Martino wins Hop Brook club championship

Ray Martino, right, and Todd Gronau are pictured after Martino sank a putt on the last hole at Hop Brook Golf Course in Naugatuck on Sunday to win the men’s club championship. –CONTRIBUTED

NAUGATUCK — The 2017 Hop Brook men’s golf championship came down to a pair of seasoned veterans on the links with Ray Martino getting past Todd Gronau by a 2+1 margin of victory on Sunday.

Gronau, last year’s runner-up, held a two-stroke lead after the first round of 18 in the morning session. Martino, who won his fifth title, came storming back during the afternoon session of 18 holes to win the championship.

“I just lost it during the second round,” said Gronau, a club champion in 2002 and 2010. “I had birdies in the first 18 but started hitting bogeys over the final 18, and Ray is a tough competitor.”

“I feel like the Buffalo Bills,” Gronau added “This is the second year in a row that I finished as runner-up and probably the fourth or fifth time I played in the finals.”

Martino couldn’t be reached for comment.

There were a couple of close battles going on throughout the day as the first and second flight championships were also decided.

Mike Fox defeated Bob Stabile 2+1 making a strong comeback on the back nine. Stabile held a two-stroke advantage with a birdie on the ninth hole before Fox came back. A birdie by Fox on the 16th hole opened up a two-stroke lead, and he held on for the first flight championship.

“There were a lot of closely played rounds,” Hop Brook golf pro Bryan Nixon said. “Ray made a nice comeback to win the title, and I believe that is a course record of five titles.”

Mike Morely got hot and recorded three birdies to win the second flight championship over Ken Teach. Morley closed out the victory with a birdie on the 16th hole.

“There was an exciting match for the women’s title,” Nixon added. “Stephanie Slekis defended her title with a 5+3 win over Carol Douty.”

Slekis took a commanding lead by winning holes 7, 8, 9 and 10. Douty, not to be outdone, battled back to win holes 12 and 13 and trailed by three heading down the stretch. Slekis closed it out by winning holes 14 and 15 to hold off the challenger.