WATERBURY, CONN. --- Led by rising senior John Flaherty (Glastonbury, Conn.), UConn golfers crowded the top of the final leaderboard at the 12th Russell C. Palmer Cup tournament, the state's unofficial amateur stroke play championship, conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association and held at the Country Club of Waterbury.
Repeating his performance of last year at the Palmer Cup, Flaherty again went into a sudden death playoff for the title before bowing to Ben Day out of New Haven Country Club on the first extra hole.
Chris Wiatr (Woodbury, Conn.), who just completed his senior season at UConn, and rising UConn senior Zach Zaback (Farmington, Conn.) , finished in a tie for third, just one stroke behind Flaherty and Day.
Mike Masso (Suffield, Conn.), who also just finished his senior season at UConn, finished in sixth place, two strokes back, while rising UConn senior Corey Birch (Ridgefield, Conn.) was tied for seventh, three strokes back, and rising UConn junior Eric Dietrich (Cheshire, Conn.) finished in a tie for ninth. Deadlocked for ninth with Dietrich was Brian Ahern, another former Husky golfer from the class of 1998.
In all, seven of the top 10 finishers had a direct tie to the UConn golf program.
Due to agronomic issues, all rounds were 17 holes, making the tourney a 51-hole, Par 69 event.
Flaherty (73-69-65=207), playing out of TPC River Highlands, fired a 4-under 65 in the final round to reach the top of the leaderboard. Playing with Day, Flaherty pulled even with his playing partner on their final hole of regulation, rolling in a 30-foot side hill eagle putt on the par-5 ninth hole.
On the playoff hole, the 445-yard, par-4 18th, Day managed a birdie to secure the title, leaving Flaherty as the runner-up for the second straight year.
Zaback (68-71-69=208), the reigning CSGA Player of the Year out of TPC River Highlands, and Wiatr (73-67-68=208), out of CC of Waterbury, both barely missed joining the playoff, while Masso (71-66-71=209), representing Lake of Isles Golf Club, held the lead for much of the third round before finishing sixth, his best finish in Palmer Cup play, and Birch (67-72-71=210), out of Silver Spring Country Club, was also in contention.
Dietrich (73-70-70=213), from The Farms Country Club, and Ahern (70-72-71=213), out of Wampanoag Country Club, completed the UConn Top 10 contingent.