Jeffrey Evanier of Clinton CC captured the 83rd Connecticut Open Championship on Wednesday, shooting a final round 71 and outlasting Jason Thresher of West Suffield, Conn. and Max Theodorakis of Ridgewood CC in the three hole aggregate playoff to claim the title. The state’s most prestigious open championship was played on the 6,936 yard, par-72 layout at Ellington Ridge Country Club in Ellington, Connecticut.
Evanier, who was the co-leader after both the first and second rounds, played solid throughout his final round, making two birdies and just one bogey to hold steady atop the leaderboard. But with Thresher making a move and the closing stretch playing difficult, he knew he would need something special to have a chance to win.
“I found out on the 14th hole that Thresher was at 12 [under par], and I had just three putted for par on #13, so that was a little frustrating,” said Evanier. “I had good looks on #15 #16 and just missed. I was hitting the ball well and couldn’t get the putts to drop, but when I heard that Jason bogied #18, I just tried to hold on the last few holes. I made a couple of great saves on #17 and 18, which were playing really tough, so I was fortunate enough to make a couple of par’s to get into the playoff.”
Thresher matched the low round of the day to post the clubhouse lead at eleven under-par nearly forty-five minutes before the leaders. The two-time defending Massachusetts Open Champion made just one bogey on his final round, an unfortunate 3-putt that dropped him back to -11. After an opening round of 70, the two-time defending Massachusetts Open Champion made just three bogies in his final 36-holes.
Joining Evanier and Thresher at eleven under-par was Theodorakis, who was looking to become the first amateur since 2009 to win the Connecticut Open. Trailing the leaders by one stroke on the final hole, he missed the green long and to the left. Facing one of the most difficult pitch shots on the course and knowing he needed to make birdie to get into the playoff, Theodorakis hit the perfect flop shot that gently trickled down the slope and into the cup.
“It was a really tough chip and I knew it was to force a playoff, but it was tough just to get it close to the hole. I hit it up high and when it started to come backwards, I knew it had a chance. Even when I was in the pIayoff, I still couldn’t believe it went in.”
The three-hole aggregate playoff began on #10, and Evanier quickly took control, making a twenty-foot birdie on #10 while Thresher made par and Theodorakis made bogey. After missing the green on the par-3 17th and hitting his pitch shot to a modest fifteen feet, he responded once again, rolling in his par putt to maintain a one shot lead. With both Thresher and Theodorakis struggling for par on the 18th, Evanier needed just two putts on the final green to seal the victory.
“It feels great, there’s really nothing like winning your state open,” said Evanier. “I haven’t had a great track record at this event before, so for me to come out here, play well and stick with my game plan really feels great. This win makes me feel like I’ve done something really special with my golf career and I can’t wait to continue.”
Evanier is hoping that he can carry the momentum of his Connecticut Open victory through a busy summer and fall schedule. He plans on returning to South America for the second half of the PGA Tour Latinoamerica’s season, and will also be playing PGA Tour Qualifying School this fall.
Three-time Connecticut Open Champion Frank Bensel nearly joined the trio in the playoff, but was unable to convert an up-and-down on the final hole and finished in 4th place, just one stroke back at ten under-par. Pete Ballo of Woodway CC and Blake Morris of CC of Waterbury rounded out the top-5, shooting tournament totals of nine under-par.
Low Amateur Honors
Theodorakis may have come up just short of his quest for the Open Championship, but his runner-up finish earned him low amateur honors. Theodorakis’ eleven under-par total included a course record-tying 64 on Tuesday, which catapulted him up the leaderboard and into contention. A total of nine amateurs made the cut, with Rasmey Kong (Eclub of Connecticut), Andrew Sciarretta (Brooklawn CC) and Adam Friedman (Birchwood CC) all finishing inside the top-20.
Evanier might have won the Connecticut Open Championship, but the shot of the week belonged to John Flaherty of TPC River Highlands. Flaherty made a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th with a 4-iron from 235 yards, the second hole-in-one of his career. The ace helped propel him to a final round 70 and a tournament total of three under-par, securing a tie for 16th place.
About the Tournament
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Connecticut Open tested the state’s top amateur and professional 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.