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.