MANCHESTER, Vermont - Team Connecticut captured the boys' and girls' division titles at the New England Junior Amateur on Wednesday, with the boys' team riding a Day 1 lead to an overall win and the girls' team fending off a final-round challenge. Connecticut also swept the divisional titles, won by Will Lodge and Arabella Lopez.
The team finished with a 27-stroke advantage in the Boys Division and a 10-stroke advantage in the Girls Division to secure Connecticut's 19th and 20th divisional titles at the New England Junior Amateur.
Coming into the final round with an advantage of more than 30 strokes, Connecticut cruised to a Boys Division win with a 1-over Round 3 score. The team was able to count two below-par scores on Wednesday: a 6-under 66 from Elias Kennon, which included a hole-in-one, and a 1-under 71 from eventual champion Lodge. Bradley Sawka and Alex Elia both contributed 2-over 74s.
The Connecticut girls' team entered the day with an 11-stroke advantage, but found themselves in a battle to hold their lead after Team Massachusetts challenged them on the front nine. With at or below-par scores from Massachusetts' Morgan Smith and Annie Dai on the front nine, the two teams made the turn with just a five-stroke difference between them in favor of Connecticut. However, Connecticut took control on the back nine to rebuild their lead and come away with the win. Yvette O'Brien led the Connecticut girls with an even-par 72, while Lopez shot a 2-over 74.
In the individual competition, both Lodge and Lopez battled through a multiple-hole playoff to come out on top. Smith and Lopez both went to a playoff in the girls' competition after an eagle by Lopez on 17 tied them heading into hole 18, which they also tied to finish at 1-under for the championship. Lopez defeated Smith on their second playoff hole. Lodge defeated Maine's Elliot Spaulding in multiple holes to take home the boys' title.
Team Massachusetts finished in second place in both divisions, with both the girls' and boys' teams from the Bay State shooting the lowest Round 3 scores in their respective divisions. Team Maine took third in the Boys Division, while Team Rhode Island rounded out the top three in the Girls Division.
Connecticut's Lodge, Kennon and Sawka, as well as Maine's Spaulding and Rhode Island's Max Jackson rounded out the top five finishers in the Boys Division. In the Girls Division, the top five consisted of Lopez, Smith, O'Brien, Rhode Island's Olivia Williams and Rhode Island's Kylie Eaton.
MANCHESTER, Vermont - After getting off to a blistering start at the New England Junior Amateur Championship on Tuesday, Team Connecticut never looked back as it raced out to a double-digit lead in both the Boys and Girls Divisions.
Connecticut finished Rounds 1 and 2 in the Boys Division at 15-under, fueled by a 14-under team score during the first round, which is 31 strokes ahead of second-place Massachusetts. In the Girls Division, Connecticut logged a 1-under team score, 11 strokes ahead of Massachusetts, which also sits in second in the girls' team competition. The Connecticut team was the only team to finish under par in either division.
Connecticut also boasts the individual leaders in both divisions: Will Lodge and Bradley Sawka in the Boys Division, who both finished with a 6-under 138, and Arabella Lopez in the Girls Division, who carded a 3-under 141.
Connecticut's early lead was thanks to strong morning performances from Lodge and Sawka, who shot a 6-under 66 and 5-under 67, respectively, during Round 1. With a 3-under 69 from Elias Kennon and a 1-under 71 from Will Gregware, the Constitution State's representatives only had to count one score above par in their Round 1 score. It was much of the same in the Girls Division, for which the morning round score included a 4-under 68 from Lopez and a 1-under 71 from Yvette O'Brien.
Connecticut finished the second round with a three scores at or below par in the Boys Division, including a 2-under 70 from Luke Stennett, and a 4-over total in the Girls Division.
Close behind Connecticut is Massachusetts, which captured last year's team titles in both divisions. On Tuesday, the Bay State team finished with a 16-over in the Boys Division and a 10-over in the Girls Division. Leading the way were Morgan Smith and Ryan Scollins, who both posted a 36-hole score of 1-under 143.
The rest of the field isn't far behind Massachusetts in either division, however. In the boys' team competition, Maine finished just two strokes back largely thanks to a 5-under 139 finish from Bennett Berg and a 4-under 140 from Elliot Spaulding. In the girls' team competition, Rhode Island is knocking on the door with just a three-stroke deficit to reach second place. Rhode Island's Olivia Williams finished fourth individually with a 6-over 150, and Kylie Eaton was one stroke back at 151.
Connecticut and Massachusetts both have a championship-leading 18 divisional titles at the New England Junior Amateur, so a win by Connecticut would break the tie. A win in the Girls Division would also be the first for Connecticut in the girls' competition, which was first introduced at the championship in 2019.
Norton, MA – Beginning in 2019, the New England Golf Association (NEGA) will introduce a girls’ component to the New England Junior Amateur Invitational. It marks the first time in the association’s 92-year history that teams of female junior competitors will have a chance to compete for a New England team title.