Anthony Casalino of Innis Arden Golf Club fired a round of five under-par 66 to take the overnight lead at the 82nd Connecticut Open Championship. The state’s most prestigious open championship is being played on the 6,862 yard, par-71 layout at Woodway Country Club in Darien, Connecticut.
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Connecticut Open is the only CSGA Championship that is open to both amateurs and professionals. The tournament tests the state’s top golfers over three rounds of stroke play at the historic Woodway Country Club, which is celebrating its centennial anniversary in conjunction with hosting the Connecticut Open. The total purse for the tournament is $50,000, with the professional champion capturing a winner’s check of $12,500.
Thunderstorms in the area first halted play at 3:25 p.m., with play resuming an hour later. After another line of heavy thunderstorms came through at 7:00 p.m., play was suspended for the day. The morning wave of 78 players were all able to complete their round, while all 78 players in the afternoon wave still have holes remaining in their round. The first round will resume on Tuesday at 8:00 a.m., with the second round delayed ninety minutes and beginning 9:30 a.m.
Casalino started strong and finished strong, making birdie on his opening hole and making birdies on #17 and 18 en route to an opening round of 66. He recorded six birdies on his round, matched with just a single bogey on the par-3 ninth hole.
“I hit some good shots and some bad shots but I held it together and had some easy birdie putts,” said Casalino. “The greens are tough if you hit it far away from the hole, so I was fortunate to have a lot of short birdie putts. Overall I played well and putted well, and I’m just hoping to keep hitting the ball like I did today.”
Casalino holds a one stroke advantage over defending champion Cody Paladino of Wethersfield Country Club is looking to become the first player since Nick Cook (2005-06) to successfully defend their Connecticut Open title. After an opening bogey on the difficult par-4 10th, Paladino played near perfect golf, making five birdies on his next 17 holes to finish at four under-par 66.
“All around it was a solid start to the week,” said Paladino. “Except for the bogey on #10 to start the day, I struck the ball really well and managed my game well. As the weather got hotter and greens got firmer and faster, I seemed to putt better and better, so I’m hoping to continue that trend for the rest of the week.”
William Street of Whitney Farms Golf Course sits in third place after shooting a round of three under-par 68 and is just two strokes off the lead. Street, the 2013 Connecticut PGA Match Play Champion, made six birdies in his round, tied for the most among any competitor in the field.
“To play well out here you need to hit the fairway and that was my game plan today,” said Street. “I was able to hit most of the fairways and fifteen greens, so that made the course a lot easier. I feel like the course really fits my game so I’m just going to try to stick to my game plan and keep trying to hit fairways and greens.”
The conclusion of the first round and second round of stroke play will be played Tuesday before the field is trimmed to the low 40 players who will advance to the final round on Wednesday. Live scoring throughout the week is available at ConnecticutOpen.com.
Top Amateurs Seeking First Open Title
Dave Szewczul of Tunxis Plantation Country Club and Max Theodorakis of Ridgewood Country Club both shot the low amateur rounds of the morning wave with rounds of two over-par 73. Jay Crowley is currently holds the lead amongst amateurs, and stands at two under-par through 12 holes. Crowley, along with the rest of the amateurs in this year’s field, will be seeking to become the first amateur since Jeff Hedden to win the title as an amateur (2008, Round Hill Club).
What’s in a Cut?
Following Tuesday’s round, the field will be cut to the low 40 players, plus ties. Those players will advance to play the final round on Wednesday, July 27th. With only the morning wave finishing their round, there are 27 players at 75 (+4) or better. Based on the projected cut method used by the USGA, the cut line would fall at 150 (+8).
About the Course: Woodway Country Club was founded in 1916, with the present championship course designed by Willie Park, Jr. Park was responsible for designing over 170 courses throughout the world, including Maidstone Golf Club, Olympia Fields Country Club, New Haven Country Club and Shuttle Meadow Country Club. The 2016 Connecticut Open marks the fourth time that Woodway Country Club has played host to this prestigious event. The club has previously hosted the Connecticut Open in 1964, 1983 and 1995, the Connecticut Amateur in 1928, 1937, 1971 and 2009, and co-hosted the Connecticut Senior Amateur in 1963.