WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – In a rematch that lived up to the billing Chris Fosdick defeated Cody Paladino to repeat as the Connecticut Amateur champion. In the 119th edition of the event Fosdick became the first player to successfully defend the title since Will Strickler went back-to-back in 2007 and 2008. It was also the first time since 1920 and 1921 that the same two competitors met in the final.
Just like last year the match went the distance. On the 36th hole Paladino missed the fairway in the right rough while Fosdick split the fairway. Blocked out by a tree and on a root Paladino’s approach barely held the green coming to rest 60 feet from the hole. Fosdick played next hitting a towering shot 30 feet past the flagstick.
Putting first Paladino hit a wonderful putt to inches for a tap-in par. With a large crowd surrounding the green it felt like the match was headed to extra holes. Fosdick however had other ideas. Roughly 24 hours after hitting a long birdie putt to send his semifinal match to a playoff he drilled the putt and erupted in celebration. For the second consecutive year Chris Fosdick was the Connecticut Amateur champion.
“There was this dark spot about the size of a cup probably two cups out right and I liked that line. I felt good about it,” said Fosdick who won the Russell C. Palmer Cup last month. “It was awesome to finish it like that. I felt really good about the putt even before I hit it.”
On a bright sunny day at Hartford Golf Club Fosdick jumped out to a quick start winning two of the first three holes with birdies during the morning round to take a 2 up lead and then added to the advantage with a victory on the par-4 fifth. Paladino won his first hole of the match with a par on the par-3 eighth only to bogey the ensuing hole allowing Fosdick to restore his lead to 3 up.
During the first nine holes Fosdick consistently gave himself looks at birdies often settling for par while Paladino struggled around the greens as he fell behind. Early on the second nine it was much of the same. Fosdick put his third shot close on the par-5 10th and rolled in the short birdie putt to extend his lead to 4 up. The lead would move to 5 up when the Virginia sophomore won the par-4 13th with a birdie.
“I felt good about the start,” Fosdick said. “Everyday here I start playing good out of the gates. In both the stroke play rounds and the morning matches I played like that to and felt pretty good.”
However, on No. 14 Fosdick went long with his second shot opening the door for Paladino to win the hole with a par. One hole later Paladino trickled in his first birdie putt of the day to pull within 3 down. The 17th was tied with pars as Fosdick stopped the bleeding for a moment. Playing the closing hole of the first round Paladino drilled one down the middle while Fosdick missed the fairway. Paladino came up short with his second shot but hit a perfect lag putt that resulted in a conceded par. Fosdick was left with a tester for a par that missed and with that it was the defending champion leading 2 up at the break.
“When I was 5 down I just kept thinking about Chris being 5 down last year,” said Paladino. “I went into the shack out by 13 after I lost the hole and I just didn’t have control of the ball like I had all week long and once I had a moment with myself I was able to start to play better.”
The afternoon eighteen began just like the morning with Fosdick winning the par-4 first, this time with a par moving his lead back to 3 up. The lead remained there until Fosdick pushed his second shot on the par-5 fifth out of bounds allowing Paladino to cautiously play for a par that won the hole. Paladino, the 2013 winner, was now 2 down with 13 holes to play. He moved one hole closer with a birdie to win the par-4 seventh and then a par on the par-3 eighth tied the match for the first time. For the second straight year a player had overcome a 5 down deficit in the title match.
On the par-4 ninth Paladino, who had made a number of clutch par saving putts throughout the match couldn’t convert as Fosdick regained a 1 up lead with a par. With the crowd swelling to roughly 200 hundred spectators Fosdick birdied the 10th moving his lead to 2 up with eight holes remaining.
As the match continued the level of play continued to elevate and by the time the players reached the par-4 12th it felt like the legendary duel the two had in 2020 at Shorehaven Golf Club where Fosdick won on the final hole. Needing to make a move Paladino stuffed his approach to the par-4 12th to a five feet and brushed in the birdie to move within 1 down. On the ensuing hole both players put on an exceptional display of iron play stiffing approach shots to three feet or less. Paladino was first to play knocking his second shot to inside the leather of the putter. Fosdick working quickly answering putting his shot to three feet. Paladino’s birdie was conceded while Fosdick converted his little more than a gimme. By now the crowd was fully engaged and locked in.
On the par-4 14th both players found the fairway. Fosdick missed the green just to the left with his approach, cracking the door for Paladino who safely played to the middle of the green. Paladino had a chance to win the hole with a birdie only come up a few spins short. Fosdick, facing a downhill eight-footer for par drilled it. Fosdick was 1 up with four to play. Pars tied the par-4 15th leaving just three holes for Paladino to make up the deficit. It would only take him one.
With the second shots from the fairway finding the green the 16th became a putting contest. Fosdick sent this long downhill birdie try racing by. Paladino nestled his to inches and he was in with par. Fosdick trying to maintain his lead watched as his putt lipped out. All tied with two holes remaining. Matching pars on the 17th moved the match to the 18th still tied.
“It is awesome to be able to win the Palmer Cup and then this, it is awesome. Winning back-to-back Connecticut Amateurs is awesome,” said Fosdick. “I know it doesn’t happen very often and to be able to put myself in that position and fighting all the way till the end it felt really good to clutch up at the end.”
story by Connecticut State Golf Association