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Wild journey ends with Lathrop winning ninth Pequot men's title

Jim Lathrop's journey to his ninth Pequot men's club championship title featured numerous twists and turns.

"It was kind of crazy," Lathrop said.

He trailed by eight strokes after the first round, rallied to tie the title match by the end of the second round on last Saturday and then trailed by four strokes early in the final round on Sunday.

His tournament experience helped him survive the rocky spots and remain on course.

Eventually, Lathrop shook his toughest challenger, Tony Davison, to win his seventh championship in the last eight years. He finished with a three-round total of 11-over 221 while Davison was just one stroke behind.

"Tony is a tough competitor," said Lathrop, who spoke by phone while playing a few holes after work on Friday. "He played really well this year. He just had a couple of bad holes and that was the difference."

It was the second straight year that Lathrop and Davison battled to the finish in the stroke play tournament.

Last year, they entered the final round deadlocked.

How they arrived at that same point this year was much different.

Davison got off to a sizzling start, firing a 1-under 69 to take an eight-stroke lead over Lathrop after the first round.

Lathrop, a long-time Pequot member from North Stonington, recovered nicely in round two, shooting a 2-under 68, eight strokes better than Davison.

"We each had a good round and a bad round," Lathrop said. "Then we both kind of had a challenging last round."

No one other golfer was within striking distance of the duo entering the final round.

Davison surged ahead again, taking a four-shot lead through four holes.

Tournament experience taught Lathrop to be patient.

"I've played a lot of competitive golf over the last 30 years," Lathrop said. "I've been in that position before where I've had to hunker down and just wait. You have to play the full 18 holes. Sometimes you need the last few. That's just the way it happens."

"Tournament golf, especially if it's close, it's like shooting free throws with no time left on the clock and you're seeing who misses the free throw. It was like that on Sunday."

The momentum flipped in Lathrop's favor on the 16th hole.

Davison stumbled, scoring a quadruple bogey eight while Lathrop rang up a par to tie the score. Lathrop seized the lead on the next hole.

They both parred the 18th hole, leaving Lathrop standing in the winner's circle

Fittingly given what had transpired, the last hole didn't go smoothly for Lathrop.

Another golfer playing an adjoining hole picked up Lathrop's ball in the fairway and put it in his pocket. A few members watching the match saw what happened and retrieved Lathrop's ball.

With the win, Lathrop extended his own record for club championships.

"It's a place I learned to play golf, so winning the championship here means a lot to me always," Lathrop said.

Short putts

• Several other club champions were crowned at Pequot last weekend.

Thomas Allen captured the First Flight, finishing with a total of 225 (73-72-80) while Terry Smith was the runner-up at 240 (82-77-81).

In the second flight, Mark Johnson was the winner with a 223 (75-68-80) while Dan Careb tooks second at 225 (70-80-75).

Bill Johnson also competed in the Second Flight and came away with a nice consolation prize — his first ever hole-in-one. He aced the 17th hole.

• Playing on his home course, Max Theodorakis cruised to victory in the 86th Connecticut Open earlier this week at Ridgewood Country Club in Danbury. He posted a three-round total of 7-under 206, beating runner-up Peter Ballo of Silvermine Golf Club by five strokes.

Golfers with local ties in the field included former Black Hall assistant pro Adam Rainaud, who's now at the Country Club of New Canaan. Rainaud tied for 12th at 3-over 216. Killingly High School graduates Jantzen Vargas and Fletcher Babcock tied for 22nd and tied for 27th, respectively.

Pete Stefanski has moved into first place on the Elmridge Golf Course men's club point leaderboard, piling up 1,169 points. John Donohue (735), Anthony Kargul (575), Andy MacMahon (536) and Greg Hopkins (535) round out the top five.

Steve Pagella joined the Hole-In-One club on Sunday, accomplishing the feat using a seven iron on the 130-yard, 12th hole at Stonington Country Club. Michelle Pagella, Troy Williams and Julie Williams were witnesses.

Upcoming events

• Stonington Country Club is running its club championship events this weekend. Eric Briggs is the defending men's champion and Anne-Marie van der Velde has won four straight titles.

The club also is hosting a CSGA One Day event on Aug. 13.

• The 35th Connecticut Public Links Championship tees off on Monday at Simsbury Farms Golf Course. Corey Jones and Josh Cameron of Shennecossett, Kenny Hall of Pequot Golf Club as well as Dave Jones, Tony Susi and James Lawler of Mohegan Sun Golf Club are expected to be in the field for the two-day event.

Matthew DeGiorgio of Lake of Isles and Brian Quilter of Black Hall Club have signed up to compete in the Connecticut Assistant Professional Championship on Monday at Mill River Country Club in Stratford.

• The Norwich Golf Course Senior Invitational is set for Thursday, Aug. 13, featuring three flights of competition. It will be a tee time event due to COVID-19 restrictions.

• Please send golf results and items of interest to g.keefe@theday.com

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