Madison (August 24) Thirty-nine players, all within 5 shots, advanced on Day One at the Connecticut Mid-Amateur at Madison Country Club, making for a leaderboard as congested as the Merritt Parkway on a Friday afternoon.
Cody Paladino and Dave Szewczul, who have won just about everything there is to win in Connecticut golf, along with Ellington Ridge Country Club’s Matthew Diramio, shot 68 (-2) to lead round one. But to say that their lead is tenuous would an understatement.
Lurking at minus-one along with 2018 Mid-Amateur Champion Ben Conroy was Lake of Isles Golf Club’s Austin Cilley, and H. Smith Richardson’s Dan Murphy. Only seven players broke par. Two others, Josh Cameron and Ron Soccoli, were even. (Soccoli knows Madison well, having played many high school matches here). A group of eleven players at one over par includes Defending Champion Ben Day and 2019 Russell C. Palmer Cup Champion Rick Hayes.
As Defending Champion Day predicted, scores were not as low as might be expected on a 6500-yard golf course on a fair if humid day when the often testy Madison wind was hardly a factor.
“You look at the course and think you can make six or seven birdies, and maybe you can, but it is not as easy at it appears and it is not as easy to get it close as you need to make birdies. You can hit a lot of good shots and leave yourself 15 or 20 feet. How many of those are you going to make?” said Paladino, who was runner-up at the Amateur and a contender last week at the Palmer Cup.
Paladino argued that the composition of Madison’s small greens are its defense. “There are a lot of good pins for greens this size. There are a lot of little slopes behind ridges making for spots where they can tuck a pin. That’s a real strength of the golf course.”
That said, Paladino and Diramio, made it look relatively easy today. Each had a completely “clean” scorecard, that is, two birdies, sixteen pars, no bogeys. Paladino made his birdies on the 445-yard, par-4 third and the 360-yard, par-4 7th. Diramio birdied the short par-4 4th, and the twisty, par-5 14th. Szewczul made four birdies and two bogeys, including one on the final hole, the 450-yard plus, par 4.
One player who seemed to be getting the hang of the greens was Dan Murphy, whose brother Tim, at +1 also advanced to Tuesday. “I think I made like three 20 footers to save par,” said Dan, who shot 69 despite a six on the par-4 third, where he had 100 yards in, but fumbled things from there. He made four birdies and a bogey after that, two of those birdies coming within the next three holes.
Murphy thinks scoring may go well lower on Tuesday. “I think somebody could shoot a really low number. The course is great. The greens are so good. They are true. When you hit a putt on line, it stays on line. Which means you can make putts. I would say that six under could win it.”
That’s two more 68s from our leaders….or any combination of numbers from the 36 other players, many experienced winners, who will tee it up on a wide open Tuesday.
The Mid-Am is open to amateurs who have reached the age of 25 by the first day of the championship and who have handicap indices of 8.4 or less. The field began with 107 players, narrowed to 39 on Monday.