Anders Johncke wins Ridgefield Golf Club championship
Anders Johncke noticed the new putter Rory McIlroy used while winning a few PGA tournaments earlier this year.
“He couldn’t miss with it; he was making putt after putt,” said Johncke. “I hinted to my wife that the putter would be a great birthday present.”
Johncke received the copper-colored Spider X for his 52nd birthday in June and put it to productive use last Sunday, sinking a 10-foot putt on the 18th hole to stay even before winning the top flight of the Ridgefield Golf Club’s club championship on the second playoff hole over defending champion John Maiolo.
“I had lost in the semifinals two years ago to Mike Barbarossa, who went on to win the championship, and I lost in the semifinals last year to John Maiolo, who went on to win the championship,” said Johncke. “This year I beat Mike in the semifinals and John in the finals, so I was able to get a little payback.”
Born in Sweden, Johncke moved to Greenwich with his parents in the 1970s and went on to play on the Greenwich High team that won conference and state championships in 1986. He then competed for four years at Boston College before moving to Florida after a few years of working on Wall Street.
“My parents had gone to Florida and I went to visit them during a cold December,” said Johncke. “What was supposed to be a two-week vacation turned into 25 years. I met my wife, started a new job, and had kids.”
Johncke kept playing golf, winning several Palm Beach County amateur titles as well as other local and regional events. Three years ago, a job offer led Johncke and his family to relocate to Ridgefield.
“Most people move away from Connecticut and to Florida as they get older,” he said. “But after a while you miss the change of seasons. It’s nice to have some variety instead of hot and hotter.”
In Sunday’s championship match at the Ridgefield Golf Course, Johncke birdied two of the first three holes to go 2-up. A bogey on the sixth hole allowed Maiolo to close within one, but Johncke sank a 35-foot birdie putt on the seventh hole and added a birdie on the eighth hole to go 3-up through the first nine.
“I was feeling good at that point,” said Johncke. “A three-hole lead at the turn over a player as good as John was unexpected.”
But Johncke bogied three of the first six holes on the back nine, and when Maiolo drained a birdie putt on the 16th the match was even.
“I was frustrated that I had made mistakes,” said Johncke. “I had to refocus for the final holes because my confidence was fading.”
After both players parred the 17th hole, Johncke ran into some trouble on the final hole of regulation. His second shot left him five yards short of the green, and he opted to putt from there.
“It wasn’t a good decision,” said Johncke. “I left the ball 10 feet short of the hole.”
Maiolo just missed a birdie putt that would have won the match, and Johncke then sank his putt for a par that forced a playoff.
On the second playoff hole (the 441-yard, par-four second hole), Maiolo sent an approach shot over the green and into the water. He then conceeded the hole and the match to Johncke, who was positioned for a birdie putt.
“It was a strange way to end what had been such a good match,” said Johncke. “But I was still thrilled to be the champion.”
Notes: Johncke came close to missing the finals: He had to rally from 3-down with five holes left to beat Barbarossa in the semifinals.
Johncke became the fifth different player to win a club championship in the last five years.
Maiolo was playing for his second straight title and third overall. His first victory came in 2014.
Also winning titles Sunday were Mike Giannetto (first flight) and Frazier Caner (second flight).