Dowling wins second Connecticut Amateur golf title

Ridgefield resident Rick Dowling won his second Connecticut Amateur golf title in three years.
Ridgefield resident Rick Dowling won his second Connecticut Amateur golf title in three years.

Rick Dowling described his final round at the Connecticut Amateur Championship as a roller coaster, but his wild ride in the title match ended on a high note.

Dowling had the momentum on the front nine, Chandler Morris seized it on the back nine, but Dowling had enough on the final hole to win the event for the second time in three years

Sinking a clutch putt on the par-five, 18th hole, Dowling (who lives and works in Ridgefield) won the 117th Connecticut Amateur Championship last Friday, edging University of Connecticut student Chandler Morris, one-up, in the finals at Fox Hopyard Golf Club in East Haddam.

Dowling, who represented the Ridgefield-based Golf Performance Center, also won the tournament in 2017 at Tashua Knolls Golf Club in Trumbull.

“It means a lot; it’s pretty surreal, but obviously really cool to be Connecticut Amateur champion,” said Dowling, who was also a one-up winner in the finals two years ago. “I just came out aggressive and hit some good shots hole-after-hole and I got up pretty quick.”

Unlike previous years, when the tournament featured a 36-hole final, Friday’s championship match was played in 18 holes because the event was backed up due to inclement weather.

Dowling took a five-up lead on Morris after eight holes, winning five straight holes (four through eight). The match was all square after the first three holes, but Dowling went ahead by making a birdie putt on the par-three, 202-yard fourth hole. He parred the fifth hole, made birdie on the par-four sixth hole, and rolled in a birdie putt on the par-four seventh hole.

Morris, who recently completed his redshirt sophomore season as a member of UConn’s men’s golf team, made his move in a big way on the back nine. He won the par-four ninth hole to cut his deficit to four-down, then closed to within two-down by taking the 11th and 13th holes.

When Morris holed a birdie putt from four feet away on the par-four 17th hole, he tied the match and set up an exciting finish.

Despite seeing his once five-hole lead disappear, Dowling kept his composure.

“I wasn’t paying attention to how much I was up or down,” Dowling said. “I knew I had to re-focus myself. It was going to be a test either way, especially competing against a good player like Chandler. The momentum was going his way, but one thing I did well today was staying consistent."

Dowling earned a berth in the championship match by winning his semifinal contest by default on Friday morning. Morris advanced to the finals by defeating his UConn teammate Finn Boynton, two-and-one, in Friday morning’s other semifinal.

Dowling appreciated the test that the Fox Hopyard course provided.

“It was relatively forgiving off the tee and rewarded a good tee shot,” Dowling said. “Each green had three little greens; it seemed like every green had three tiers. That meant your iron game had to be honed in and your short game had to be really good, too. The greens were rolling all week.”