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Storylines from the 14th Russell C. Palmer Cup

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Ninety-six of Connecticut’s best amateur golfers will begin play on Monday at the Country Club of Waterbury in hopes of capturing the 14th Russell C. Palmer Cup. Named for Russell C. Palmer, former CSGA Executive Director (1986-1995) and inductee into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame (1997), the Palmer Cup is the Connecticut Stroke Play Championship.

Last Year’s Championship: The 2016 Russell C. Palmer Cup was marked by a wire-to-wire victory for Zach Zaback of TPC River Highlands. After an opening round of 66, Zaback never looked back, shooting rounds of 74-67 on day two for a three round total of even-par 207 and a six stroke victory. Zaback would go on to win the Connecticut Amateur Championship and his second CSGA Player of the Year title.

About the Course: The 2017 Russell C. Palmer Cup will mark the ninth time that the Country Club of Waterbury has hosted the event. In addition to hosting the Palmer Cup, the CC of Waterbury has also hosted ten Connecticut Amateur Championships and the 2005 Connecticut Open Championship. The club was originally founded in 1899 and the present Championship course was designed and completed in 1929 by renowned architect Donald Ross.

The Trophy: The winner of the Championship will have their name engraved on the permanent Russell C. Palmer Cup Quaich. The Scottish Quaich, from which this trophy is derived, is a special kind of shallow two-handled drinking cup that traces back to the 17th century.

There are a total of 96 players in the field competing for the 14th Russell C. Palmer Cup, of which 65 players earned their way in by qualifying and 33 players were exempt via the Exemption Criteria.

In the history of the Russell C. Palmer Cup, no player has successfully defended their title the following year. That statistic won’t be broken this year, as 2016 Champion Zach Zaback turned professional this winter. Zaback is currently competing on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

Of the 96 players in the field, only 5 have also captured the Connecticut Amateur Championship, which is contested over Match Play. They are:

– Evan Grenus, TPC River Highlands – 2015 Champion (Black Hall Club)

Tim Kane, New Haven Country Club – 2005 Champion (New Haven CC)

– Brian Ahern, Wampanoag Country Club – 1999 Champion (CC of Waterbury)

– Bill Hermanson, Black Hall Club – 1991 Champion (Patterson Club)

– Dave Szewczul, Tunxis Plantation Country Club – 1978 Champion (Brooklawn CC)

Only three players have won both the Russell C. Palmer Cup and the Connecticut Amateur Championship – Zach Zaback (2016), Cody Paladino (2013) and Mark Farrell (2004 / 2001). All three players have since turned professional.

Benjamin Day of New Haven Country Club and Philip Perry of Black Hall Club are the lone past Palmer Cup Champions in the field, and both will look to become the first player to win multiple Palmer Cup titles. Perry won his title in 2008 and Day won his title in 2015, both at the Country Club of Waterbury. 

Matt Doyle, 14, of Madison Country Club is the youngest player in the Russell C. Palmer Cup field. Doyle, a 2021 high school graduate earned his spot by successfully qualifying at Wallingford Country Club and will be competing in his first Palmer Cup.

Bruce Kraczkowsky of Blue Fox Run Golf Course earned his first piece of CSGA hardware by winning the Senior Match Play Championship last year at Hop Meadow Country Club. Kraczkowsky knocked off perennial favorites Bill Hermanson and Dave Szewczul, as well as qualifying medalist Scott Newman, en-route to his title.

Monte Mullen of TPC River Highlands will be seeking to capture his second CSGA title at the Palmer Cup this year, having previously won the Connecticut Junior Amateur in 2010. Mullen, who worked for the CSGA as the USGA P.J. Boatwright Intern last summer, lost in a playoff for the Palmer Cup title to Blake Morris in 2014. 

Andrew Franz of Ridgefield Golf Course enters the field as the reigning Connecticut Junior Amateur Champion. Franz stormed back from three down with three holes to play against Matt Bornstein in the 18-hole final, squaring the match with a birdie on the 18th hole and eventually winning on the second playoff hole.

