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Three Connecticut Players to Compete in 40th U.S. Mid-Amateur

The 144-yard par-3 14th hole at Sankaty Head Golf Club on Nantucket (USGA Photo)

(September 17, 2021) – Eric Bleile, Cody Paladino, and Brad Tilley of Connecticut will all be in the field later this week at the 40th U.S. Mid-Amateur. After being canceled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic the U.S. Mid-Amateur will head to Nantucket to be contested at host course Sankaty Head Golf Club and stroke play co-host Miacomet Golf Course.

A field of 264 players will begin play on Saturday, September 25th with the field being cut to the low 64 for the beginning of match play on Monday, September 27th. Five rounds of match play will set the stage for the 36-hole championship match on Thursday, September 30th. 

The winner of the U.S. Mid-Amateur will receive an invitation to the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts and a likely invitation to the 2022 Masters along with exemptions into the next ten U.S. Mid-Amateurs and next two U.S. Amateurs. 

Connecticut Players in the Field

Eric Bleile (Weston, CT)

How Eric Qualified: With a 2-under 70 at Indian Hill Country Club at the end of August Bleile earned the final of five qualifying spots finishing one-stroke in front of three others. Bleile converted a remarkable up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 18th hole to punch his ticket.

USGA Appearances:

Last USGA Appearance: 1999 U.S. Public Links

2021 Season Highlights:

  • Round of 32 at Connecticut Amateur
  • T14 at Connecticut Mid-Amateur
  • Two One Day championships

Q&A with Eric:

CSGA: How excited are you to play in the U.S. Mid-Amateur?

Eric: I am very excited to be playing in my first U.S. Mid-Amateur and feel honored to be doing so.

CSGA: What is your game plan for the tournament?

Eric: One of my employees randomly used to work at Sankaty Head Golf Club and will be caddying for me.

CSGA: The tournament is uniquely being played on Nantucket. How do you plan to travel to the event? What does your lodging look like?

Eric: My friend Jason Jaworski has a good buddy named Mitch Hoffman who has a home on Nantucket very close to Miacomet Golf Course. He has offered his house for me to stay there and I plan to take a vehicle across on the ferry Wednesday night. 

Cody Paladino (West Hartford, CT)

How Cody Qualified: Paladino fired a 2-under 67 at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rhode Island to share medalist honors and earn one of the three qualifying spots. During his round Paladino birdied three times while he bogeyed just once. 

USGA Appearances: 9

USGA Highlight: Finished as the runner-up in the 2007 U.S. Public Links falling to future PGA professional Colt Knost

Last USGA Appearance: 2010 U.S. Public Links

2021 Season Highlights:

  • New England Amateur champion
  • Runner-up at the Connecticut Amateur
  • T2 Connecticut Mid-Amateur
  • Tournament of Champions winner

Q&A with Cody:

CSGA: How excited are you to play in a USGA event again?

Cody: This will be a totally new experience for me, since I've never played in a U.S. Mid-Amateur before, but having an opportunity to play in the U.S. Mid-Amateur was a big part of why I wanted to get my amateur status back after playing professionally. Now that we're just a few days away from traveling out to Nantucket, I can't wait to get going and have a great end to the season.

CSGA: How are you preparing for the U.S. Mid-Amateur?

Cody: It's been great having a little more time to prepare specifically for this event. During the summer, the schedule is pretty packed so we basically roll from one event to the next. For this event, I've been able to dedicate time to working on specific shots and also distance control in the wind, which I think will be critical to playing well given the windy conditions on Nantucket.

CSGA: What are you most looking forward to?

Cody: I'm really looking forward to sharing this experience with my fiancé Anna, who will be staying on Nantucket with me. This event is only three weeks before our wedding, so hopefully she's able to relax and take her mind off of wedding planning. One of the groomsmen in my wedding, Ross Alberghini, is also staying on Nantucket and caddying for me which should be an awesome experience.

