Top Connecticut golfers set sights on 122nd U.S. Amateur

As soon as he saw the email in his inbox, Ben Day picked up the phone and called the United States Golf Association. He didn’t get through.

Day then emailed the USGA in response, leaving his cell phone number. The USGA called back.

“Is this a joke?” Day asked the caller. It was not. Day had gotten in as an alternate into the 122nd U.S. Amateur championship.

“At first, I thought it was somebody playing a trick on me,” Day said. “To get an email like that for golfers like me, it’s amazing. I couldn’t believe it. I’ll probably never forget the feeling.”

Day, a 41-year-old Cheshire resident, will be joining fellow qualifiers and state residents Rick Dowling of Shelton, Jackson Fretty of Greenwich and Jack Woods of Danbury. The U.S. Amateur will be held Aug. 15-21 at Ridgewood Country Club and Arcola CC in Paramus, N.J.

In addition, Ben James of Milford is exempt into the field. James, who will be starting his freshman season at the University of Virginia shortly after the U.S. Amateur, is within the top 50 point leaders in the Men’s World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) who were not previously exempt, according to the USGA.

Day attempted to qualify for the Amateur at Connecticut National GC in Putnam on June 29. He lost in a sudden-death playoff for the second spot when Bobby Leopold chipped in for eagle.

Day had qualified for the other nine USGA events (four U.S. Mid Amateurs, two U.S. Juniors and three U.S. Amateur Four-Balls).

“It takes a bit of luck getting in as an alternate. Being it’s the U.S. Am, it’s very special. I’ve always wanted to play in one,” Day said. “Right now, it feels more special than all of the others.”

Woods, a rising senior for the Bryant University golf team, qualified out of Pine Hollow CC in East Norwich, New York on July 13.

“I’ve played in a million tournaments. I love competing and playing in tournaments,” Woods said. “It’s great being in it and being able to close under some pretty high stakes. I’m more happy about that. It’s nice to put together a couple of good rounds and have something to show for it.”

Woods, 21, played golf at Immaculate High in Danbury before going to Bryant. The medalist at the State Amateur, Woods said his goal is to qualify for match play.

“In match play, anything can happen. I feel if I can play well, I can beat guys and make a run in the tournament,” Woods said.

Fretty, a standout at Greenwich High who will be a junior for the Princeton University team, and Dowling, a two-time State Amateur champion (2017 and 2019), were the two qualifiers at Tamarack CC in Greenwich on July 12.

This is Dowling’s first USGA championship. His gioal is to reach match play.

“I’m very excited and really looking forard to the experience,” Dowling said.

The low 64 amateurs in the field of 312 after two rounds of stroke play advance to match play.; @nhrJoeMorelli