By Bruce Berlet

Team Connecticut notched a big upset in the semifinals but came up short in the final of the National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship on Sunday.

The eight players on fourth-seeded Connecticut representing Torrington beat No. 1 Florida from Orlando 7.5-4.5 in the semifinals but lost by the same score in the final to No. 3 Utah of Lehi, which made its debut in the championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The four-person ESPN2 crew that announced the final included longtime Connecticut resident and former PGA Jr. League captain Suzy Whaley, the first female PGA of America officer who is now the organization’s honorary president after serving as secretary, vice president and president starting in 2014. It was the first time that the 12-team event was shown on national television.

Ken Fernandes, Will Lord, Luke Hoglund, Brennan Meyers, North Chery, Robby Rosati, Jack Chung and Rocco Capalbo comprised the Connecticut team that made its third appearance in the championship. The team captain was Rob Sparks, the head pro at Fairview Farms Golf Course in Harwinton, and its coach was Jim Bunel, an assistant at Fairview Farms.

“Oh my goodness, it was just amazing,” said Utah captain Tele Wightman, a former assistant coach of the Utah women’s golf team who grew up in Chicopee, Mass. “You’ve got Oklahoma, Florida, Connecticut … such good teams, but we really believed in ourselves and felt like we had a team that could get it done. Then you are watching [the match unfold] and you think, this could be happening. The shots they pulled off towards the end, it’s amazing.”

The Utah team included Jordan Ofahengaue, 11, whose “uncle” is two-time U.S. Ryder Cup member Tony Finau. The father of five spent his afternoon tuned into ESPN2 watching the live coverage, tweeting and posting on Instagram.

“My man Jordan balled out to help Utah win! Proud of him,” Finau tweeted. After the match ended, Finau FaceTimed the team and told them how proud he was of what they had accomplished minutes earlier.

“He was so proud of us,” Wightman said. “We have incredible support back home and all around, and it was cool to get a phone call from Tony.”

Second-seeded Oklahoma defeated Florida 7.5-4.5 for third place.

The PGA Jr. League exists to bring together friends, families and communities together around golf. It’s committed to the American Development Model (ADM), designed by sports scientists and global experts in alignment with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and its National Governing Bodies. It provides developmentally appropriate experiences that set players up for lifelong sport participation. Through a welcoming format, age-appropriate yardages, All-Star player age minimums and more, the ADM is implemented throughout the entire program from start to finish.