley 79-85-164; John Byrne 80-85-165; Paul D’Amico 81-84-165; Juan Ferrara 89-78-167; Graeme Fattedad 84-86-170; Yoshfumi Takahashi 88-85-173; John Martin 90-84-174; Jason Herrmann 87-88-175; Mike Moran 84-93-177; Josh Becker 89-89-178; Stephen Hohl 91-88-179; Anthony Gangi 92-88-180; Willem Venema 85-95-180; Matt Fletcher 92-91-183; Andy Herr 99-85-184; Sugimoto Takeyoshi 94-91-185; Carlos LA Rovere 90-99-189; Robbie Pedicano 97-100-197; Jeff Butera 102-97-199; Eric Jozwiak 102-102-203; Michael Ballestrini 102-106-208
Joe Nethercott 75-69-144; George Pusser 75-80-155; Brien Kelley 80-76-156; Hal Rudy 84-75-159; John McShea 81-79-160; Mike Thornton 78-82-160; Bob Eskierski 82-79-161; Matt Johnson 79-83-162; Scott Gaulocher 82-81-163; Paul Sudell 85-80-165; Robert Vaenerberg 84-85-169; Jonathan Rosenthal 87-82-169 Hal Rudy Simone Dagnino 88-84-172; Barry Cohen 84-82-166; Steve Gordon 86-85-171; Michael Marullo Jr. 87-85-172; Bob Klingel 86-87-173; Manny Morilla 89-85-174; William Stanlonis 87-88-175; Edmund Marinucci 97-90-187; David Rabin 88-94-182; Sergio Saichin 91-91-182; Randy Rabenhorst 90-103-193; Frank Alfano 101-105-206
Michael Ward 87-84-171; Andrew Yu 94-91-185; Trond Rokholt 95-92-187; Patrick English 96-93-189; Will Barnum 96-94-190; Ivan Qi 99-94-193; Mark McKeefry 101-93-194; Dev Panigrahi 97-100-197; Sal Mutone 102-101-203; SCarlo Lettich 104-102-206; Robert Buan 98-105-203; Mark Kaicher 109-105-214
Ken Strasnick 76-76-152; Dan Agro 79-74-153; Bud Pironti 76-78-154; James Jagodzinski 76-81-157; Ray Bakshi 81-80-161; Charlie Weiss 81-82-163; Paul Pacent 87-81-168; Craig Lanzoni 80-90-170; Sal Sabia Sr. 89-82-171; James Murphy 83-88-171; Bruce Willey 86-88-174; Mark Fox 92-95-187; Chris Hulse 97-91-188; Andrew Dzamba 96-93-189; Charles Adams 98-94-192; Paul Applegarth 95-10
Categories: Summer Sports