Golfers swinging for championship

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NAUGATUCK — Dozens of golfers began match play this week at Hop Brook Golf Course with their sights set on taking home a championship.

After two weeks of qualifying, the 2015 Hop Brook Golf Course Club Championship teed off Monday. Hop Brook golf pro Bob Clark said 58 golfers qualified for the men’s and women’s division. This is the second consecutive year Hop Brook is hosting a ladies’ championship.

“The qualifier was very interesting as there is more parity in the championship field this year than in years past,” Clark said. “This year there really is no clear-cut favorite. Then again, this is the beauty of golf and match play.”

The finals are scheduled for Aug. 9.

Nick Tribanas and Stephanie Slekis are back to defend their titles.

Tribanas became one of the youngest winners of the Men’s Club Championship last year at the age of 17. He after defeated two former club champs to take the crown. Tribanas beat two-time defending champ Ray Martino in the semifinal, and topped the 2002 winner Todd Gronau in the final last year.

Slekis held on to defeat Anne Thomas 2 and 1 in the 18-hole final last year.

“The club championship is my favorite event, because you have the element of having to qualify and post a score,” Clark said. “Then you have to change gears and prepare yourself to play match play, where if you have a blow-up hole it will only cost you one hole, where if this was a stroke play competition it would be difficult to recover from a big score on a hole.”