On occasion I write about individual achievements that are worth bringing to your attention. This past weekend Daniel Connolly ran away with the Northern California Stroke Play Championship at Poppy Hills with rounds of 68-69-71.
Since I was there, and played all three rounds, I can attest to the difficult challenge that Poppy Hills threw at this star-studded field of many college and young elite players from Northern California. Yes, the field was missing a few of the best Nor-Cal standouts do to another event being held at Sahalee, but that had no bearing on the eventual winner Daniel Connolly with a 5 under par winning total.
Since I have known Daniel since he was a wee-lad from the Olympic Club, I am excited to write to you what a fine young gentleman he is. He carries himself humbly and exemplifies everything that is good about golf and the people that are passionate about this sport. He possesses the heart of a champion, and has progressed through the junior ranks and now into the college ranks advancing his game step-by-step.
I had the pleasure of dining with Daniel, and my good friend, his father Martin, on Thursday evening before the start of the tournament. I was very curious to hear about what Daniel thought about his college experience to date, and what his goals are looking forward. This young man is realistic about how tough it will be to play professional golf, but certainly has the confidence in his abilities to grow and mature in the game he loves and to compete at the highest level.
Daniel and I shared a very special day in 2016 when we both won our flights in the San Francisco City Championship, an event we both cherish in our local area. I remember walking out to the 17th hole at Harding Park (after I had won the Senior division) with the rain coming down sideways, and witnessed Daniel strip a 6 iron on the green and then drain a 25 foot putt to win the championship. Those are memories for a lifetime!!!
Having watched top amateur talent come up through the ranks in NCGA and USGA events, you never know who may be the next Jordan Spieth or Justin Thomas. But I can again attest to the distance off the tee per pounds of the golfing world, and Daniel stacks up there with the biggest hitters in the game per pound. That combined with a deft putting stroke, and a fearless attitude can get you a long way in this game.
I believe that Daniel possesses all the talent to play this game at the highest level, but hard work and a relentless work ethic will be the difference maker in this young mans future. Some guys just cannot rise about the distractions that life throws your way. I see a focus and quiet brilliance in this kid’s eyes. I don’t believe there will ever be another Tiger Woods, who single handedly can change the face of the game, but I believe that many top young players will make their mark in this game we love, and they’ll do it with great respect and integrity for the game they love.
It was pure joy for me watching the Daniel and father Martin on the bag coming up the 16th hole. I believe Daniel held a 5 shot lead at the time, but was out of position on the hole, left with a difficult 5o yard pitch shot to the green with a front pin location. He had a very tight lie, and I thought it would be very difficult to get up and down for his par. So after carefully studying the shot up at the green and then back to his ball, Daniel cooly hit a flop-shot that landed perfectly on the front of the green and found its way to the bottom of the hole. Seems every time I come out to watch Daniel he is doing things I used to watch Tiger do when I briefly competed against him. Keep an eye on this young man, he has a brilliant game and will represent our region well!!
Below is the link provided by amateur golf.com which covered the event
Coming up next the detail of my upcoming crazy schedule that brings me to Michigan for the USGA Senior Am qualifier, flight to London for the Senior Open Qualifier in Wales, and then back to London for the Senior Amateur at Sunningdale. Also more on Side Saddle putting in my next post.