Invitational puts golfers to the test 

OXFORD — The regular high school golf match consists of nine holes with enough sand traps and obstacles that will test even the sturdiest golfer. Last Thursday at the Oxford Greens Country Club, the 5th annual Woodland Invitational brought out some of the best teams in the state to not only test the course but also their own endurance.

The 18-hole tournament helps teams to develop the mental toughness when it comes time to play league and state tournament matches.

“Playing in the Woodland invitational is a great thing for the kids,” Naugatuck head golf coach Bob Clark said. “It’s 18 holes and gives them that tournament feeling.”

Woodland, the host team, welcomed NVL foes Watertown, Wolcott, Torrington and Naugatuck among a field of 19 teams to compete against the course, the elements and a ferocious wind that blew for most of the day keeping temperatures in the low 40s.

“Playing in this kind of weather is a little rough,” Woodland senior and co-captain Ryan Warner said before teeing off. “With the wind blowing the way it is you need to keep your shots lower and be a lot smarter with them. You have to know each hole, make the proper adjustment and just try and work with it. To go out and play 18 holes is a whole different mentality that you need as opposed to playing a nine-hole match.”

Joel Barlow of Easton won the team competition shooting a combined 327 with their foursome on the par 72 course led by medalist Jake Sullivan (78). Watertown finished as the runner-up with a team score of 332 led by Mike Buckley (79).

The Hawks got two solid rounds out of team leaders Warner (84) and Julian Perino (86). Josh Hassan (100) and Alec Feducia (103) rounded out Woodland’s foursome to give the Hawks a ninth-place finish with a team total of 375.

The Greyhounds had their share of challenges not only on the 18-hole course but also with the consistent swirling wind. Jake Alcorace shot a team best 97 with a solid 48 on the front nine.

Rithvik Rajkumar had a 48 on the front nine and a 103 overall. Kody Butler a (116) and Colin Sheedy (147) completed Naugatuck’s foursome that finished 19th with a total team score of 463.

“A tournament like this certainly gets you ready come tournament time at the end of the season,” Alcorace said. “You get to work on the little things and work on a lot of different shots. Plus the atmosphere of a tournament like this gets you mentally prepared when the league championship comes around.”

The tournament started when Steve Landry, former head of the Oxford Greens, approached Woodland Athletic Director Brian Fell with the idea, Woodland head golf coach Bill Carangelo said.

“We have been running this tournament ever since,” he said. “It has grown in size and interest and we are now getting some of the best teams in the area to come out and compete.”

Following the tournament, the Hawks faced their toughest challenge of the season on Monday taking on unbeaten Watertown at Oxford Greens. Woodland fell, 168-197, to the Indians.

Warner shot a team best 45 with Hassan coming in with a 47. Feducia (52) and Perino (53) rounded out the scoring for the Hawks, who were missing their No. 3 Zach Crowell.

Woodland bounced back with a 167-234 win over East Hampton on Tuesday to improve to 7-2 on the year. The foursome of Hassan (40), Perino (40), Feducia (43) and Warner (44) led the Hawks to victory.

Naugatuck saw its four-game winning streak come to an end as the ‘Hounds fell to Torrington on Monday, 186-229. Eli Rachiele led the way for Naugatuck (4-6) shooting a 54. Alcorace and Butler both came in at 56 with Rajkumar hit a 63 to round out the foursome.

On Wednesday, Woodland and Naugatuck both had twosomes compete in the 35th Jack Stigberg Memorial Golf Tournament at Farmingbury Hills Golf Course in Wolcott.

Warner and Crowell represented Woodland and finished second with a combined 76 on the par 70 course. The duo finished two shots off of the 74 shot by New Milford’s Kyle Poeti and John Pace.

Alcorace and Ethan Maxwell shot a combined 87 for Naugatuck at the tournament.

Naugatuck is set to get back on the course May 16 versus Wolcott and Wilby.

Woodland is scheduled to play Holy Cross on Thursday. The Hawks will face Crosby May 16 and Kennedy May 17.