Monday, May 21, 2018 - Greenwich High School junior Jackson Fretty made 5 birdies, including a pair of 2s on the front side, to shoot (-3) 68 and lead round one of the 15th Russell C. Palmer Cup at the Country Club of Farmington Monday.
“I hadn’t seen the course before,” said Fretty, 17, who returned Monday morning from the Scott Robertson Memorial Tournament in Virginia. “So I played very conservatively. And I got off to the pretty hot start, with birdies on the first two par-3s. I kind of went into a birdie-bogey thing after that, but played a really solid back nine.” Fretty had father Steve on the bag “and that was super helpful.”
At the point that Fretty—in the second to the last group of the day—finished, four players were in with 69, one of them making even more 2s than the teenager did. With a 50-foot putt from off the green on the par-3 18th, Seth Jainchill of Keney Park Golf Club recorded his third 2 of the day to join Andrew Sciarretta of Brooklawn Country Club, Nicholas Piersall of TPC River Highlands and Rasmey Kong of Wallingford Country Club in the group at 69.
Fretty and those four were the only players in the 60s on the 6425-yard, par 71 Devereux Emmet design. Forty-one players made the cut, which fell at 75, and will play 36 holes tomorrow.
“I haven’t been this low for a long time,” said Jainchill, of his 69. “I have a better mental state right now. I have a job, two kids and one on the way. Lot of stuff in my life so I just come out and have fun.”
Kong, who finished just before Fretty, made six birdies, but missed a one-footer earlier in the round. “The putter was off and on,” said the former Yale and Wallingford club champion. “I kind of ground it out. “The rough was especially tough,” he said. “You just didn’t know what the ball was going to do coming out of it.”
Kyle Nolin of Tallwood Country Club and Ben Day of New Haven Country Club each shot (-1) 70. “The front nine was pretty steady, the back pretty tumultuous,” said Nolin. He eagled the 10th and putted well throughout. “I made a 60-footer there. I’ve been struggling with my putting and made a small change—I got my hands a little lower and I putted great.” Nolin said in qualifiers he’d played at Farmington, he’d been unsuccessful, not putting well. “For some reason today I saw everything pretty well.”
Patrick Griffin led eight members of Farmington who were in the field. He shot even-par 71 and was tied for ninth. Chris Herboldt of Wethersfield Country Club aced the second hole, also finishing at even par.
Given predictions of worsening weather and a more difficult set-up, the leaders seemed to agree that -5 or -6 (208 or 207) could win.
The Palmer Cup is Connecticut’s Stroke Play Championship. Its two-day, 54-hole competition is limited to 99 players who earned spots through qualifiers. The event honors Russell C. Palmer, former CSGA Executive Director (1986-1995) and inductee into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame (1997). It is presented by the KOTA Business Solutions, a CSGA partner.