Trio Takes Home Titles at The Farrell
GREENWICH, Conn. (October 1, 2023) – After Friday's flooding rains postponed play for two days, the 2023 edition of The Farrell was shortened to 18 holes of stroke play on Sunday. All three winners finished under-par to capture their titles at The Stanwich Club.
Cody Paladino of Hartford Golf Club fired a 5-under 67 to win the Men's Mid-Amateur division. Alexandra Villatte Farret of RCF La Boulie carded a 1-under 71 to win the Women's Mid-Amateur division. Mark McGowan of Saucon Valley Country Club finished a 2-under 70 to win the Men's Senior division.
Paladino recorded six birdies and a bogey on his round. Four birdies came on the front side — Paladino's closing nine having started on No. 10 — where Paladino carded a 4-under 32. Paladino finished three shots clear of RJ Zielinski of The Stanwich Club, Mark Costanza of Baltusrol Golf Club, and Ben Cooley of Huntingdon Valley.
Paladino was 3-under on the round when he checked the scoreboard to see where he stood. Thanks to key approach shots on his finishing stretch, he birdied his final two holes to get to five-under.
"A lot of solid iron shots," said Paladino when asked about the keys to his round. "It was a little breezy, and the greens were a little tricky even being soft. It was still tough to control your spin out there. Mid-iron shots were the key, I would say, for myself, and I made a few putts."
Villatte Farret got up-and-down on the 18th hole for par from short of the elevated green to secure the one-shot win after making birdie on the par-5 17th when she stuck her third shot to five feet. The native of France edged last year's champion Catherine McEvoy of Innis Arden. Though Villatte Farret made birdie on her opening hole, she bogeyed three of her next four holes. However, she played 3-under the rest of the way, carding birdies on Nos. 12, 14, and 17 to reach 1-under and earn the title.
After her win, Villatte Farret said, "I think my putting [was key]. My putting and I didn't miss a lot of shots. I wasn't in the rough. I was always on the fairway. So, it makes it easier. And my putting on the back nine [helped me]."
McGowan recorded the largest winning margin on the day — four shots. He birdied his first two holes of the day — Nos. 1 and 2 — and turned in 2-under, but dropped back to 1-over after a double-bogey on 10 and a bogey on 11. Back-to-back pars on 12 and 13 righted the ship for the Pennsylvania native before he birdied the par-5 14th, par-4 15th, and the par-3 16th to move back to 2-under.
After his round, McGowan said, "I was leaving the house today. I told my wife, if I drive the ball well today, I think I have a pretty good shot. So, why not me today? And I went out and drove the ball well, except for hooking it out of bounds on 10."
Jim Strickland of Whisper Rock, Jay Sessa from Cherry Valley, and Pat Peirson from New York Country Club finished in a three-way tie for second at 2-over. Strickland held the lead on the back nine before bogeying the par-3 16th after missing the green to the left. Peirson finished runner-up for the second straight year.
All three winners were excited to collect wins at a venue like The Stanwich Club.
McGowan added, "Winning anything is great. Winning here at Stanwich with this membership is incredible. The professional staff is incredible. I'm just grateful to have won and have been a part of it."
Paladino mentioned, "It's only going to get stronger. The world-class treatment that we've all received and an unbelievable golf course. I'm very proud to have my name on that trophy because I think it's only going to get harder and harder to put your name on it."
"Yeah, it's a good sensation to win. And this is such a great event. I'm very proud to win here. It's my first [win] in the U.S. I've never won before, so I'm thrilled," said Villatte Farret after her round.
The Farrell family has long been synonymous with golf in the Met Area. Billy was one of five children and grew up in New Jersey; his father, Johnny, the 1928 U.S. Open champion, was the Head Professional at Baltusrol Golf Club. While competing on tour, where he played in eight U.S. Opens and seven PGA Championships, Billy also worked as an assistant at Baltusrol. Billy and his wife Alvera had seven children; for 20 years, his son Bobby served as the Director of Golf at Tamarack Country Club in Greenwich, Conn. The Farrells were named Golf Family of the Year in 1966 by the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association.
The Farrell, in its second year, typically has an 18-hole stroke play qualifying round, with 16 players advancing to match play for each division. Weekend rounds of match play then decide a champion. However, Friday's nearly six inches of rain placed Stanwich under water and challenged the ability to play the event. However, thanks to the hard work from Stanwich's grounds team led by Scott Niven, the water was pumped and drained off course and players were treated to outstanding conditions, especially on the greens.
Stanwich hosted the U.S. Mid-Amateur in 2002 and is especially known for its fast, true greens. In the years since, the Club has welcomed the Palmer Cup and Wyndham Cup. It stands among 19 Met Area clubs that have hosted all three MGA majors—the Ike, Amateur and Open—hosting the Met Open in 1972 and 1996, the Ike in 1989 and the Met Amateur in 2004 and 2013.