FALMOUTH, ME -- While many were feeling the fatigue of three straight days of grueling competition at Falmouth Country Club, New Canaan's CJ Swift was able to weather the storm as the final rounds wore on.
In the end, his efforts were rewarded with the 2012 New England Amateur Championship on Thursday. Swift, who entered the final day of 36 holes with a one-stroke lead, increased his advantage by one through the morning round and then made his final move in the afternoon hours, which led him to a final score of 2-under par 282, a five-stroke victory and his first major title.
"It is my first amateur win, so I am pumped," said Swift, who will be a sophomore at Marquette University in the fall. "I am really happy right now. It is good motivation going into my U.S. Amateur qualifier on Monday and to start in the fall for college."
What made his victory even more impressive was Swift relied on his driver all week long. That was a risky move given that Falmouth Country Club's layout features dangerous hazards and out of bounds areas on nearly every hole.
"If I am hitting it well, I am going to pull it out," said Swift, who averages more than 300 yards off the tee. "I play aggressively and that is my style of play and that is what I am going to do."
In the end, however, his game plan worked perfectly as he was the only player able to post an under-par score through 72 holes.
"I drove the really ball and didn't put myself into too many bad positions," Swift said. "With my length out here I had 60 yards almost every time and I really took advantage of that."
One of the major turning points for Swift Thursday came on the 321-yard, par-4 7th hole. With the tees moved up, Swift pulled out his 3 wood and sent a perfect shot towards the hole which landed just on the back fringe. He proceeded to two putt for birdie.
"That was big," Swift said. "I came off a three putt (on the 6th hole) and put it just on the fringe about 15 feet from the hole and then I make three birdies in a row. It was a big motivational booster for me going into the back nine."
It not only gave him a stroke back, but it reversed a poor stretch of golf which had seen Swift make bogey on three of his last six holes. He went on to make birdie on the 8th hole before draining a 10-foot putt on No. 9 to make the turn at 1-under and extend his lead to five strokes.
"It really jump started me and kept my spirits high heading into the back nine," Swift said of his putt on No. 9. "I wasn't putting well all day, so to make a putt like that was great."
It was not the easiest or smoothest of finishes. Through his final 18 holes, Swift made just seven pars to go along with five birdies and six bogies.
"I coasted towards the end, and I held them off," said Swift, who posted a final round score of 1-over par 72. "Walking to the 18th tee, I asked where I stood and they said three up so all nerves were gone at that point."
Earlier in the day, Swift began the third day of play on the 10th tee and made bogey on two of his first three holes. He righted the ship and played even par golf through his final 15 holes to finish the first 54 holes at 3-under par 210.