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Memorable Winners Highlight Connecticut Amateur History at Torrington CC

J.J. Henry celebrates his victory in 1994 at Torrington Country Club (Hartford Courant Photo).

(February 22, 2024) – For the third time in tournament history the Connecticut Amateur presented by Middlesex Health will be contested at Torrington Country Club. The 122nd version of the Connecticut Amateur will be held from June 10-14.

Torrington CC previously hosted the Connecticut Amateur in 1994 when J.J. Henry captured the title and again in 2006 when Tommy McDonagh emerged victorious.

The 1994 final saw first-time Connecticut Amateur contestants J.J. Henry and Christian Chernock square off. Following the first 18 holes, Henry held a 1-up lead that he quickly extended to 2 up with a birdie on the opening hole of the second round.

However, Chernock an All-American for SMU, would have answers and after a brilliant bunker shot set up a birdie on No. 5, the match was tied.

Unfazed by seeing his lead disappear, Henry, just 17 years old, responded by winning No. 6 to take a lead he would never relinquish. He then extended his lead to 2 up by the turn with a remarkable hole-out birdie from a greenside bunker on No. 9.

After another victory on No. 10, Henry put the final nail in the coffin one hole later. Leading 3 up Henry stuffed an 8 iron to two feet on the 183-yard par-3 11th that resulted in a birdie and a 4 up advantage. Henry would soon go on to close out a 4&3 triumph.

In addition to winning one thing that stood out for Henry from the week was having his dad Ron on the bag, “I think it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” said Henry who used to caddie for his father when he was younger. “Without him I don’t think I could’ve won. He was telling me what to think out there. We were really a team.”

Following his victory in 1994 Henry would win two more Connecticut Amateur titles emerging victorious in 1995 and 1998 before moving on to the PGA Tour where he won three times and was a member of the 2006 Ryder Cup team.

The 2006 Connecticut Amateur final was a dramatic sudden death battle between a pair of 17-year-old high school seniors in Cody Paladino and Tommy McDonagh.

Paladino came out of the gates firing on all cylinders and held a 4-up lead after the first round. That momentum didn’t carry over to the second round as McDonagh birdied five of the first 10 holes to flip the match and take a 2-up lead. Remarkably he only needed 11 putts through the first eight holes of the second round.

Despite relenting his lead Paladino wouldn’t go away and by the time play reached the 36th hole the match was tied. Putting first for birdie from 45 feet away on the closing hole Paladino looked to have won the title when he poured the putt in and unleashed a fist pump. But the flat stick that McDonagh had rode all afternoon came up big once again as he converted a 16-foot birdie putt of his own to send the match to extra holes.

It wasn’t until the third extra hole, the 39th hole of the match, that McDonagh was able to roll in a short par putt and put Paladino away.

“I was shaking McDonagh,” said of his final putt. “I said, ‘Tommy, you’ve made this putt 1,000 times.”

Editors Note: Photos and information for this article were provided by the Hartford Courant.

About the Connecticut State Golf Association

The Connecticut Amateur 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. Founded in 1899, it is the country’s oldest state golf association and conducts over 60 Championships, Qualifiers, and One Day Tournaments throughout the year.