CSGA: The tournament is uniquely being played on Nantucket. How do you plan to travel to the event? What does your lodging look like?

Cody: The USGA did a wonderful job of arranging host family housing for the players, which is very helpful considering there are so few hotels on the island. Anna and I will be staying with a host family who lives right next to Miacomet and my caddie Ross is staying with a family friend who has a house near Sankaty Head. I'm also bringing my car onto the island so we'll have some freedom and hopefully get to explore some other spots besides just the golf courses!

Brad Tilley (Easton, CT)

How Brad Qualified: Top 40 age-eligible points leader in the World Amateur Golf Ranking

USGA Appearances: 9

USGA Highlight: Medalist and Quarterfinalist at 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur

Last USGA Appearance: 2018 U.S. Mid-Amateur

2021 Season Highlights:

  • Richardson Memorial Championship winner
  • Medalist at Connecticut Amateur
  • Second at Westchester Open Championship
  • Third at Gasparilla Invitational

Q&A with Brad:

CSGA: After the U.S. Mid-Amateur was canceled last year due to the pandemic how excited are you to be able to play again?

Brad: Anytime you get to play a USGA event it is a big deal and this is one of the biggest events of the season, so after missing it last year and failing to qualify in 2019, I’m very excited to be back!

CSGA: How do you prepare for USGA events?

Brad: I don’t really prepare differently for a USGA event. I just think the opportunity to have on-site practice rounds and more time right before the event makes it easier to prepare. I have played in enough [USGA events] to know what to expect. 

CSGA: What do you know about Sankaty Head Golf Club and Miacomet Golf Course?

Brad: I don’t know much about the courses up there except for what people have told me is that they are great for iron players and second shot courses. I think that and the forecasted wind plays into my favor.

Notables:

Tommy McDonagh (New York, NY) - 2006 & 2011 Connecticut Amateur champion

How Tommy Qualified: McDonagh earned medalist honors at the Cherry Valley Club qualifier in mid-August. The two-time Connecticut Amateur champion posted a 3-under 69 to earn one of six spots into the field. McDonagh was 1-over at the turn before going low on the back nine rolling in four birdies on his way to a 4-under 31.

USGA Appearances: 9th USGA appearance

Last USGA Appearance: 2021 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

Q&A with Tommy:

CSGA: How excited are you to play in the U.S. Mid-Amateur: 

Tommy: I am pumped to play in U.S. Mid-Amateur. This is the biggest tournament of the year for me and I’m looking forward to the chance for an invite to Augusta!

CSGA: What is your game plan for the tournament?

Tommy: My game plan is to stay patient in stroke play and see what conditions give me. In match play my plan is to put myself in as many scoring positions as possible and dominate.

CSGA: The tournament is uniquely being played on Nantucket. How do you plan to travel to the event? What does your lodging look like?

Tommy: I am flying up, renting a car, and staying at a family friend's place. I have had lots of people who reached out and offered to help and I was very appreciative.

CSGA: How will past U.S. Mid-Amateur experiences help you this week?

Tommy: Experience always helps. I certainly feel more comfortable competing on a bigger stage and I am actually looking forward to the competition now that I work a full-time job.

About the Connecticut State Golf Association

The Connecticut State Golf Association 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.

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About the CSGA

Founded in 1899, the CSGA is the country's oldest state golf association and, as an Allied Golf Association of the USGA, provides stewardship for amateur golf in Connecticut. In addition to administering handicaps for over 40,000 members at 181 member clubs, the CSGA conducts more than 85 days of competition throughout the year for golfers of all ages, genders, and skill levels. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the CSGA supports a variety of golf organizations within Connecticut, including the Connecticut Association of Golf Course Superintendents, Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, Connecticut Section PGA, Connecticut Women’s Golf Association, CSGA Scholarship Fund in honor of Widdy Neale, LPGA-Amateur Golf Association, Southern New England Women’s Golf Association, and The First Tee of Connecticut.