MILFORD, Connecticut – Standing on the 18th tee Cody Paladino (Wampanoag CC, CT) needed a par to win the 92nd New England Amateur Championship at Great River GC. Two perfect shots on the par 4 closer left him just 14 feet to negotiate. After just missing his birdie, he knocked home the winning par put from just outside a foot.
Following the winning put was an outpour of emotion from Paladino who immediately embraced his swing coach Tom Rosati. Brought to tears by his victory, Paladino then hugged his mother while getting cheers of support from the crowd surrounding the 18th hole.
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When asked about what this win means, Paladino said “When you hear people win a big event they say, ‘You know I can't really put it into words.’ That is probably the best way to summarize how I feel.”
Having his fair share of close calls over the past two years added to the jubilation he felt on the 18th green “I can't even count how many second-place finishes and I think I'm up to four or five six second place finishes. So, you know, it just, it's amazing to finally have a victory.”
While he made it look easy, Paladino’s triumph came with a few charges from others in the field. Through 5 holes, the top of the leaderboard was bunched with Paladino and Xavier Marcoux (Nashawtuc CC, MA) at -8 and Jack Brown (Nashua CC, NH) at -7. By making par on holes 6-9, Paladino was able to separate himself from the group of leaders. Thanks to a few bogeys by the others, Paladino held a two-stroke lead heading to the back.
On the back, Paladino continued his steady play while Caleb Manuel (Brunswick GC, ME) and Owen Quinn (Worcester CC, MA) kept themselves in the hunt by playing even-par golf over the first 10 holes. But it was Manuel that made the made the strongest charge on Paladino. Manuel’s charge started on 13, where he made birdie and carried the momentum to 15 where he poured in another.
The real excitement came on the 17th hole, which is a reachable par 5 for everyone in the field. After his tee shot found the fairway, Manuel delivered a beautifully flighted iron shot that landed just short of the green and ran up to 7 feet. He then jarred the eagle putt to get to -9 for the Championship.
“I knew I had to go for it on 17 but I wasn't in the best position. I just kind of ran it down there and that's what the shot called for.” Said Manuel. “And when I heard it was 5 to 10 feet I was like, ‘oh wow’ I didn't even know I was putting. Then to make that putt was pretty big.” A closing par on 18 left Manuel just one shot short of a playoff.
Jack Brown (Nashua CC, NH) was one of Paladino’s closest competitors throughout the day. A bogey on 14 took him out of contention for the title, but back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18 got him to -8 for the Championship and into solo 3rd. He and Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC, MA) joined Paladino as the only players to break par in all 3 rounds of the Championship.
Nicholas Waddington (Manchester CC, RI) posted an impressive 66 on Thursday. He started his day with nine straight pars before getting circle-happy on the back 9. He made 4 birdies and an eagle to shoot a 6-under 30 and get to -2 for the Championship. Waddington finished the Championship T6.
1 – Cody Paladino: Wampanoag CC (CT) (-10) 66-71-69
2 – Caleb Manuel: Brunswick GC (ME) (-9) 72-67-68
3 – Jack Brown: Nashua CC (NH) (-8) 70-68-70
4 – Matt Parziale: Thorny Lea GC (MA) (-6) 70-69-71
5 – Owen Quinn: Worcester CC (CT) (-4) 66-73-73
T6 – Nicholas Waddington: Manchester CC (CT) (-2) 71-77-66
T6 – Xavier Marcoux: Nashawtuc CC (MA) (-2) 69-67-78
Top Players From Each State
Connecticut: Cody Paladino -10
Maine: Caleb Manuel -9
Massachusetts: Matt Parziale -6
New Hampshire: Jack Brown -8
Rhode Island: Bobby Leopold +1
Vermont: Jared Nelson E
Next Up For The NEGA
The New England Golf Association has two more Championships to be played in 2021, the New England Junior Amateur and the New England Senior Amateur. The Junior Amateur will be contested at Val Halla Golf Course in Cumberland, Maine from August 15-17. And the Senior Amateur will be hosted at Manchester Country Club in Manchester, Vermont from September 14-15.
Looking ahead to next season, the New England Amateur will head to Rhode Island. Alpine Country Club (Cranston, RI) will play host to the best players in New England for the 93rd New England Amateur. Next week Alpine CC will host the Rhode Island Stroke Play Championship.
MILFORD, Connecticut – Heading into the final round of the 92nd New England Amateur Championship, it’s a former champion that holds the solo lead. Xavier Marcoux (Nashawtuc CC, MA) followed up his opening round 69 with a 67 on Wednesday at Great River GC. Those two rounds have him at (-8) and in the lead by one.
One shot back of Marcoux is Cody Paladino (Wampanoag CC, CT) who is at (-7) and enjoying a home game this week. Paladino was the only player from Tuesday’s trio of leaders to break par once again on Wednesday.
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Marcoux’s 67 was topped by no one on Wednesday, and it was a steady diet of greens in regulation that helped him get there. “I have been just keeping my head down and taking it one shot at a time. My putting has been a key for me. But I have been hitting my irons really well, which has given me a lot of good looks at birdie.”
