Waterbury, Connecticut (May 25, 2021) – Chris Fosdick started the final round of the Russell C. Palmer Cup presented by Chris Cote’s Golf Shop four shots off the lead and for much of the day it looked like he would have to settle for a top-five finish. Final round co-leader and defending champion Rick Dowling was making seemingly easy work of a difficult Country Club of Waterbury layout on a sunny but windy day.
“Last week I had the Regional Championship in Nashville for Virginia and my iron game wasn’t there at all, and now to have this final round I felt like I put my game together and it feels really good,” said Fosdick of the win.
Dowling (EClub of Connecticut) began the final round tied for the lead with Austin Cilley (Lake of Isles Golf Club) at 1-under and after a front nine 2-under 33 Dowling jumped to 3-under and opened up a five shot advantage. Dowling’s front nine play was highlighted by a kick in birdie on the short par-3 8th.
However, on the back nine Dowling, the co-leader after each of the first two rounds began to lose some steam. One year after blitzing the back nine with a flawless 4-under 30 in the final round Dowling stumbled with bogeys on the 10th and 11th to open the door to Fosdick playing in the group ahead.
“I had a great front nine and I was really locked in,” Dowling said. “But on the back nine all the little things that were going well I just didn’t execute them on the back. I hung in there although I was kind of faltering a little bit.”
Following a level-par start to the final round through the first eight holes Fosdick began to find his grove. He birdied the short par-5 9th to move to 2-over at the turn. On the back nine his flat stick began to heat up. He rolled in a birdie putt on the par-3 12th from 20 feet then rammed home another bomb from 40 feet on the 14th for birdie. In a blink the reigning Connecticut Amateur champion was even-par and one back.
“I went out and hit a confident drive on the first hole of the final round, hit a decent wedge shot and made a good putt for birdie and at that point my game felt better than the previous two rounds. I knew if I kept playing like that I could maybe win this thing,” said Fosdick.
Meanwhile in the group behind, Dowling continued to struggle and after a bogey on the 15th he and Fosdick were tied. While Dowling slid backwards and Fosdick (Wallingford Country Club) surged into the lead the forgotten man Austin Cilley forced himself back into the picture. Following a 3-over 38 on the front nine Cilley drifted back to 2-over and for a time was six shots off the pace. Early on the back nine Cilley was able to right the ship with four consecutive pars before stuffing it to one foot on the 225-yard par-3 14th to get to 1-over and one back. Cilley was briefly in a three-way tie for the lead with Fosdick and Dowling but following a bogey on the 17th hole he settled for a 2-over second place finish.
“There are definitely a lot of positives I can take from the week but just some stupid mental mistakes cost me,” said Cilley. "I wasn’t hitting the ball really well today, I was scrambling today and in the end I was one shot short.”
Fosdick’s charge sputtered a bit with a bogey on the 16th but two pars on the closing two holes saw him post a final round 2-under 67, the low round of the 36-hole day, to finish 1-over.
Dowling tried to right the ship after bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16 with a par on the 17th but his tee shot on the 18th took the wind completely out of his sails. Sitting at 1-over and tied for the lead Dowling pushed his drive out of bounds to seal his fate. After an extensive search for his tee shot Dowling played a provisional ball and finished with a disappointing double-bogey that left him at 3-over in third. As Dowling made his way up the 54th hole Fosdick stood watching above the green and when Dowling’s approach shot didn’t fall the Palmer Cup was his.
The top-five was rounded out by 2018 champion Brian Ahern (Wampanoag Country Club) in fourth at 4-over while Thomas McCarthy (EClub of Connecticut) was 7-over in a tie for fifth.
Notes: In the second round Tuesday morning Austin Cilley recorded an ace on the 146-yard par-3 8th hole. One hour later Ahern aced the 205-yard par-3 14th hole.
About the Connecticut State Golf Association
The Russell C. Palmer Cup presented by Chris Cote’s Golf Shop is one of 19 championships conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association. The CSGA functions as an extension of the USGA and provides stewardship for amateur golf in Connecticut. Founded in 1899, it is the country’s oldest state golf association and conducts over 60 Championships, Qualifiers, and One Day Tournaments throughout the year.