Chandler Morris of the Country Club of Waterbury will be seeking to capture his first CSGA championship when he begins play Monday on his home course. Chandler is a rising sophomore at the University of Connecticut where he plays on their Division I collegiate golf team. His older brother, Blake, became the first player in tournament history to win the event on their home course when he captured the title in 2014.

Father & Son Duo: James Harrington and his son, Nicklaus Harrington, both play out of the Windham Club and are competing in this year’s Palmer Cup championship. Nicklaus won the 90th Norwich Invitational last summer and played in the final group of the 2015 Connecticut Open Championship.

Family Ties: Ed Day (Wallingford CC) and Benjamin Day (New Haven CC) are the lone pair of brothers in the field, and Ed will look to follow in his younger brother’s footsteps when he begins play on Tuesday. Ben won the Palmer Cup in 2015 by charging up the leaderboard from eight strokes back on the final day to win in a playoff over John Flaherty.

Kyle Nolin is seeking to win his second CSGA major championship in as many years, having captured the Connecticut Public Links Championship last summer. Nolin is an expert club fitter at Chris Cote’s Golf Shop, which sponsors the CSGA’s One Day Tournament Series.

Evan Grenus of TPC River Highlands won the 2015 Connecticut Amateur title, and became the first former Junior Amateur Champion to go on to win the Amateur since Kevin Gai of Indian Hill CC (1983 Junior Amateur and 1996 Amateur Champion). He also became just the second player to win the Junior Amateur and Amateur titles in consecutive years, equaling Dick Siderowf’s feat from 1954-55. Grenus, who is paired with 1999 Connecticut Amateur Champion Brian Ahern in the first round, is a rising junior at Wofford College.

Dave Szewczul of Tunxis Plantation Country Club, a 2010 inductee into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame, capped off his 2016 season with victories in both the Connecticut Mid-Amateur and Connecticut Senior Amateur Championships en-route to his seventh Senior Player of the Year title. Szewczul has etched his name on every CSGA amateur championship except the Russell C. Palmer Cup, a streak he hopes will end this week.

All 14 members of the 2017 Julius Boros Challenge Cup Team are playing. They are: 

Brian Ahern, Wampanoag Country Club
Brent Dietz, Cedar Knob Golf Course
Steve Gettings, Orange Hills Country Club
David Giulietti, Golf Club of Avon
Bill Hermanson, Black Hall Club
Chet Hrostek, Golf Club at Oxford Greens
Jason Jaworoski, Shorehaven Golf Club
Kevin Josephson, Indian Hill Country Club
Chris Maxwell, Country Club of Farmington
Monte Mullen, TPC River Highlands
Kyle Nolin, Tallwood Country Club
John Sawka, Ellington Ridge Country Club
Shep Stevens, New Haven Country Club
Dave Szewczul, Tunxis Plantation Country Club


Additionally, 4 of the 7 members of the 2016 New England Junior Team are competing in this year’s Palmer Cup. They are:

Finn Boynton, Great River Golf Club
Andrew Franz, Ridgefield Golf Course
Connor Looney, Ridgefield Golf Course
Arthur Ouimet, Eclub of Connecticut

Schedule of Events

Monday, May 22nd – Round 1 of stroke play. Cut to the low 39 scores (including ties).

Tuesday, May 23rd – Rounds 2 and 3 of stroke play. The players with the lowest cumulative total will be declared Champion .In the event of a tie for the championship, there will be a hole by hole playoff immediately following the conclusion of all rounds beginning on hole 18.

Eligibility: Amateur competitors for this year’s championship must have an active USGA handicap at a CSGA member club not exceeding 6.4.

Social Media:

In addition to full championship coverage on our website at csgalinks.org and CTPalmerCup.com, players and spectators can join the conversation using the hashtag #CTPalmerCup.

– Like Us on Facebook at Facebook.com/CSGALinks

– Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @CSGALinks

– Championship Photos on our Flickr page – Flickr.com/csgalinks