After his round, Paladino talked about his level of comfort playing in Connecticut this week. “My instructor, Tom Rosati, is the Director of golf here at Great River GC, so I am down here all the time. I play the course once in a while, but there is definitely a comfortability factor for me here.”
As is often the case in the New England, afternoon thunderstorms halted play on Wednesday. The horn blew at 1:25 p.m., but before it did two of the three overnight leaders had completed their rounds. Owen Quinn (Worcester CC, MA) started his round with a birdie on 1, but was tripped up in the middle of his round. He was able to steady the ship with a timely birdie on 17 to get him back to (-5) and squarely in the mix.
Bobby Leopold (Wannamoisett CC, RI) played his second round in a very similar fashion to Quinn. He made an early birdie but caught the bogey-bug through the middle of his round, dropping to 3-under. Like Quinn, he made birdie for the second straight day on the par-5, 17th hole. A closing par on 18 got Leopold into the clubhouse at 4-under, which has him in the mix heading into the final round.
Also completing his round before the suspension of play was Anthony Burnham (Purpoodock GC, ME). Burnham made the biggest jump among the players that finished their round before the horn blew. His 69, which featured 4 birdies and just 1 bogey, helped him climb up the leaderboard, and in a position to make a run for the title in the final round.
Play resumed at 3:12 p.m. after a 1 hour and 47 minute suspension of play. Jack Brown (Nashua CC, NH) and Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC, MA) had no trouble with the break in action. Brown finished the day birdieing two of his last five holes to shoot 68 to get to (-6) for the Championship. Parziale shot 69, making an eagle and a birdie in his closing stretch to get to (-5) and just 3 shots back of the lead.
Caleb Manuel (Brunswick GC, ME) finished off his fantastic round just before darkness. After shooting even-par on Tuesday, Manuel poured in the birdies on Wednesday, leading to a 5-under par 67. That was good enough to get Manuel up to T4 alongside Brown and Parziale.
Leaderboard After Round 2*
1 – Xavier Marcoux: Nashawtuc CC (MA) (-8) 69-67
2 – Cody Paladino: Wampanoag CC (CT) (-7) 66-71
3 – Jack Brown: Nashua CC (NH) (-6) 70-68
T4 – Owen Quinn: Worcester CC (MA) (-5) 66-73
T4 – Matt Parziale: Thorny Lea GC (MA) (-5) 70-69
T4 – Caleb Manuel: Brunswick GC (ME) (-5) 72-67
7 – Bobby Leopold: Wannamoisett CC (RI) (-4) 66-74
T8 – Matt Camel: Round Hill Club (CT) (-3) 69-72
T8 – Cameron Sheedy: Vesper CC (MA) (-3) 74-67
T10 – Joseph Harney: Charles River CC (MA) (-2) 72-70
T10 – Mike Kennedy: New Haven CC (CT) (-2) 71-71
T10 – Anthony Burnham: Purpoodock GC (ME) (-2) 73-69
*Play suspended due to darkness; not all competitors have completed round 2
With a few players still to finish round 2, play will resume on Thursday at 7 a.m. Round 3 will begin at 7:30 a.m. with competitors playing in twosomes. The final group of Marcoux and Paladino will tee off at 11:54 a.m. A trophy presentation will take place immediately following the completion of play.
Top Players From Each State
Connecticut: Cody Paladino (Wampanoag CC) -7
Maine: Caleb Manuel (Brunswick GC) -5
Massachusetts: Xavier Marcoux (Nashawtuc CC) -8
New Hampshire: Jack Brown (Nashua CC) -6
Rhode Island: Bobby Leopold (Wannamoisett CC), -4
Vermont: Jared Nelson (Rutland CC) +1
About The Venue
Great River Golf Club is situated on the banks of the Housatonic River in Milford, Connecticut. The course was designed by Architect Tommy Fazio and boasts several Golf Course Accolades from top publications like Golf Digest and Golfweek. The course features a parkland-style front 9 and a links-designed back 9, with water coming into play on each hole.
This is the first time the New England Amateur Championship has been contested at Great River GC, but it’s hosted its share of premiere events like U.S. Open Qualifying and U.S. Amateur Qualifying. The last 5 New England Amateur Championships held in the Nutmeg State were at: Hartford GC (2016), The Course at Yale (2010), Race Brook CC (2004), New Haven CC (1998), and Woodbridge CC (1990).
MILFORD, Connecticut – The 92nd New England Amateur Championship saw 142 players tee it up in Tuesday’s opening round. Three of those players, all representing different states across New England, signed for a 6-under 66 to grab a share of the early lead at Great River GC (CT).
Owen Quinn (Worcester CC, MA), Bobby Leopold (Wannamoisett CC, RI) and Cody Paladino (Wampanoag CC, CT) shot 6-under-par, and did so in a variety of ways.
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Quinn was the first in the clubhouse at (-6). Starting on the 10th hole on Tuesday, Quinn got off to a smooth start, but really got hot in the middle of his round. Three straight birdies on holes 17, 18 and 1 got him to (-5). He added another birdie on the par-5 6th, to get it to (-6), before the 7th hole, which played as the most difficult on the course, dealt Quinn his only bogey of the day. A timely bounce-back birdie on 8 got him back to (-6), where he would finish his round.
