Rough day for locals at the Wildcat

Justin Bohara of NFA hits out of a bunker on the 18th hole at the Mohegan Sun Country Club at Pautipaug Monday during the Wildcat Invitational.
Justin Bohara of NFA hits out of a bunker on the 18th hole at the Mohegan Sun Country Club at Pautipaug Monday during the Wildcat Invitational. Tim Martin/The Day Buy Photo

Sprague A day on the golf course is often full of surprises.

Some good, some bad.

Berlin senior Austin Forauer was pleasantly surprised that he fired a 2-under par 70 to earn medalist honors at the 42nd Wildcat Invitational on Monday at the Mohegan Sun Country Club at Pautipaug.

On the other hand, senior Justin Bohara and his Norwich Free Academy teammates didn't expect to finish so far behind team champion Xavier, which had 311 strokes to beat defending champion Glastonbury (313).

Playing on their home course, the Wildcats placed eighth with 367.

"This course plays differently almost every time," said Bohara, who had an 88. "If you don't have your game, it kind of exaggerates it a little bit. Definitely not what we wanted. We were expecting to have a good chance at contending."

It was rough day for Eastern Connecticut Conference teams. East Lyme was the top ECC finisher, placing sixth with 358. Killingly (359), NFA (367) and Stonington (369) finished seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively.

"It's a disappointing showing," NFA coach Bill Howard said. "There's really no way to sugarcoat it. Even if you look at our nine hole score on the front nine, it's the highest we've had all year. I'm sure the guys are disappointed, but what are you going to do? You have these days."

The shifting winds created some issues for golfers.

"First of all, it's a tough course," East Lyme coach Rudy Bagos said. "Any time you add wind to a golf course, it makes it even tougher."

Forauer, who'll play at Central Connecticut State University next season, mastered the conditions, completing the front nine with 34 and finishing off the back nine with a 36.

His score was the second lowest in the Wildcat's history. South Windsor's Noah Borrero had a 69 in 1991. Waterford's Jeff Riley shot a 65 in 2001 but the tournament was shortened to 16 holes because of the darkness.

"I definitely wasn't expecting it," Forauer said. "I wasn't playing too well coming into today. My putter was kind of cold. Hopefully, my putter is back on a hot streak."

It was Forauer's third time playing at Pautipaug. He took a conservative approach to try to keep his score down. He beat runner-up Bryan Stanton of Xavier by three strokes. Killingly's Drew Aiken was third with a 74.

East Lyme junior Ryan Tobin was one of the ECC's top finishers, shooting an 81. Stonington's Sam Ognisty had an 86.

Katie Strickland of NFA won the nine-hole girls' event, shooting a 49.

NFA and East Lyme will meet today in a pivotal ECC Large Division match at Old Lyme Country Club. The Wildcats can clinch the regular season title with a win.

Both teams have struggled to maintain consistency this season.

"We've played well, but we haven't been able to put it together as a team," Bagos said.

Howard just wants his golfers to forget about their play on Monday and start fresh today.

"We'll learn from it and move on to (Tuesday)," Howard said. "That's all you can do. You have to have a short memory in the game of golf. ... We have an important match. East Lyme is a very good team.

"Both teams would like to win the ECC Large. If we're not able to put this behind us, tomorrow could be a long day for us. ... I think this team can win this conference. And I'm not going to let one day change that."

g.keefe@theday.com

Connor Callaghan of East Lyme putts on the 13th hole during the Wildcat Invitational at Mohegan Sun Country Club at Pautipaug.
Connor Callaghan of East Lyme putts on the 13th hole during the Wildcat Invitational at Mohegan Sun Country Club at Pautipaug. Tim Martin/The Day Buy Photo
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