Cody Paladino of Wethersfield Country Club held a one stroke lead heading into the final day and never looked back, posting a one under-par round of 70 for a two stroke victory at the 81st Connecticut Open Championship at The Patterson Club. The state’s most prestigious open championship was held July 27th – 29th at the 6,824 yard par-71 course in Fairfield, 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 renowned The Patterson Club in Fairfield, Connecticut. The total purse for the tournament is $50,000, with the professional champion capturing a winner’s check of $12,500.
Paladino, the 2006 and 2013 CSGA Player of the Year, began the day with a one stroke lead over Pete Ballo of Woodway Country Club and amateur Nick Harrington of The Windham Club. But with a total of thirteen players within five shots of the lead, he knew he had to play well to have a chance at the title. Paladino opened his round with eight straight pars and standing in the fairway at the par-5 ninth, he held a two stroke victory over four-time Connecticut Open Champion Kyle Gallo of Tallwood Country Club. From there, he hit his approach to within a foot, good enough for a birdie and a three shot lead at the turn.
“The birdie on 9 was a huge kick-start and really got the day going in the right direction,” said Paladino. “I made some great par saves on the fifth and sixth holes, and when I saw the leaderboard on the sixth green, I saw that no one was really making a big move. So I was totally fine starting out with eight straight pars. The pins were very difficult and it was hard to get the ball close to the hole.”
After making the turn in one under-par and -7 for the championship, he tacked on another birdie the par-5 11th to get to -8. Standing on the twelfth tee, his lead was three – but he would not be without chasers
“I had a feeling if someone was going to shoot four or five under, it would have to be a really special round,” said Paladino. “So I just kept focusing on what I was doing and not get complacent out there.”
Indeed, there would be a host of players who used the back nine to put together a special round and catapult up the leaderboard. Among them was amateur John Flaherty of TPC River Highlands, the first round co-leader who birdied #9, 11 and 14 to jump to six under-par for the championship, just two shots behind the lead.
“I hit the ball great today, and made a few good putts out there,” said Flaherty. “When I made the turn at three under-par, I was thinking I had a chance if I could get it going on the back nine. In my opening round, I shot 30 on the back nine, so I knew I could make birdies on that side.”
With a host of players chasing him, Paladino hit his tee shot on the par-3 12th hole into the greenside bunker. Knowing he needed to keep the momentum going, he rolled in a clutch par save to maintain his two shot advantage.
“The par save on #12 was really a key moment in the round,” said Paladino. “After making birdies on #9 and 11, I hit it in the bunker and after making that save, I felt like I could focus and play solid golf from there on out.”
Even when a pair of bogies on the 15th and 16th holes dropped his lead from three strokes to one, Paladino rebounded like a champion, hitting his approach on the par-4 17th to fifteen feet and calmly rolling in the birdie putt. After hitting it just long on the final hole, an up-and-down fifteen foot par save on the final hole sealed the two stroke victory for the 26 year-old from Kensington, Connecticut.
“The 17th hole was a huge moment and the tournament was on the line. I made two sloppy bogies on #15 and 16, and knowing #17 and 18 were into the wind, I knew I had to play them well. I wasn’t hitting the short irons as well today but I putted extremely well, and the putt on #17 was the exclamation point.”
For Paladino, the Connecticut Open marks his fifth CSGA major championship, having already won the Connecticut Public Links Championship (2006), Russell C. Palmer Cup (2013), Connecticut Amateur (2013) and Tournament of Champions (2013). He will next compete in the Manchester Open and a host of local events in New England before returning to South America for the second half of the PGA Tour Latinoamerica season.
“After winning so many tournaments as an amateur in 2013, to win my first tournament as a professional is truly special. I was in contention a few times since then, but it’s been a year and a half since I won, so to be able to finish it off is such a great feeling. Even though I didn’t hit the ball as well today, I proved to myself that I can win with my ball striking, but I can also do it with my short game.”
Low Amateur Honors
John Flaherty of TPC River Highlands held the lead after the first round with a six under-par round of 65, and despite shooting 76 in his second round, was able to charge up the leaderboard and claim low amateur honors. Flaherty’s final round 67 tied for the low round of the day, and was able to edge Clark Robinson of Ellington Ridge Country Club by two strokes. At day’s end, five amateurs finished inside the top fifteen, and a total of fifteen amateurs made the cut at this year’s championship.