Waterbury, Connecticut (May 16, 2023) – There is a moment in every sporting event where the victor must rise to the occasion. For Anthony Guerrera, that moment came when he stepped onto the tee of the 180-yard par-3 12th in the final round of the 20th Russell C. Palmer Cup presented by Chris Cote’s Golf Shop.
Minutes before Guerrera (Watertown GC) climbed up the hill to the elevated tee box Ben Carpenter (CC of Darien), the 2022 Connecticut Amateur champion, playing in the group ahead birdied the hole and unleashed a fist pump as he moved within one stroke of the lead. However, Guerrera, who didn’t look at a scoreboard all day including during a brief break in between the second and final rounds on the 36-hole final day at the Country Club of Waterbury was unfazed.
Following a brief discussion with his caddie Guerrera selected an 8 iron and after going through his pre-shot routine launched a towering shot high into the brilliantly blue sky. As Guerrera and the crowd of supporters watched someone yelled, “be good.” It was. The ball settled six feet past the pin.
Now presented the opportunity to take control of the tournament the 24-year-old graduate of Watertown High School and Post University rolled in the birdie putt to return to 2-under and restore his lead to two shots.
Guerrera did bogey the long and difficult 234-yard par-3 14th after leaving his tee shot in the bunker short right of the green but Carpenter had dropped a shot on the same hole keeping the lead at two. Steady pars followed on Nos. 15 and 16 before the former CC of Waterbury member put the tournament away on the par-4 17th.
Following his best drive of the day Guerrera flipped a wedge from 60 yards out to 12 feet setting up his final birdie of the day and what proved to be the proverbial nail in the coffin. A short time later and with a large crowd gathered above the green on the par-4 closing hole Guerrera brushed in a par putt and clinched his first CSGA individual tournament title. Guerrera put together rounds of 67-68-70 to finish 2-under and as the three-stroke winner.
“This win means everything,” said Guerrera. “I have been competing in CSGA events the last five years so to be able to see the progression and finally break into the winner’s circle feels great.”
The breakthrough was thanks in large part to an increased dedication to his game. Last August he left his accounting job and began caddying at Bull’s Bridge Golf Club. With more time to play golf his game quickly improved. His improvement continued over the winter months after he moved to Florida and took a job working on the bag staff at Gulf Stream Golf Club in Delray Beach. Since returning to Connecticut his improvement has been on full display.
Guerrera, the winner of last week’s Two Man Championship, began the final round 3-under-par and as the leader by two shots over Carpenter but three bogeys in the first eight holes cracked the door open for a number of players. The most notable runs were made by Carpenter and Tommy Dallahan (Hartford GC).
With Guerrera moving backwards, Dallahan the rising UConn senior, jumped up the leaderboard with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 9 and 10 to reach 1-over and within one of Guerrera’s even-par lead. With a chance to continue applying pressure Dallahan faltered and ended up finishing 4-over and in third place. Dallahan has now finished in the top five in the Russell C. Palmer Cup each of the last two years.
Carpenter, a junior on the Yale golf team and one of four first round co-leaders, sustained his run deep into the final round but once his birdie putt missed on No. 16 his chances were all but dashed and he settled for a 1-over second place finish.
Guerrera began the 36-hole final day in a tie for the lead and despite a sputtering 2-over start he caught fire with three birdies in the final four holes of the second round to surge into the lead. Once in the lead alone Guerrera would never relinquish the lead again.
“Me and my caddie and hats off to him he kept me focused for a long 36-holes,” explained Guerrera. “It felt like we were out here from dusk to dawn. All we cared about was execution. Hitting our right spots and missing in the right the spots and giving ourselves the best look we can.”
About the Connecticut State Golf Association
The Russell C. Palmer Cup presented by Chris Cote’s Golf Shop is one of 20 championships conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association. The CSGA functions as an extension of the USGA and provides stewardship for amateur golf in Connecticut.