MERIDEN — Les Zimmerman missed last year’s Meriden City Open and Meriden Golf Senior Championship due to a herniated disk in his neck. The 70-year-old came back at 100 percent and it shows.
The six-time Meriden Senior champion and 12-time Meriden Open champ shot a career-low 67 on Hunter Golf Club in the opening round of the Senior championships on Wednesday morning.
“I shot under my age and that was one of my goals for the year,” Zimmerman said. “It’s been a struggle this year so far, but everything fell into place. My tee to green was better and my chipping and putting was good. I was 100 percent up-and-down and I chipped it in once for birdie.”
The chip on No. 12 was the highlight of his round. He canned a birdie from 50 feet.
“Once in a while they go in,” Zimmerman said.
“Everyone else is making bogey or double bogey from there,” said Kevin Grobsky, who witnessed the shot. “It’s so remarkable to see him do this year after year.”
It was one of five birdies on the day for Zimmerman. He birdied No. 5, No. 6, No. 12, No. 16 and No. 18. The birdie putts on No. 5 and No. 18 were in excess of 20 feet.
His lone bogey came when he three-putted at No. 10.
“It was tough missing last year,” Zimmerman said. “As I’ve said before, Father Time is undefeated and I know my good years remaining are limited. It was lousy to miss the whole season last year. Until today, I’ve struggled with consistency with stuff that I would never do. But I played well today.”
Before his round on Wednesday, Zimmerman’s best round was a 74 in 2019.
Despite the 67, the tournament is far from over. Zimmerman remains just two strokes ahead of Grobsky, a two-time City Open.
Grobsky carded a 69 that included four birdies, on Nos. 6, 9, 12 and 18. His only trouble was on No. 15, where he made double bogey.
The two played together along with Jose Diaz (79) and the trio finished briskly, in less than three and a half hours.
Grobsky and Zimmerman were effective on the green. Grobsky made 15-footers on No. 6 and No. 12.
“Any time I play with Les, it’s a pleasure because you can see the best play and you can see where your game compares,” Grobsky said. “Today was fun. I chipped and putted well. I made some good shots. I had a major hiccup on 15, but other than that I putted well and made a couple of putts. But, when someone in a group starts making putts, then everyone else in the group starts making putts.”
Two-time defending champ Paul Bernier is six shots off the pace with a 73. Bill Zanetto also remains in the hunt with a 75. Also shooting in the 70s were Diaz, Larry Michaud (79) and Del Weston (79).
Rounding out the 13-player field were: Terry Slowther (81), Bob Smith (81), Howard Benane (82), Don Berube (88), Mike Kennedy (92) and Larry Jardine (104).
Zimmerman heads the field in the Net Division as well with a 62. He’s followed by Grobsky (65) and Zanetto (66).
“I’m impressed by the scores,” Hunter Golf Club Pro Bob Tiedemann said. “Kevin and Les are going to want to shoot those scores when we have the Meriden Open next week. We haven’t been getting that good of golf in our regular tournaments. I’m looking forward to see what happens tomorrow.”
The golfers will be back on the course on Thursday morning for the final 18 holes to decide the champion.
The Meriden City Open will be held Aug. 17 and 18 at Hunter. The event is sponsored by Meriden Hyundai.