Rick Dowling (Connecticut Golf Association photo)
With four holes remaining in the 35th Connecticut Mid-Amateur at the Country Club of New Canaan, Rick Dowling
and Cody Paladino
were in a dead heat. Dowling had held a narrow lead all day long over Paladino but with a birdie on the par-5 11th the two-time reigning Dick Tettelbach Player of the Year finally tracked down Dowling. The two remained tied at 6-under until the par-4 15th.
Dowling split the fairway with his drive and was left with just 106 yards into the green. Meanwhile, Paladino found the left side fairway bunker and faced with an awkward stance could only lay up. Paladino found the green with his third shot but he was still outside of Dowling who knocked his second shot to 8 feet. In a blink, the key moment of the tournament had presented itself.
Paladino putted first for par but the putt slid by resulting in a bogey that dropped the 2022 Russell C. Palmer Cup winner to 5-under. Moments later and after receiving a read from Ben Day, the third member of the group, Dowling stepped into his birdie putt and rolled it in. Dowling, the first-round leader, was now 7-under and ahead by two with three holes to play.
After regaining the lead Dowling, “tried to keep the peddle down,” and he did just that. On the 555-yard par-5 16th Dowling laid up with his second shot leaving himself 120 yards to the pin. With a great angle into the green Dowling sent his pitching wedge soaring through the air and watched as it danced around the hole coming to rest a foot away. The result was a tap-in birdie that moved Dowling to 8-under and the lead by three.
On the ensuing hole, the downhill 343-yard par-4 17th, Dowling again found the center of the fairway and was once again in a prime position to attack the pin. Selecting a sand wedge from 87 yards out Dowling sent another brilliant wedge shot towards the pin. When the ball came to rest he had just 5 feet left for another birdie. A short time later when Dowling brushed in the putt he was suddenly 9-under and the owner of a four-shot advantage with one hole to play.
“My mentality down the stretch was finish strong and stay aggressive,” said Dowling, the general manager at Junior Golf Hub. “If you put yourself in a good position on this course you will have a lot of wedges and I just happened to hit a handful of good ones coming in and converted the putts.”
Now in command Dowling was able to enjoy the final hole and when he two-putted for par in front of a large crowd of family, friends, and fellow competitors he had earned his second consecutive Connecticut Mid-Amateur title. With the wire-to-wire victory, Dowling became the first repeat winner since 2005-2006 when Jeff Hedden accomplished the feat.
“It feels great to defend my title,” Dowling said. “I will always remember coming down the stretch with Cody [Paladino] and Ben [Day] and playing the last five holes the way I did. Then to win at the CC of New Canaan knowing [head professional] Adam Rainaud pretty well, it is cool to win a tournament on his course.”
Following a bogey-free 5-under 65 in the first round, Dowling began the final day with a three shot advantage over Paladino (Hartford GC), 2019 Connecticut Mid-Amateur winner Ben Day (New Haven CC), and Steven Ferraro (Quinnatisset CC). Shortly after the second round began it quickly became clear that the winner was going to come out of the final group which included Dowling, Paladino, and Day.
Throughout the second and third rounds both Paladino and Day made charges at Dowling but every time they moved within striking distance Dowling had an answer. In the end, Dowling finished 9-under thanks to rounds of 65-68-68 and five shots clear of Paladino (-4), the runner-up for a second straight year.
Ferraro hung tough throughout the day finishing in third place at 2-under, Day at 1-under and in fourth place was the only other player to finish under-par while Dan Gallo (Mill River CC) finished even-par to round out the top-five.View results for Connecticut Mid-Amateur
ABOUT THE Connecticut Mid-Amateur
54-hole stroke play championship. Players must hold
active USGA Handicap Index at a CSGA club not
exceeding 6.4, and be at least 25 years of age.
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