Raymond Floyd, Jr. of Innis Arden Golf Club fired a two under-par round of 67 to grab the first round lead at the 11th Russell C. Palmer Cup. He leads by two strokes over Monte Mullen and Zack Zaback, both of TPC River Highlands.
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Russell C. Palmer Cup is a 54-hole stroke play competition being played at the Country Club of Waterbury on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 20th and 21st. Named for former Executive Director of the CSGA and Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame Member Russell C. Palmer, the event features Connecticut's top amateur golfers who are vying for the state's amateur stroke play title. The par-69 Donald Ross layout was originally founded in 1899 and is set up to play at a total of 6,558 yards for the competitors.
A classic New England Spring day greeted the players for the opening round, with swirling winds that held steady at 20 mph. Floyd got off to an up-and-down start, offsetting a pair of bogey’s on Holes #2 and #5 with birdies on #3 and #7. After a two-putt birdie on the 9th hole, Floyd stood at one under-par for the championship heading to the back nine.
“After making the turn, I birdied #12 with a knockdown 7-iron, and made a really good birdie on #17 after a bad tee shot. I was fortunate to be clear and hit a good shot into about 20-feet.,” said Floyd.
Although he would bogey the 18th hole, which played the hardest for the day and yielded no birdies, Floyd takes a lot of momentum heading into tomorrow. After a poor tee shot left him buried in US Open-type rough, a crucial round-saving six foot putt for bogey on the last hole of the day capped a spectacular round for the 2011 Connecticut Mid-Amateur Champion.
“That save for bogey on the last was my best putt of the day, by far,” said Floyd.
Although short by modern standards, the Donald Ross gem showed it can still test the state’s best players, producing a scoring average of 78.7, nearly two shots higher than last year’s opening round.
“My goal was really just to try stay close to par," said Floyd. "Today, I felt like if I shot around even par, that would be a good number. Going into the round, that was my mindset and I just played very conservative all day.”
While Floyd holds the overnight lead, he is being closely chased by some of the top collegiate players in the state. Monte Mullen, a rising senior at Central Connecticut State University and Zack Zaback, a rising junior at the University of Connecticut, both fired rounds of even-par 69 and stand just two shots off the lead.
Fresh of the completion of their spring season, both Mullen and Zaback will be looking to add to their already impressive resumes. This past season, Mullen, the 2010 Connecticut Junior Amateur Champion, posted four top-five finishes including a win at the New England Intercollegiate Golf Association Championship. Equally as impressive, Zaback led his team with a scoring average of 74.85 that included a win at the New England Division I Championships.
This year’s starting field of 78 players was trimmed to just 39 competitors following the conclusion of play on Tuesday. The cut line fell at the highest in championship history, eventually settling at ten over-par 79 (+10).
Players who made the cut will play 18-holes in the morning and 18-holes in the afternoon, with the lowest 54-hole total claiming the title. Starting times begin at 7:30 a.m. off the 1st and 10th tees, with the leaders teeing off at 8:30 a.m. Live hole-by-hole scoring will be available for the leading groups online at CTPalmerCup.com.
About the Connecticut State Golf Association
The Russell C. Palmer Cup is one of 18 championship tournaments 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 50 Championships, Qualifiers and One-Day Tournaments throughout the year. For more information, visit our website at csgalinks.org.