Dowling ties for second at Public Links tourney

Ridgefield resident Rick Dowling tied for second place at the 2019 Connecticut Public Links tournament.

Ridgefield resident Rick Dowling tied for second place at the 2019 Connecticut Public Links tournament.

Contributed photo / Connecticut State Golf Association

After winning the Connecticut Amateur championship in June, Rick Dowling came close to adding a second state major title this summer.

Dowling, a Ridgefield resident, tied for second place at the CSGA (Connecticut State Golf Association) Public Links tournament last Tuesday and Wednesday at Wintonbury Hills Golf Course in Rocky Hill.

Representing the Ridgefield-based Golf Performance Center, Dowling had a two-day total of 137 to tie Gabe Van Ness for second place behind Peter Tomlinson of Seymour, who won the event with a score of 135.

Defending champion John Abbott and Jamie Sheltman shared fourth place with matching scores of 138.

Along with sixth-place finisher Seth Egnasko (139), Tomlinson, Dowling, Van Ness, Abbott, and Sheltman were the only players to finish under par at Wintonbury, which played considerably more difficult on the second day.

Tomlinon’s four-under 66 was the best round of the second day by three strokes. He made five birdies, three on the front and two on the back, and hit every green but one.

Dowling shot a two-under par 68 in Tuesday’s opening round but found himself four shots behind Van Ness, who finished the first round with a six-under 64 to lead by two strokes over Jake Sullivan.

Van Ness three-putted twice on the front nine in the second round yet still led by three strokes. But he bogeyed the 10th and 11th holes and dropped into a first-place tie with Dowling, who birdied the 11th.

Van Ness then birdied the par-three 12th to regain a one-shot lead over Dowling, who parred the hole

From that point on, though, Tomlinson outplayed the field. With a choked-down eight-iron, he birdied the difficult, 440-yard, par-four 14th (as he had Tuesday), parred the 427-yard 15th, and hit a choked-down pitching wedge to two feet on the 16th for another birdie and a two-shot advantage.

Tomlinson then parred the 17th and 18th holes to secure the title.

Dowling parred the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th holes to fall one stroke back of Tomlinson. He then missed a short putt for par at 17, dropping two strokes behind Tomlinson.

“I played well,” said Dowling. “I missed three putts that would have made a difference. My swing’s in good shape. I’ll spend a little time on my putting.”

Tomlinson said he was gratified that he’d played ahead of Tuesday’s leaders.

“It was actually good to be coming from behind,” said the 24-year-old Tomlinson. “I really didn’t feel any pressure. I tried to concentrate on the shot in front of me.”

Wednesday was a day when one shot at a time paid big dividends because Wintonbury, a 2005 Pete Dye-designed course, showed its teeth. Longer yardages on the par threes, tougher hole placements, and faster greens made for a challenging round, with only four players bettering par.

It was a grind, and at the end of that grind victory was all the sweeter for Tomlinson.

“This really means a lot,” he said. “It is my first CSGA win, my first state win. I’ve won the club championship at Orange Hills, but nothing like this. I’m really looking to build on this.”