Jeffrey Evanier of Clinton CC and Max Theodorakis of Ridgewood CC both posted two-day totals of ten under-par 134 to grab a share of the lead heading into the final round of the 83rd Connecticut Open Championship.
The overnight co-leader, Evanier continued his solid play with a bogey-free 67, posting a ten under-par total of 134 to sit just one stroke back of Bensel. Starting on the back nine for his second round, he made the turn in one under-par for the day, but was able to take advantage of the easier front nine and record four more birdies.
“I had to scramble a little more today, I struggled to find the fairway and had to get up-and-down a few times on my first nine to save par,” said Evanier. “I really hung in there and putted well, and was able to get in going on my second nine. For tomorrow, I just need to go back to my game plan and hit fairways and take advantage of the par 5’s.”
Tied with Evanier atop the leaderboard is Theodorakis, who at the age of nineteen is looking to become the first amateur since Jeff Hedden (2009) to win the Connecticut Open. He shot his career best and the low round of the tournament thus far on Tuesday, a blistering bogey-free 64 that helped catapult him into contention.
“I think I’m eight under-par on the par 5’s thus far, so that’s been the key,” said Theodorakis. “Going out in the morning with smooth greens and no wind really helped. I honestly don’t know what to expect [playing in the final group], but I didn’t feel nervous at all today even when I knew I was leading and I feel great about where my game is at right now.”
Among those chasing the leaders include Frank Bensel, who despite a pair of closing bogies on his second round, sits at nine under-par and just one stroke off the lead. Bensel is hoping to join Kyle Gallo and John Golden as the only four-time winners of the Connecticut Open Championship. He played near perfect golf aside from a disappointing finish, making six birdies and just two bogies for his round of 68.
“[Holes] 17 and 18 are two really tough holes, but other than that I played great," said Bensel. "I drove it well and putted well, so I’m really happy with the way I played."
Trailing the leaders by just two strokes is Eric Dietrich of The Farms CC, who shot a five under-par 67 on day two to post an eight under-par total. Dietrich, who graduated from the University of Connecticut this spring, set the course record of 64 at Ellington Ridge CC while at UCONN, a record which was tied by Theodorakis in the second round. Rounding out the top-5 is Blake Morris of CC of Waterbury, the 2014 Russell C. Palmer Cup Champion, who shot rounds of 70-67—137 (-7).
The 83rd Connecticut Open Championship concludes Wednesday, with the leaders teeing off at 8:40 a.m. Live hole-by-hole scoring will be available for all of the leading groups online at ConnecticutOpen.com. Admission to Ellington Ridge Country Club is free for the Connecticut Open and spectators are welcome to attend.
Making “The Cut”
This year’s starting field of 150 players was trimmed to just the low 45 competitors following the conclusion of play on Tuesday. Each year, the lowest 40 competitors, plus ties, advance to play the final round of stroke play on the third and final day.
The day began with the projected cut at 147 (+3), but quickly fell to 146 (+2), where it stayed for the remainder of the afternoon. At day’s end, a total of 45 players made the cut. All professional players who make the cut earn a paycheck, with the winner taking home the first-place professional prize of $12,500.
Low Amateur Watch
A total of sixty-two amateurs began the tournament in search of capturing the Connecticut Open Championship, and after two days of stroke play, only nine players remain with a chance to make that dream a reality. Aside from Theodorakis, who sits just one shot off the pace, Rasmey Kong shot rounds of 70-69—139 (-5) and sits in eighth place. Kong and Theodorakis are the only amateurs inside the top-15, although Adam Friedman, Drew Brennan and Andrew Sciarretta all stand at one under-par after day two in a tie for twentieth place.
About the Tournament
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Connecticut Open is the only CSGA Championship that is open to both amateurs and professionals. The tournament tests the state’s top golfers over three rounds of stroke play at the historic Ellington Ridge Country Club. The total purse for the tournament is $50,000, with the professional champion capturing a winner’s check of $12,500.
About the Connecticut State Golf Association
The Connecticut Open Championship is one of 18 championships conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association. The CSGA functions as an extension of the USGA and provides stewardship for amateur golf in Connecticut. Founded in 1899, it is the country's oldest state golf association and conducts over 50 Championships, Qualifiers and One-Day Tournaments throughout the year. For more information, visit our website at csgalinks.org.