Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Sports

Doyle Takes the Title at Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship

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Madison’s Matt Doyle earned top honors at the Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship at Watertown Golf Club, holding off a formidable challenge from Shelton’s Kevin St. Pierre in the title bout. Photo courtesy of Madison Country Club

Madison’s Matt Doyle earned top honors at the Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship at Watertown Golf Club, holding off a formidable challenge from Shelton’s Kevin St. Pierre in the title bout. (Photo courtesy of Madison Country Club )

Matt Doyle was on the top of his game heading into the back nine of the 79th annual Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship at Watertown Golf Club on July 9. Doyle never let the momentum sway in his opponent’s favor and ended up taking the title by edging out Shelton’s Kevin St. Pierre in the final match of the tournament.

Doyle is a rising senior at Daniel Hand High School and a key member of the Tigers’ boys’ golf squad. In the title match of the state’s Junior Amateur Championship, Doyle went up against St. Pierre, who is entering his senior year at Shelton High School, and immediately took control of the contest. In the match-play format, Doyle went on the defeat St. Pierre 2 and 1, meaning that he was ahead by two holes with only one hole to play.

“It was a good match between Kyle and I,” said Doyle. “I took a pretty early lead, and you always want to be up. You never want to be chasing, especially when it’s the finals like this.”

Doyle was leading St. Pierre by two holes going into the seventh hole of the championship bout. St. Pierre made a birdie on that hole to cut the deficit to one, and that’s when Doyle started to feel some pressure.

“You can feel the mood switch in a big match like this. It went from me leading by two to being up only one, and all the pressure was on me,” Doyle said. “On the 11th hole, I got it back up to a two-stroke lead, so I was more comfortable, but it was still tough the whole way through.”

Doyle said that he knew he had a great chance to win the tournament following the 14th hole. St. Pierre made a 20-foot birdie putt, but Doyle still had a chance to break even on the hole if he sank his 18-foot putt for birdie. Doyle’s putt found the bottom of the cup, allowing him to keep a two-hole advantage that he maintained the rest of the way.

“I know he was super excited to hit a putt from that distance, and I knew I needed to hit mine to take momentum back,” said Doyle. “Once I did, I felt pretty confident that I was going to take home the championship, and I was really happy with the way I played.”

Doyle enjoyed plenty of success on the links this summer leading up to the tournament. He earned first place at the U.S. Challenge Cup Event at Wintonbury Hills Golf Course in Bloomfield and also claimed the top spot at Connecticut Junior PGA Championship at Keney Park Golf Course in Windsor. Doyle shot three-under-par on the first day of the Junior PGA Championship and then went five-under-par for the second day to win that tournament by 10 strokes.

Representing Madison Country Club, Doyle turned in solid performances on all four days of the Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship. The first day of the tournament determined who qualified for match play, and Doyle came out of it as the No. 5 seed.

All of Doyle’s matches leading up to the championship were competitive, especially in the opening two rounds. Doyle defeated Luke Stennet 2 and 1 in his first match. His next match against Bradley Sawka ended up coming down to a three-hole playoff, and Doyle emerged victorious to advance to the quarterfinals.

“That was probably my most difficult match of the entire tournament,” Doyle said. “We both birdied the first playoff hole, then parred the next [in the playoff]. Then I hit a birdie to take control, but that match was incredible.”

The only time that Doyle trailed during match play was when he faced Ben Boyd in the quarterfinal round. However, Doyle wound up rallying to beat Boyd 3 and 2, after which he defeated Alex Gu in the semifinals, 5 and 4, to make his way into the championship.

With three recent titles under his belt, Doyle is planning to compete in tournaments across the United States in the coming weeks. Doyle’s family rented an RV and will be traveling to Texas, Florida, and Kentucky for national tournaments.

“The competition is definitely going to be tougher,” said Doyle. “I am probably going to be ranked No. 30 out of 43 golfers competing, whereas in Connecticut, I’m ranked near the top. But competition is what makes us better, and I love to compete.”

Doyle is a two-time All-SCC and All-State golfer for the Hand boys’ golf team. As a sophomore last year, Doyle helped the Tigers win SCC and Division II state titles, earning medalist honors at the state meet as the low scorer of the day with his one-under-par total of 70. While he was disappointed that the 2020 spring season was canceled, Doyle remains optimistic that he will go out in style as a senior next spring.

“It was tough not being able to compete this past season. We were really looking forward to trying to repeat, but we will get the opportunity again this coming year,” Doyle said. “We’ve got a lot of talent on the team, and I’m sure it will all work out for us.”

Even though he still has one high school season to go, Doyle has already made a verbal commitment to continue his golf career at Elon University, a Division I school in North Carolina. Ultimately, Doyle has aspirations of playing golf on the professional level.

“That’s the goal,” said Doyle. “I want to keep working hard, and I hope it pays off. I try and golf every single day, minimum 18 holes. You can’t take a day off with this sport.”


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