ORANGE -- With four and a half holes to play in his round of 16 match of the 110th Connecticut Amateur Golf Championship Wednesday afternoon, second-seeded Christopher Swift looked like he could soon be eliminated.
Swift, a New Canaan native who plays out of Milford's Great River Golf Club, stood about 200 yards away as he approached his uphill third shot to the par-5 14th hole of Race Brook Country Club. Already a hole down to Jeffrey Evanier, and with Evanier having only 30 yards to the flag for his third shot, Swift needed something to shift the momentum.
Swift then rifled a long iron up over a green-side bunker and onto the green, allowing him to save par and stay only one hole down. From that moment on, Swift found his confidence, as he would make birdies on the 15th and 17th holes en route to a 2 and 1 victory over Evanier.
A rising sophomore on the Marquette University golf team, Swift is now the top seeded player left in the tournament, as stroke-play medalist Brendan Lemp of Wampanoag Country Club was defeated in the round of 32. Swift, who struggled with his putter early on, said he had to talk himself through the round of 16 match.
"I just told myself that I had to play better, because I knew (Evanier) was not going to give me anything," Swift said. "The birdie putt on 15 pumped me up."
Swift was at his best as the wind picked up on the final three holes. After his birdie on the 15th hole squared the match, he took advantage of an unfortunate break for Evanier, a Weston High graduate who plays at Eckerd College. Evanier's approach shot on the par-4 16th hole plugged in the green-side bunker, causing him to bogey the hole, giving Swift a one-hole advantage.
Then on the par-4 17th, Swift hit a short iron out of the right rough to about 12 feet. After Evanier made par, Swift rolled in the putt for birdie to claim the match.
The two-hole margin of victory was the largest lead either player had at any point in the match. Evanier had the lead more often than Swift, but never could expand his lead past a hole.
Swift will move on to face Geoff Vartelas of Lyman Orchards Golf Club in the quarterfinals. Swift insists that despite playing 30 holes Wednesday, he still has plenty in the tank for the remainder of the tournament.
"Every match is just the next step towards winning the championship," Swift said. "I won't be tired (Thursday), I'm still young."
Also advancing to the quarterfinals was Patrick Ross of Wilton's Rolling Hills Country Club. Ross defeated Kevin Josephson of Stanley Golf Course in New Britain. Ross birdied the par-4 18th to win the match two-up.
The quarterfinals will start Thursday morning at 8 a.m. at Race Brook. The semifinals will be played Thursday afternoon.