Kamireddy settles for fourth place at ECC Open

Stonington — Nick Kamireddy turned in a round Thursday that most high school golfers would trade their iPod for.

His score wasn't music to his ears, though.

Kamireddy, Norwich Free Academy's No. 1 golfer, could only think about stumbling on the final two holes, recording consecutive bogeys. He still finished with a respectable 76 to place fourth overall at the Eastern Connecticut Conference Open Championship at Stonington Country Club.

His troubles began after receiving an update from a fellow competitior, Windham senior Mike McMorrow. With two holes to go, McMorrow stood at 3-over, just one shot behind Kamireddy.

The news affected Kamireddy's play.

"It hit me and I just couldn't get it out of my mind," Kamireddy said. "I probably shouldn't have been listening to him when he said that."

Kamireddy needed three putts to finish the final hole, ending his medalist hopes.

McMorrow fired a 3-over 75, tying Woodstock's Greg Pike and Paul Butkevich for top honors.

"There was one score that beat him despite his stumbling the last couple of holes," NFA coach Bob McPhail said of Kamireddy's score. "That's a nice round."

Windham, which went undefeated during the regular season while winning the Medium Division title, captured the ECC Open title with 309 strokes. Woodstock placed second with 321 and NFA third with 330.

"Obviously, we know we can score well," McMorrow said. "Today, we did it."

Heading into the ECC Open, McMorrow and Kamireddy were considered contenders in a deep field.

Kamireddy started strong after opening play on the 15th hole. He drained a 70-foot birdie putt on No. 1 to drop to 2-under through five holes.

But he struggled to maintain any consistency, recording bogeys on three straight holes to climb to 2-over. His putter betrayed him. Meanwhile, McMorrow finished with two pars.

"The speed of the greens just started messing with me toward the end," Kamireddy said. "I kind of lost confidence and started thinking more about what other people were shooting instead of staying with my own game."

A junior, Kamireddy will have another shot at winning an ECC Open next season. He's come close before, shooting a 75 to finish third as a freshman and an 80 as a sophomore.

It was a good day for two Griswold seniors. Joey Barile and Sean Shepard each fired a 77, finishing in a six-way tie for fifth. Others in that group included Ledyard's Mitch Allen and Waterford's Nick Hedden.

Shepard, Griswold's No. 2 golfer, has been playing high school golf for only two years. But he had an advantage on Thursday.

"I kind of expected to do well, I work here," said Shepard, who had 13 pars and five bogeys. "I knew the course pretty well, so I was hoping for a 76, A 77, I'll take that."

Shepard and Barile also helped the Wolverines tie rival Tourtellotte for best score in the Small Division, each shooting a 334 and finishing tied for fourth overall in the Open field. The two teams also deadlocked for the regular season title.

"It's been a battle," Barile said.

Among Large Division teams, Woodstock edged NFA for top spot. Chad Vincent shot a 79 and Justin Bohara had an 84 for NFA.

Stonington placed sixth overall in the Open. Chris Bovino led the Bears with a 79, tying Vincent for 12th.



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