On a cool and rainy day at the Country Club of Waterbury, eighty-nine of the state’s best amateurs began their quest for the Russell C. Palmer Cup trophy, presented by the Lincoln Motor Company. Monte Mullen (TPC River Highlands), David Giulietti (Golf Club of Avon) and Steve Chevalier (Lake of Isles) all posted rounds of even-par 69 and share the overnight lead.
Mullen, the 2010 Connecticut Junior Amateur Champion, is coming off a fantastic summer of competitive golf where he finished ninth in the CSGA Player of the Year points and was a semifinalist in last year’s Connecticut Amateur Championship. He will be hoping to avenge a near-miss in the Palmer Cup in 2014, where he shot a final round 69 but lost in a playoff to Blake Morris.
“I knew I needed to be around par after the first round so I just tried to stay patient and capitalize on as many opportunities as I could,” said Mullen, who charged up the leaderboard with a back-nine 32 after shooting 37 on the opening nine. “The greens were pretty fast and the patience definitely helped me throughout the day.”
Both Chevalier and Giulietti are searching to capture their first CSGA major championship. Chevalier had the best round going after making eagle on the par-5 9th hole to go to two under-par for the championship. An unfortunate double-bogey six on the par-4 15th hole dropped him to even-par, but three straight par’s on the closing stretch solidified his spot at the top of the leaderboard.
“I drove the ball pretty well for most of the front nine and pretty much all of the back nine,” said Chevalier. “I putted really well; I got the speed of the greens pretty early on. The highlight was the 9th hole - I hit a low six-iron and landed it just over the pond…it rolled up and I had about 25 feet straight up the hill with a little right to left and I knocked it in for eagle.”
Giulietti, who competed on this year’s Julius Boros Challenge Cup Team, played steady golf despite the deteriorating conditions. After starting off with back-to-back bogies on the opening pair of holes, he made three birdies and just one bogey for an even-par round of 69. Giulietti is no stranger to the big stage, having finished 11th at last year’s Mid-Amateur and second low amateur at the Connecticut Open Championship.
All three players will be paired together for both rounds of the 36-hole finale and will be hoping to echo the consistency of last year’s champion Zach Zaback, who took two-stroke lead heading into the final round and won by six.
“I always love this tournament and the 36-hole finale is a good test of consistency,” said Mullen. “I’m going to try to not expect too much early tomorrow morning as there is a lot of golf to be played and a lot of fluctuations on the leaderboard.
Trailing just one stroke behind the leaders is Brent Dietz of Cedar Knob Golf Course and Scott Cruff of Richter Park Golf Course. Dietz, the 2007 Mid-Amateur Champion and 2013 Public Links Champion, finished seventh in last year’s Palmer Cup. Cruff, the 2003 Connecticut Junior Amateur Champion, recently moved back to Connecticut and is searching to capture his second CSGA major title. A total of fifteen players stand within three shots of the lead, including 2016 Public Links Champion Kyle Nolin (71), 2016 Connecticut Mid-Amateur and Public Links Champion Chet Hrostek (71), 2015 Russell C. Palmer Cup Champion Benjamin Day (72) and 2015 Connecticut Amateur Champion Evan Grenus (72).
Starting times begin at 7:30 a.m. off the 1st and 10th tees, with the leaders teeing off at 8:40 a.m. Live hole-by-hole scoring will be available for the leading groups online at CTPalmerCup.com.
Making the Cut: This year’s starting field of 89 players was trimmed to just 44 competitors following the conclusion of play on Monday, with the cut line falling at seven over-par 76. 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.
Shot of the Day: Mike Carey of East Hartford G.C. recorded the shot of the day on Waterbury's difficult 412 yard, par 4 second hole. Carey hit 3-wood off the tee which left him 149 yards from the hole. "It's an elevated green, and a little uphill, so I hit 8-iron, less than full maybe 80%," said Carey. His ball flew directly into the cup for an eagle two. "It was a slam dunk. We could hear it hit the base of the flagstick from back in the fairway, and it must have flown straight in because there wasn't a mark on the green or anywhere near the hole." Carey's eagle on the second highlighted a roller coaster round, but his 74 was well within the cut line assuring his place in the field for the final 36 holes.
About the Tournament: Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Russell C. Palmer Cup presented by the Lincoln Motor Company is a 54-hole stroke play competition being played at the Country Club of Waterbury on Monday and Tuesday, May 22nd and 23rd. Named for Russell C. Palmer, former CSGA Executive Director (1986-1995) and inductee into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame (1997), the Palmer Cup is the Connecticut Stroke Play Championship.
About the Course: The 2017 Russell C. Palmer Cup marks the ninth time that the Country Club of Waterbury has hosted the event. In addition to hosting the Palmer Cup, the CC of Waterbury has also hosted ten Connecticut Amateur Championships and the 2005 Connecticut Open Championship. The club was originally founded in 1899 and the present Championship course was designed and completed in 1929 by renowned architect Donald Ross.