Mystery man Cameron earns medalist honors at Norwich Invitational

Norwich In the cozy everybody-knows-everybody world of the Norwich Invitational, Josh Cameron is a mystery man.

Cameron never played in the event until Friday.

He didn't know anybody in his qualifying round foursome and had met only a couple people in the field.

Golfers certainly know of him now after Cameron posted a sizzling 6-under-par 65 to earn medalist honors and the top seed in the championship flight. His score was two strokes shy of tying the Norwich Golf Course record.

Cameron thinks his mystery man status can work in his favor during match play.

"What's cool for me, I don't know anyone," he said. "That's an advantage. I can go out and play my game."

Cameron, 27, is not a stranger to the area. He moved here about four and a half years ago to be close to his parents and currently lives in Mystic.

Prior to coming to the East Coast, he was a teaching professional in the Bay Area in California. He eventually left the business and regained his amateur status. After taking a break from competitive golf, he's starting to get back into it.

Cameron just missed out on playing in the U.S. Open, falling one stroke short in a qualifer at the Country Club at Farmington in May.

He always wanted to play in the Norwich Invitational and figured it was time to give it a shot.

"I've always heard great things about it," Cameron said.

Cameron shot a 68 in a practice round on Thursday. He got off a fast start Friday, recording birdies on the first two holes. Then he had seven straight pars before making birdies on 10, 11 and 12.

On the par 4 328-yard 17th hole, he drove the green and ended up tapping in for birdie. He finished his round without a bogey.

"The course, for me, is very playable," Cameron said. "I got a couple of lucky bounces and made putts when it counted. My round could have been lower."

After turning in his scorecard, Cameron rushed home for son's first birthday party. He's happy that he could squeeze in the 88th Norwich Invite during a busy family weekend.

"I got the okay from my wife to give it a go," Cameron said.

Unpredictable match play begins today. Cameron faces Fletcher Babcock, the 16th seed. Babcock shot a 73 and needed to win a four-way playoff to qualify for the championship flight.

In a family battle, fifth-seeded Matt Fuller (70), a former Old Lyme High School standout, plays his uncle, Phil Perry (72) of East Lyme, in the championship flight. Both golfers are members at Black Hall Club.

The matchup only happened because Fuller chipped in for birdie on the 18th hole.

"We play together a lot," said Fuller, who plays college club golf at West Virginia. "I've always said that I'd love to play him in match play."

Only five golfers shot below par on Friday. Defending champion Dan Hendrickson received a bye and the second seed.

Other championship flight round of 16 pairings include: No. 8 Chris DeLucia (71) vs. No. 9 Kevin Marcoux, the 2012 champ; No. 4 Jeff DeLucia (70) vs. No. 13 Glen Pelt Jr. (72); Hendrickson vs. No. 15 David Jones (72); No. 7 Nick Harrington (71) vs. No. 10 Chris Bennett (71); No. 3 Tyler Bennett (68) vs. No. 14 Joey Derrico (72); No. 6 Chris Maynard (70) vs. No. 11 Steve Gambeski (71).

After the round of 16 matches finish today, quarterfinal play begins this afternoon. Semifinal and finals will be held on Sunday. The championship match is tentatively scheduled to tee off at 1:42 p.m.

g.keefe@theday.com

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