By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Former champions battled it out on the final day of the Hop Brook Golf Course championships.
“It was a very competitive field,” Hop Brook golf pro Bryan Nixon said. “A lot of matches went down to the wire and some former champions went on to reclaim their titles.”
In the men’s championship flight, former champion Nick Tribanas won a 36-hole battle 1 up over three-time champion Glenn Petelle to claim the title Aug. 8.
After winning his first title in 2014 at the age of 17, Tribanas had a few near misses, including finishing runner-up in 2019.
“I feel like it’s long overdue. I know a lot of guys wanted their shot at me after I won in 2014,” said Tribanas, who outlasted Ryan Murphy, 5 and 4, in the semifinals.
Petelle beat Steven Slekis 1 up in 19 holes in the semifinals to set up the showdown between former champions.
“There were a lot of competitive matches leading up to the championship,” Petelle said. “It took 19 holes to get by Steven in the semifinals. He was hitting the ball real well that whole match.”
“I was getting buried in the final with Nick,” he added. “I was five down. I had a bad second nine in the first round, I shot a 42. I spent the next 18 holes just trying to catch up.”
Tribanas said he knew whatever lead he had over Petelle wasn’t safe.
“He’s a former three-time champion and he wasn’t about to let the lead bother him too much,” Tribanas said. “I feel I hit the ball well all day. It was mostly missing some of my putts and it let me down here and there. When he started to come back, I just focused on making par to get me back on track.”
In the women’s championship, Stephanie Slekis knocked off defending champion Dawn Bruenn, 3 up, to win her sixth title. Bruenn overcame an early four-strike deficit last year to defeat Slekis.
“I was not letting this one go,” Slekis said.
Slekis beat Carol Douty in the semifinals and Bruenn beat Jill Waldron to set up the rematch.
In the championship match, Slekis focused on starting fast.
“I started off strong, taking the first two holes,” Slekis said. “We were tied for a while and I stayed with her the whole time, but I wasn’t going to let her out of my sights. I have been focusing on this the whole year to get the title back.”
In the men’s first flight championship, Steve Nester beat Manny Tribanas 6 and 5 to win the title.
In the men’s second flight championship, John Tzetzo claimed the title 3 and 2 over Charlie Fredericks.
John Cerreta beat Michael Duque 1 up to win the men’s third flight championship.