Fleck, young NHS golfers showing potential

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NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck golf team has shown promise in its first few matches.  Despite a 2-4 overall start in match play, Greyhounds head coach Craig Blanchard says his team will get better.

In its latest match, Naugy lost to Sacred Heart by five strokes at East Mountain Golf Course in Waterbury on Monday. Naugatuck’s Tim Fleck fired a 41 on the par-34 course to earn medalist honors in the rainy conditions.

Fleck, a junior, might be the team’s most talented player. He has taken professional lessons to improve his swing.

“Tim’s swing has improved,” Blanchard said. “It has become more stable. You can see the work he’s put into his game.”

While Fleck has shown his prowess, Blanchard said he can be better.

“Tim has all the talent, but he hasn’t broken through yet,” Blanchard said. “He has the potential to be one of the best in the league. He hasn’t had that breakthrough round.”

Mike Leona, another junior, has made a positive impression early in the season. The reason for that, Blanchard said, is hard work.

“Mike has a great work ethic. He’s out there after practice working on his game,” he said.

Leona shot a 42 against Sacred Heart Monday and continues to challenge Fleck each match for the team’s top score. He also shot a 41 against Torrington and a 43 versus Woodland.

“Mike is very consistent,” Blanchard said. “He’s been one of our best scorers.”

Three other juniors are posting good scores. Anthony Orisini, Chris Reilly and Colin Waldron are giving Blanchard more options.

Senior Antonio Sapata is putting up quality rounds. He has already shot several rounds in the 40s.

Two sophomores—Halley Lisieski and Shannon Corbett—are also aiming to break into the starting lineup.

Blanchard said one key to the team’s improvement will be playing better, away from its home course, Hop Brook. However, Naugy enjoys a unique home-course advantage.

Blanchard said Torrington, one the league’s best teams, came to Hop Brook and won by 11 strokes over Naugatuck. When Naugatuck played at Torrington, the Garnet and Grey lost by 30.

“Hop Brook is a tight course,” Blanchard said. “The fairways are not open, and it’s not that easy for players coming in.”

Blanchard said the Hounds are moving in the right direction.

“I think we can finish the season better than we started,” Blanchard said, and later added, “We’re working on our putting, half-shots [50 yards out] and short game.  If we can improve in those areas, we can be a better ballclub.”

The Greyhounds are scheduled to play Thursday at Watertown (Crestbrook Golf Course) and to host Wilby on Monday.