Harrington holds off Cameron to win his second Norwich Invite title

Norwich — Nick Harrington resided in his comfort zone during the three-day Norwich Invitational.

From qualifying round action Friday through Sunday's championship flight title match, the recent UConn graduate and former all-state standout out of Parish Hill enjoyed the tournament stage.

The result: Harrington captured his second Norwich Invitational title, beating Josh Cameron, 3 and 1, in the final at Norwich Golf Course. He also won in 2016.

"A lot of good golfers," Harrington said. "It's always satisfying to win a tournament. I felt like I played the best this week and I won. I think there are some scenarios where you can play the best here and lose."

It was far from an easy path to the championship on Sunday.

First, Harrington knocked off fellow former UConn golfer Chris DeLucia, the defending champion, 3 and 2, in Sunday morning's semifinal to set up a showdown with Cameron, who beat Sean Vigue, 3 and 2, in his semifinal.

There was one particularly uncomfortable time in the final for Harrington.

After building a 4-up lead by winning Nos. 8-12, Harrington had to hold off a comeback bid from Cameron, the 2017 champion and Norwich Golf Course member. He attributed his run to playing smart golf.

Cameron rolled in a clutch 17-foot birdie putt to capture No. 15 and recorded a par to win No. 16, cutting the deficit to two holes with two to go.

"I didn't feel nervous at all today until 16," Harrington said. "I didn't feel it slipping but I was uncomfortable."

So did Cameron sense a momentum swing after making his birdie on 15?

"No, just like drowning but getting one last gasp of air and going back down again," Cameron said. "No change of momentum."

Cameron felt fortunate that he reached the 17th hole. His chance to force a final hole was basically lost when his second shot settled on the side of the hill off the back side of the green.

Harrington closed it out from there. He had hoped to do it earlier.

"To not close it out on 16 when all I had to do was make par, that's frustrating," Harrington said. "I had to do a quick reset there. I knew when he hit the shot over the green here (on 17), I was in good shape."

The brutal heat affected both golfers who battled fatigue while playing their fifth round in three days. It showed in their play at times on Sunday.

"I think we were both a little tired and it was really hot and maybe just in general didn't quite have our games," Harrington said.

Self-inflicted wounds and a few bad breaks cost Cameron, a 32-year-old Uncasville resident.

"I did it to myself," Cameron said. "It is what it is. Nick played great. ... Obviously, I wish it would have turned out a little bit. He's awesome, awesome player and I had to play my best to beat him and I didn't."

The 93rd Norwich Invitational and hot weather served as a tune-up for Harrington who is preparing to play in the U.S. Amateur next month in North Carolina.

"I think North Carolina is going to be really hot," Harrington said.

Several other flights crowned champions on Sunday.

In the First Flight, Michael Fitzpatrick beat John Darigan, 2 and 1. Second Flight went to Joseph Benanto defeated Jim Lawler in 20 holes. Matt Lame knocked off Seth Nowakowski, 2 and 1, in the Third Flight while Brad Columbus beat Chris Vincent, 2 and 1, in the Fourth Flight and Christian Jensen nipped Chris John, 1 up, in the Fifth Flight. In the Sixth Flight, Ray Duchesneau beat Alex Gebbie, 2 up.

g.keefe@theday.com

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