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86th Connecticut Open Championship


Preview: 83rd Connecticut Open

Links: Starting Times & Pairings  | Tournament Field  

The 2017 Connecticut Open Championship kicks off on Monday, July 31st, with 150 of the state’s best amateur and professional golfers vying for the title.

About the Course: The 18-hole championship golf course at Ellington Ridge Country Club was designed by the noted golf architect, Geoffrey Cornish, in 1959 and has undergone numerous major improvements in the last 50 years. The 2017 Connecticut Open will mark the fourth time that Ellington Ridge Country Club has played host to this prestigious event. The club has previously hosted the Connecticut Open in 1975, 1979 and 1998, the Connecticut Amateur in 2008, and annually hosts the UCONN Connecticut Cup.

Finishing Stretch: Ellington Ridge CC boasts one of the toughest finishing stretches in all of Connecticut, and will most certainly test the leaders when they vie for the title on Wednesday afternoon. The par-4 16th and 18th holes measure 445 yards and 473 yards, and the 239 yard par-3 17th features a green completely surrounded by bunkers.

What’s at Stake? The championship is contested over 54-holes of stroke play, with 150 players vying for the title. Professionals will be playing for a total of $50,000, with the champion taking home a winner’s check of $12,500. In addition to merchandise credit for top finishers, amateurs are vying for valuable Dick Tettelbach Player of the Year Points. The low amateur in the Connecticut Open will receive 250 points, as well as additional points based on overall finish.

By the Numbers:

4- The most CT Open victories for an individual (Kyle Gallo & John Golden)

11- The number of times the Connecticut Open Championship has been successfully defended.

25- Longest number of years a champion has ever gone between winning two Connecticut Open Championships (John A. Gentile: 1970, 1995)

200- The 54-hole scoring record at a Connecticut Open, recorded by Ken Green in 1992 at Ridgewood Country Club and Kyle Gallo in 2010 at the Country Club of Fairfield.

214- The winning score the last time the Open was held at Ellington Ridge CC (Kyle Gallo, 1998).

Player storylines:

A total of 150 players will begin their quest for the 81st Connecticut Open Championship, of which 84 are professionals and 66 are amateurs. 92 players earned their way to Ellington Ridge Country Club by qualifying at one of six sites across the state, and 58 players were exempt based on previous accomplishments.

Last Year’s Championship: In the 2016 Connecticut Open Championship at Woodway Country Club, three-time Connecticut Section PGA Player of the Year Adam Rainaud was able to overcome a six shot deficit to capture the title. Rainaud played his final 27 holes of the tournament in eleven under par, and his final round 65 tied the course record at Woodway Country Club. Rainaud recently qualified for his second PGA Championship, finishing tied for fifth at the PGA Professional Championship to earn his spot at Quail Hollow.

A total of nine past Connecticut Open Champions are in the 2017 field. They are:

-       Adam Rainaud, Winged Foot Golf Club – 2016 Champion
-       Cody Paladino, Wethersfield Country Club – 2015 Champion
-       Frank Bensel, Century Country Club – 2009, 2011 and 2014 Champion
-       Jeff Curl, Cedar Knob Golf Course – 2007 and 2013 Champion
-       Kyle Gallo, Tallwood Country Club – 1998, 2000, 2004 and 2010 Champion
-       Steve Sokol, Orange Hills Country Club – 2003 Champion
-       Mike Gilmore, Winged Foot Golf Club – 1997 Champion
-       Kevin Giancola, Golf Quest – 1987, 1988 and 1994 Champion
-       Jack McConachie, North Ridge Golf Club – 1984 Champion

At age fourteen, Ben James (a) of Great River Golf Club is the youngest player in the field and is competing in his second Connecticut Open Championship. James is currently the highest ranked junior golfer in Connecticut and is coming off consecutive top-5 finishes in AJGA events at Killington and Windham Mountain.

Local qualifying was conducted at six sites across the state for those players who were not exempt. The qualifying medalists at the respective sites were:

-       The Farms CC – Greg Horvath (a) (Manchester CC), Robert Taggart III (Lake of Isles) and Rasmey Kong (a) (Eclub of Connecticut) – 72
-       Cedar Knob GC – John Martincheck (Blackledge CC) and Michael Sweeney (a) (Eclub of Connecticut) – 71
-       Richter Park GC – Geoff Gelderman (Tashua Knolls GC) – 68
-       Glastonbury Hills CC – Steve Sokol (Orange Hills CC) and Michael Thompson (a) (Glastonbury Hills CC) – 73
-       Wampanoag CC – Sean Sweitzer (Madison CC) – 68
-       Timberlin GC – CJ Swift (TPC River Highlands) and Aaron Ungvarsky (Hartford GC) -- 67 

Kyle Gallo of Tallwood CC will begin the Connecticut Open Championship hoping to become the first player in the eighty-three year history of the tournament to win five titles, and he is returning to a course that has plenty of good memories. Gallo won the first of his four Connecticut Open Championships at Ellington Ridge in 1998, shooting a total of 214 (-2) to capture the title.

