HARTFORD, Conn. – A couple of familiar names prevailed in the Tournament of Champions at Bull’s Bridge Golf Club in Kent.
Chris Fosdick, who captured the Connecticut State Golf Association Amateur Championship in a thrilling final with Cody Paladino, birdied the final hole to overtake Paladino again and win by a stroke with a bogey-free, 6-under-par 66.
Then Dave Szewczul, who has won every major men’s state amateur title, birdied the first playoff hole, the par-5 18th, to beat Frank Geiger in the Dick Siderowf (Senior) Division after each had shot 70. Szewczul, of TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, failed to get up-and-down on the same hole in regulation, giving Geiger of H. Smith Richardson GC in Fairfield a shot at the victory in overtime.
“I was solid tee to green, solid all day, but I missed that putt and one on 17 from about three-and-a half feet and one on 16,” Szewczul said.
Szewczul made up for the misses with an approach shot to 12 feet in the playoff by which time a two-putt sealed the win over Geiger, who was on in four after an errant drive.
“I played well, solid,” said Szewczul, who 14 of 18 greens in regulation. “I know that sounds boring, but that really describes it.”
Fosdick didn’t birdie the reachable par-5 first hole but quickly made up for it. He drove the 328-yard, par-4 second hole and two-putted from 40 feet, the first of five birdies in seven holes that led to a 5-under 31 on the front nine.
“I kind of went on a tear after the first,” said Fosdick, a sophomore at the University of Virginia. “Because it was a one-day tournament, I decided I needed to be aggressive from the start.”
Paladino had three birdies on the front nine but also made two bogeys and had to play catchup. He had a strong comeback with four birdies on the back side, including at the 18th hole, but came up a stroke short.
After five years playing on five tours on four continents and in 34 countries, Paladino decided to end his pro and became a reinstated amateur in March. The standout from Timberlin Golf Course in Berlin had a memorable year in the season of COVID-19, losing a 5-up lead to Fosdick and a playoff in the State Amateur in which each shot 9-under for 36 holes in regulation, tied for second with Fosdick in the Russell C. Palmer Cup and lost a playoff to Ben Conroy in the CSGA Mid-Amateur two weeks ago.
Though he lost over the weekend in the finals of the Wallingford Country Club club championship, 2002 was a breakthrough season for Fosdick.
“I drove the ball well today, that was key,” he said, crediting coach Tom Rosati at Great River Golf Club in Milford for a swing with better tempo and for a short game that is both improved and savvier.
Fosdick said his up-and-down on the final hole to win was a good example.
“I might have chipped that in the past, but that would have been much more unpredictable,” he said. “I decided to putt it up to the green and let it trickle down to the hole.”
Fosdick made a curling, 41/2-foot putt to win the Dick Tettelbach (under 55) division.
Defending champion Peter Tomlinson made four consecutive birdies in a front-nine 31 but slipped to 38 on the back side and finished third. Glen Boggini of Manchester Country Club was fourth at 70.
In the Siderowf division, Szewzul finished one stroke ahead of Ralph Giansanti of the Country Club of Farmington and longtime friend and two-ball partner Bill Hermanson of the Black Hall Club in Old Lyme, who missed a short birdie putt at the 17th hole and then failed to get up-and-down from the left side of the 18th green. Rick Malafronte of Indian Hill Country Club in Newington and Richard Stevens of the eClub of Connecticut tied for fifth at 72.
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