Centaur pg 9 6-6-19


Mason Stewart receives the ECC medalist plaque from ECC golf chairman and Bacon Academy athletic director Kevin Burke after finishing in a 3-way tie for first in the ECC Open boys’ golf championship May 30. Photo by Rich Garceau/The Woodstock Academy.

Both Woodstock Academy coach Rich Garceau and golfer Mason Stewart remembered how the senior started.
“From where he was as a freshman to where he is now is special,” Garceau said May 30 after he had just watched Stewart share first-place honors with two other golfers at the ECC Open boys’ golf championship.
“To be honest, he struggled to break 60 (in 9 holes) as a freshman. He could have packed it in,” Garceau said. “That’s the great thing about doing this. You see a kid who wants to get better and they do all the right things to put themselves in this position. I’m thrilled for Mason.”
Stewart shocked himself just a bit.
He shot a 75 to tie Killingly’s Nolan Marcoux and Tourtellotte’s Jared Belanger for the medalist honors.
“I surprised myself. I putted way better than I ever have. I had the round of my life and tied some really great golfers. Nothing to complain about,” Stewart said.
Garceau may beg to differ a bit on that.
Stewart did have some struggles on the course although the coach blamed himself a bit for those.
“The only bad holes he had was when I showed up. So after I realized that, I tried to make myself scarce,” Garceau said with a laugh. “Mason has the ability to scramble. He put himself in some really bad places (Thursday) and was able to put it behind him.”
The highlight for Stewart came where many could see.
Belanger, who was in Stewart’s group, was up on Stewart by a shot going into the 18th hole.
The Woodstock Academy senior had 195 yards in to the par-5 after his drive.
Since he was down wind and it was a little breezy, Stewart opted to drop down from a 6-iron to his seven.
Good choice.
He put the ball on the green, 10 feet from the hole.
Belanger was 25-feet from the hole in the fringe, putted before Stewart, and sank the birdie putt.
“My heart kind of dropped,” Stewart said. “I thought, ‘Well, we just have to make this one.’ I read it and I hit it perfectly. I gave it a big Tiger (Woods) fist pump.”
The eagle for Stewart pulled him into a tie with both Belanger and Marcoux. The Killingly golfer was in one of the first groups to come off the course and was sitting for quite a while alone atop the leaderboard.
Stewart said his short game was on Thursday.
Anything inside 100 yards, he was up-and-down on.
The only place he struggled, at times, was off the tee.
He wasn’t bothered by the breezy, almost raw conditions.
“I liked it,” Stewart said. “The wind wasn’t too much. It helped you on some shots, against you on others. You learn to accept it and play with it.”
The thing about Stewart is that he is a gamer.
“He worked hard,” Garceau said of Stewart’s development. “He did everything he needed to do. He listened to advice which, sometimes, for a kid is an amazing characteristic; be willing to listen and then, put it into action. He got himself out. Instead of sitting around the whole summer, he played tournaments, he practiced chipping in his backyard. He had the desire and some natural athleticism. You put all of that together and, next thing you know, you have an ECC championship golfer.”
The team, as a whole, had its difficulties with the Great Neck course.
The Centaurs finished with a 354 total, 31 strokes behind East Lyme which won its first ECC title since 1973, but good enough for a fifth-place finish.
“I know some of the guys are disappointed with the way they played. I was glad I could come in with a low score so we finished pretty well in the ECC. The difference from the beginning of the year to now, as a group, even off the golf course is a lot better. I couldn’t ask for a better team,” Stewart said.
Owen Borski tied for 19th with an 88 with Liam McDermott (94) in 33rd; Jake Starr (97) in 38th and Robert Maheu (101) in 42nd.
“They were disappointed, they had their struggles and had some of their better scores (Wednesday in a tie with Killingly). That’s fine. Wednesday was great and I was really pleased with finishing strong. The thing that really made me happy was when we got done, went into the clubhouse and were sitting together, that no one seemed to care if they played a bad round. Everybody was thrilled for Mason, knowing where he came from and where he is at now. Now, he’s going to graduate and serve his country in a few weeks. I think it was pretty special to see all the guys rally around him,” Garceau said.
Stewart is going to enlist in the Army.
The season was not over for the Centaurs.
They went back out on the course for another 18-hole endeavor at the Division II state championship June 3. The tournament ended too late for this edition.
Earlier in the week, The Centaurs earned a split with Killingly, 3 ½ - 3 ½ .
The tie with Woodstock Academy meant Killingly shared the ECC Division II regular season title with Waterford.
Both sported a 4-1-1 divisional record and both the Redmen and Lancers tied one of their matches with the Centaurs (0-4-2).
Stewart and Killingly’s Marcoux shared a point, both shot a 4-over par 40.
Borski (42), McDermott (47) and Maheu (43) scored wins for Woodstock Academy while Killingly (17-1-2) took the two team aggregate points.
The Redmen just edged the Centaurs in total strokes, 168-171. The Centaurs finished the regular season with a 9-6-2 record.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director
The Woodstock Academy


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