After winning the Rhode Island Amateur Championship on Sunday, it was no surprise to see Bobby Leopold in good form. During the Rhode Island Am last week, Leopold credited his ball striking as the key to his victory. Tuesday was no different “I started on 10, and hit an okay shot, thought maybe I was a little tired. But then I really started to hit the ball well. I gave myself chances the whole time. It’s a quirky golf course, you’ve got to plot yourself around, and hit the right shot. Sometimes it takes driver out of your hand because it’s better being in the fairway.”
Leopold’s ball striking was evident on the scorecard as well. After making par on his opening hole of the day (the par-3 10th), Leopold proceeded to make birdie on every remaining par-3. And the game plan remains the same for tomorrow “Game plan is the same. I like the way I played it today. I like what I chose to hit off the tee. Get to the fat parts of the green.”
Cody Paladino was the third player to post 66 on Tuesday. The symmetry in scoring was a writer’s dream. His bogey-free round featured birdies, in order, on a par-5, then a par-4, then a par-3. It worked so well, he did it again. His final 3 birdies, which were made over 3-straight holes, again came on a par-5, then a par-4, then a par-3. Paladino is no stranger to the top of the New England Amateur Leaderboard. Last year, he was T6 after the opening round and finished T11.
Connecticut Players Dominate Morning Play
Morning play saw 8 players break par, with 7 of them hailing from Connecticut. The trio of Chris Ayers (Goodwin GC, CT), Matt Camel (Round Hill Club, CT), and Austin Cilley (Lake of Isles GC, CT) all shot matching 69’s to share the early lead at -3.
Ayers had the cleanest of cards among the three morning players at 3-under. His double-bogey on 5 was the only blemish. But his dominance of the par-5’s was the real story of his round. He made birdie on every par 5 at Great River GC - holes 3, 6, 13, and 17.
Ayers, who will be playing his Graduate Year at the University of West Florida, played the first of the Par-5’s as a 3-shot hole, hitting a wedge to kick-in range. He then leaned on some big drives to birdie the rest. “The rest of them I got there in two, or at least on the fringe in two. I took care of business today on the par 5’s. I drove it very accurate and long, which obviously helps a lot on the par 5’s.”
Having never seen the course before, Ayers was very pleased with his round. In looking ahead to tomorrow, the only change to the game plan will be on hole number 4. “Number 4 was very difficult. Tomorrow I will be more aggressive off the tee. Today I left myself too far back, but tomorrow, I’ll try to leave myself a better number in.”
Matt Camel made an early bogey on the par-5, 3rd hole, but then played his next ten holes at 4-under par. His eagle on 17 helped erase bogies on 14 and 18. Austin Cilley started his round on hole 10, and like Camel, used an eagle on 17 to erase bogeys on 14 and 18. Cilley closed strong with birdies on 6 and 9 to finish the day.
The other five players to break par all shot a 1-under-par 71. Four of those five players hail from Connecticut, with the only non-Connecticut player in the group being Max Ferrari (Framingham CC, MA).
Leaderboard After Round 1
T1 – Owen Quinn: Worcester CC (MA) (-6) 66
T1 – Bobby Leopold: Wannamoisett CC (RI) (-6) 66
T1 – Cody Paladino: CC of Farmington (CT) (-6) 66
T4 – Matt Camel: Round Hill Club (CT) (-3) 69
T4 – Austin Cilley: Lake of Isles GC (CT) (-3) 69
T4 – Chris Ayers: Goodwin GC (CT) (-3) 69
T4 – Xavier Marcoux: Nashawtuc CC (MA) (-3) 69
T8 – Ben Kelly: Blue Hill CC (MA) (-2) 70
T8 – Jack Brown: Nashua CC (NH) (-2) 70
T8 – Matt Parziale: Thorny Lea GC (MA) (-2) 70
Round 2 is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. off both the 1st and 10th tee on Wednesday. Following Round 2, the field will be cut to top-60 and ties. The Final Round is scheduled to take place Thursday.
About the New England Amateur Championship
New for 2021, the New England Amateur will be contested as a 54-hole Championship, with 18 holes played on each day of the competition. The field will be cut to the low 60 players and ties after 36 holes. Previously the event was a 72-hole Championship with 36-holes being played on the third and final day.
This year, qualifying took place in June at four different venues: Indian Pond CC (MA), Haverhill CC (MA), Battleboro CC (VT), and Tunxis CC (CT). Medalists (and Co-Medalists) of the qualifiers:
In 2020, John Broderick (Dedham C&PC, MA) won the rain-shortened event in a playoff over Nick Maccario (Bradford CC, MA) at Concord CC (MA). Xavier Marcoux, who recently qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship, won the event in 2019 at The Quechee Club (VT). The last time the New England Amateur was held in Connecticut was in 2016 at Harford GC. That year James Turner (Bass Rocks GC, MA) ran away with the title, winning by 5 strokes.