Hedden, 47, wins New England amateur

Golf has become a game dominated by youth. Older, more experienced players who rely on accuracy and a tight short game have had to adjust to keep up with younger players more easily able to maneuver increasingly longer courses. This trend began on the PGA Tour, and since has filtered down through the amateur ranks. Younger players such as Peter Uihlein and Patrick Cantlay have shown the golf world that they are the future of the game. But don’t tell that to Jeff Hedden.

The 47-year-old of Old Lyme, Conn., cruised to a six-shot victory in the 82nd New England Amateur Championship at Metacomet Country Club in Providence, R.I., last week, besting a field littered with Division I college golfers.

Hedden, who finished the four-round stroke-play event at 13 under par, surged past Georgia Tech standout Richy Werenski (66-67-68-72) and two-time Rhode Island Amateur champion Brad Valois, (73-70-67-66), a recent Rhode Island graduate.

photo

Jeff Hedden after winning the New England Amateur

The list of college players chasing Hedden stretched further down the leaderboard. Dartmouth's Peter Williamson and former Bryant captain Scott Congdon tied for fourth place, and Yale’s Tom McCarthy took sixth. Players such as Cody Paladino (Baylor) and Cam Wilson (Stanford) also were expected to contend for the trophy, but Congdon says he was not surprised to see Hedden win.

“I’d heard he’d been playing well in Connecticut the last couple of years,” Congdon said. “He played really well in high winds and ran away with it. He’s a player.”

Hedden opened the tournament with rounds of 66-67, and trailed Williamson by two strokes entering the final day, a 36-hole test that often favors younger, more physically fit players. But Hedden was at his best when it mattered most, rattling off six birdies and an eagle en route to a third-round 64 that cemented his position atop the leaderboard. Hedden closed with a 70 in the afternoon, despite playing the final two holes 3 over par.

“It was one of the more grinding days I’ve had,” Hedden told the New England Golf Association. “I started putting well off the bat, and that got my confidence going.”

Hedden said the youth of the field motivated him.

“It drives me,” Hedden said when asked about the age difference between himself and the other top finishers. “They have made me a better player.”

Hedden is the only Connecticut golfer to have won all four of the state’s major titles: State Amateur, Junior Amateur, Mid-Amateur and State Open.

He now has a New England Amateur title to add to the list.

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