MANCHESTER, Vt. — Andy Congdon has proved for decades that he knows how to win golf tournaments, but the Wyantenuck Country Club legend shared a victory on Tuesday he wasn’t even thinking about capturing.
The 68-year-old’s mind was focused on competing for the New England Senior Amateur Championship, but when he finished his opening round with a 1-over par 73 at Manchester Country Club, putting him in a tie for fifth place, another possibility arose.
That’s because the 2009 Mass. Golf Senior Player of the Year was tied with Bob Kearney (Bretwood Golf Club) atop the Super Senior Division leaderboard — a tournament within the tournament — despite a disappointing finish to his round.
In the immediate aftermath of the round, especially with 18 holes to play, he still wasn’t thinking about the Super Senior championship.
“The thing is, I was in third place in the main tournament despite a bad finish, so I was still focused on that,” Congdon said in a phone interview.
As it turned out, Mother Nature intervened well into everyone’s final round on Tuesday and eventually the tournament was cancelled, with the first-round results standing. That turned out to be fortunate news — he was suddenly a New England Super Senior co-champion with Kearney despite not having a great round going when the rains came.
“I just talked to (Wyantenuck head pro) Mark Levesque and mentioned how lucky I was because I wasn’t having a good day,” he said. “But I recalled a local event decades ago where I was on the other side getting that same kind of break go against me.”
Still, considering the way his first round ended, with back-to-back double bogeys and a bogey over the final five holes, it was a what-could-have-been scenario.
“Through 14 holes, I was 4-under and I was hitting it really, really well and I was making some putts,” he said. “But on my 14th hole (No. 5), I hit my only bad drive of the day, had to pitch out to the fairway and then three-putted for a double.”
A matter of a few feet on his 15th hole (No. 6, listed at 198 yards), may have turned out to be the difference between a solo Super Senior victory and a second-play finish in the main event considering he was just one shot out of second after the opening round.
“I pulled the shot, but it was probably just a yard from where it needed to land to give me a short birdie putt,” Congdon said. “Instead, it took a kick left and off the green.”
His approach shot then led to a three-putt and a second double bogey.
The other bogey came on the 17th hole (No. 8), when Congdon missed the green on the par 3 and couldn’t get up and down.
Congdon has been in contention several times this season against the young guys, after all he won the Berkshire Singles as recently as last year, and said that he still feels like he has the game to consistently contend for wins.
“I’m still hitting it good and I am in good shape physically,” he said. “I’ve been saying, I just need to start making some putts. My mantra has been to make more putts.”
He certainly showed what can happen when the putts start to fall — before the double bogeys, he carded six birdies, including four in a row starting with his ninth hole of the day.
Up next for Congdon and other area seniors, including Mass. Super Senior defending champion Bob Linn, is the Massachusetts Senior Amateur Championship at Pocasset Country Club. Linn shot a disappointing 80 on Monday.
In the main event, Stow, Mass. golfer John McNeil shot a 4-under 68 to prevail by four shots. McNeil, who won the senior title at the prestigious Hornblower Tournament earlier in the summer, shot a 4-under 68 to win by four shots.