Cody Paladino of Wethersfield Country Club shot a three under-par 68 in his second round to take a two stroke lead heading into the final round of the 82nd Connecticut Open. 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.
After trailing the lead by one heading into the second round, Paladino backed up his solid opening round of 67 with a three under-par round of 68 to post a two-round total of 135 (-7). For the second consecutive day, Paladino made just one bogey on his round, due in part to his solid ball striking and exceptional putting.
“Today was just another really solid round and another great round of ball striking,” said Paladino. “I hit seventeen greens today so that made things pretty simple. I made a few nice birdie putts but missed a few good looks too. Overall, it’s just been two really solid rounds of golf.”
Heading into tomorrow’s final round, Paladino is looking to become the first back-to-back champion since Nick Cook successfully defended his title in 2006 at Ridgewood Country Club. The 2013 CSGA Player of the Year is coming off making the cut in his first Web.com start (LECOM Health Challenge, New York) and currently plays full-time on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica.
“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and obviously I’m pretty confident given the way I’ve been hitting the ball this week,” said Paladino. “But more importantly, I’m just having a lot of fun out here with my caddie Keith, and I can’t wait to get back out on the course tomorrow.”
Trailing Paladino by two strokes at 137 (-5) is Corey Birch of Silver Spring County Club, who finds himself in the final pairing in his professional debut. The 2016 Connecticut Amateur finalist and Russell C. Palmer runner-up turned professional just hours before the start of the tournament, and shot a second round 66 that included six birdies to catapult up the leaderboard.
Sitting in third place just three strokes at 138 (-4) behind is a familiar face in two-time Connecticut Open Champion Jeff Curl of Cedar Knob Golf Course. Like Birch, Curl was able to take advantage of the soft conditions to shoot a round of five under-par 66. Aside from his stellar second round, Curl enters the final round with plenty of confidence, having won the New England Open Championship earlier this June.
Rounding out the top five is three-time champion Frank Bensel of Century Country Club, who shot a second round 67, and William Street of Whitney Farms Golf Course who continued his steady play with an even-par 71.
“I was pleased with my play today and I managed to only miss one fairway all day,” said Street. “I had a little trouble adjusting to the softer conditions on the greens but overall I am excited to have the opportunity to try and catch the leaders tomorrow.”
The 82nd Connecticut Open Championship concludes Wednesday, with the leaders teeing off at 9:30 a.m. Live hole-by-hole scoring will be available for all of the leading groups online at ConnecticutOpen.com. Admission to Woodway Country Club is free for the Connecticut Open and spectators are welcome to attend.
Making “The Cut”
This year’s starting field of 156 players was trimmed to just the low 42 competitors following the conclusion of play on Tuesday. Each year, the lowest 40 competitors, plus ties, advance to play the final round of stroke play on the third and final day.
The cut line was projected at 151 (+9) to start the day, but the overnight rain helped soften the greens and saw the scoring average drop nearly a full stroke in round two. All professional players who make the cut earn a paycheck, with the winner taking home the first-place professional prize of $12,500.
Leading Groups Starting Times (Starting on #1 Tee)
9:03 a.m. - Greg Reilly, CC of Darien (141) and Pete Ballo, Woodway CC (141)
9:12 a.m. – William Street, Whitney Farms GC (139) and Daniel Balin, Burning Tree GC (140)
9:21 a.m. – Jeff Curl, Cedar Knob GC (138) and Frank Bensel, Century CC (139)
9:30 a.m. – Cody Paladino, Wethersfield CC (135) and Corey Birch, Silver Spring CC (137)