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Anthony Guerrera Set to Defend Russell C. Palmer Cup Title

The Country Club of Waterbury will host the Russell C. Palmer Cup for the 14th time.

(May 13, 2024) – One year ago Anthony Guerrera capped off a torrid month of May with the biggest victory of his career at the Russell C. Palmer Cup presented by Chris Cote’s Golf Shop. Fast forward one year and Guerrera will be seeking to become the first player to defend a Russell C. Palmer Cup title. If he does accomplish the feat he will have to outduel a field of 106 players that includes six past champions.

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“Winning the Russell C. Palmer Cup last year was a huge confidence boost for me,” Anthony Guerrera said. “It helped me realize that my game is trending in the right direction and that I am good enough to compete with some of the best college and mid-amateur players in the state.”

This year the 21st Russell C. Palmer Cup will return to the Country Club of Waterbury for the 14th time in the history of the event.

The 6,550-yard Donald Ross designed par-69 layout with just one par-5 will be a challenge from tee to green throughout each round but there may be no bigger challenge than navigating the course’s variable par-3s. None could be more demanding than the 234-yard par-3 14th hole. The hole comes at a crucial point in the round and requires a precise tee shot. If a player misses the green getting up and down to save par will be difficult.

Following the 14th there is no let-up on the way into the clubhouse as the field will face four par-4s, including two of the most demanding of the course. Players will need to display diverse shot-making as they make their way through the final stretch of the course.

“Experience will play a critical role in the successes of those who play well,” head professional Brad Lusenhop said. “The CC of Waterbury is an extremely difficult venue featuring intricate green complexes, dramatic elevation changes, and slick putting surfaces that will have to be negotiated by the eventual winner.”

Last year Guerrera, a member of the Bull’s Bridge Golf Club bag staff during the summer, utilized his experience on the challenging layout to pull away late in the final round as he finished 2 under and earned a three-shot victory. The former Post University standout will look to use his familiarity with the course to his advantage once again in 2024.

“I know the course very well from being able to play a lot on it growing up and throughout college,” explained Guerrera who spends his winters playing golf and working on the bag staff at the Gulf Stream Golf Club in Florida. “I am going to try to prioritize hitting fairways and greens and making sure that I am missing on the correct side of all pin locations. The CC of Waterbury offers a variety of shot shape opportunities and that definitely feeds into my style of play. Speed management on the greens will also be key to putting myself into contention come the back nine on the final day.”

Play at the 21st Russell C. Palmer will begin on Monday, May 20 at 7:30 a.m. Following the first round, the field will be cut to the top-39 and ties for the 36-hole final day.

Notes on the Field:

Number of Players: 106

Past Champions (6): Anthony Guerrera (2023), Cody Paladino (2013, 2022), Rick Dowling (2020), Rick Hayes (2019), Ben Day (2015), Tom McCarthy (2009)

Players to Watch:

Ben Day (New Haven CC): The 2015 Russell C. Palmer Cup winner nearly won the title for a second time in 2020 only to fall a little short. Last year Day reached the Round of 16 at the Connecticut Amateur and finished in seventh place at the Connecticut Mid-Amateur.

Rick Dowling (Golf Performance Center): The 2020 Russell C. Palmer Cup winner had another impressive year in 2023 winning both the Connecticut Amateur and Connecticut Mid-Amateur. Just days after the Russell C. Palmer Cup concludes Dowling will be competing in the 9th U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.

Connor Goode (Glastonbury Hills CC): Fresh off a successful second year at UConn, Goode will be looking to build off his strong play at last year’s Russell C. Palmer Cup when he held the lead early before finishing T7. Goode, who will play in U.S. Open Final Qualifying next month, reached the Round of 16 at the Connecticut Amateur in 2023.

Will Gregware (Farmington Woods GC): The 2023 Connecticut Junior Amateur winner is committed to the University of Maryland and will begin his college career this fall. Last summer Gregware reached match play at the Connecticut Amateur.

Anthony Guerrera (Watertown GC): The defending champion also won the Two Man Championship and the Tettelbach Division at the Tournament of Champions last year.

Will Lodge (CC of Darien): A key member of the Yale golf team that won the Ivy League Championship and competed in the NCAA Tournament, Lodge won the 2022 Connecticut Junior Amateur and last year he finished T7 at the Russell C. Palmer Cup.

Cody Paladino (Hartford GC): Two-time champion Cody Paladino is always a threat to win anytime he competes. In 2023 Paladino was the runner-up at the Connecticut Amateur and Connecticut Mid-Amateur while also earning low amateur honors at the Connecticut Open. On the national stage he competed in both the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur.

Bradley Sawka (Ellington Ridge GC): The first round co-leader from a year ago recently completed a successful freshman year at UConn. Sawka played in nine events and after amassing the best scoring average in the Big East amongst freshmen he earned Big East Freshman of the Year honors to go along with All-Big East Second Team accolades.

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.