2014 and 2016 CSGA Player of the Year Zach Zaback of TPC River Highlands, who is seeking to win his first Connecticut Open title, has fond memories of Ellington Ridge Country Club. Just a few weeks ago, Zaback qualified for his first PGA Tour event at Ellington Ridge, shooting 67 to grab one of the four available spots in the Travelers Championship Open Qualifier.

Richard Dowling (a) of Shelton, Connecticut made a historic run at the 115th Connecticut Amateur earlier this summer, defeating Evan Grenus of TPC River Highlands on the 36th hole to win his first CSGA major championship. Only one player in CSGA history has ever won both the Connecticut Open and Connecticut Amateur Championships in the same year (1940 - H.H. Mandly, Jr.), and the last amateur to win the Connecticut Open was Jeff Hedden in 2008 at Round Hill Club.

Will Wilson (a) of Wee Burn Country Club will begin the Connecticut Open Championship hoping to become the ninth player in CSGA history to win both the Junior Amateur and the Open Championship. Wilson won the 76th Connecticut Junior Amateur at Watertown Golf Club, defeating 2016 champion Andrew Franz 5 and 3.

John Flaherty of TPC River Highlands captured low amateur honors in both 2015 and 2016, and the 2015 CSGA Player of the Year hopes this will be the year he can break through to capture the Connecticut Open. Flaherty turned professional over the winter and he will be one of 84 professionals looking to take home the winner’s check.

There are two pairs of brothers in the field:

Mike, Jr. and Peter Ballo: Mike was the runner-up at the 2014 Connecticut Open and won the 2006 Connecticut Junior Amateur, and Peter was the runner-up at the 2013 Connecticut Amateur.

Cody and Brent Paladino: Cody won the Connecticut Open in 2015 and currently plays on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, and Brent was the 2007 CSGA Player of the Year.

The last Head Professional to win the Connecticut Open when it was played at their own club was Brendan Walsh, now the Head Professional at The Country Club, who won the title in 1996 at The Patterson Club. Christopher Bland, Ellington Ridge CC Head Professional who replaced longtime Professional Tony Rowe this year, will look to become the first player from Ellington Ridge since Kyle Gallo won his second Connecticut Open at the Country Club of Fairfield.

The host club is represented by a total of six players. They are: Christopher Bland, Drew Brennan (a), Jackson Buccigross (a), Matt DiRamio (a), David Olender (a), Clark Robinson (a), and John Sawka (a). Robinson, who was medalist at US Amateur qualifying at Ellington Ridge in 2016, and who completed an outstanding collegiate career at Marshall University this spring will be making his professional debut at the Open.

The Connecticut Junior Amateur, open to junior golfers under the age of nineteen, has long represented the foundation for building lifelong CSGA champions. A total of seven past Connecticut Junior Amateur champions are in the field, all of whom are seeking to win their first Connecticut Open title. They are:

-       Will Wilson (a) (Wee Burn CC) – 2017 Champion
-       Andrew Sciarretta (a) (Brooklawn CC) – 2015 Champion
-       Evan Grenus (a) (TPC River Highlands) – 2014 Champion
-       John Flaherty (TPC River Highlands) – 2011 Champion
-       Monte Mullen (a) (TPC River Highlands) – 2010 Champion
-       Mike Ballo (Woodway CC) – 2006 Champion
-       Ian Marshall (Watertown GC) – 1997 Champion
-       Gerard Courville (Shorehaven GC) – 1975 Champion

Social Media:

In addition to full championship coverage on our website at csgalinks.org and ConnecticutOpen.com, players and spectators can join the conversation using the hashtag #CTOpen.

- Like Us on Facebook at Facebook.com/CSGALinks

- Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @CSGALinks

- Championship Photos on our Flickr page – Flickr.com/csgalinks

Schedule of Events:

Monday, July 31st - First Round of Stroke Play - 18 Holes

Tuesday, August 1st- Second Round of Stroke Play - 18 Holes
*The low 40 players including ties will advance to the final round on Wednesday, August 2nd

Wednesday, August 2nd - Final Round of Stroke Play - 18 Holes

Championship Scorecard:

Total Yardage: 6,932 yards / Par 72. USGA Course Rating is 73.8; Slope Rating is 139.

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About the CSGA

Founded in 1899, the CSGA is the country's oldest state golf association and, as an Allied Golf Association of the USGA, provides stewardship for amateur golf in Connecticut. In addition to administering handicaps for over 40,000 members at 181 member clubs, the CSGA conducts more than 85 days of competition throughout the year for golfers of all ages, genders, and skill levels. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the CSGA supports a variety of golf organizations within Connecticut, including the Connecticut Association of Golf Course Superintendents, Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, Connecticut Section PGA, Connecticut Women’s Golf Association, CSGA Scholarship Fund in honor of Widdy Neale, LPGA-Amateur Golf Association, Southern New England Women’s Golf Association, and The First Tee of Connecticut.