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86th Connecticut Open Championship

Championships

Storylines & Facts from the 81st Connecticut Open

Links: 2015 Field  

Qualifying: The championship field is limited to 150 players, with 94 of those players gaining entry through one of six 18-hole qualifiers. The remaining 56 players are exempt from qualifying based on the criteria set forth by the CSGA Competitions Committee.

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, the highest purse in championship history, with the champion taking home a winner’s check of $12,500.

Last Year’s Championship: In the 2014 Connecticut Open Championship at Rolling Hills Country Club, two-time past champion Frank Bensel of Fairfield, Conn. fired a final round 66 to finish at seven under-par and claim a two stroke victory. Bensel became just the seventh player to win the Connecticut Open three or more times, edging Mike Ballo of Woodway Country Club by two shots. David Pastore of Oak Hills Park Golf Course shot rounds of 71-65-70—206 to finish with low amateur honors in a tie for third place.

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.

208 - The winning score the last time the Open was held at Patterson (Brendan Walsh, 1996).

About the Course: The Patterson Club was first organized as a Dining and Social Club, formally established by a group of 20 charter members in 1929. The General Electric Co. purchased Quasset Farm, the home of Carlton H. Palmer and Winthrop Palmer, the first female CT State Senator, on December 24, 1945 so that the Club could be expanded to include facilities for golf.

Under orders from The Patterson Club Committee and by the direction of Robert Trent Jones Sr. (the premier golf architect of his time), Neil Martin, the first greens superintendent and the golf pro at Patterson built what he was directed to do: a difficult course to score upon. In its construction, workmen cleared 60 acres of woodland and swamps, buried five miles of farm stonewalls, and dug five artificial lakes, which dot the layout. The present course was designed and opened for play on June 28th, 1947.

Back Again: The 2015 Connecticut Open will mark the second time that The Patterson Club has played host to the Connecticut Open Championship. The club has previously hosted the Open in 1996, the Connecticut Amateur in 1991 and 2004, and the Connecticut Senior Amateur in 1989.

Player Storylines:

A total of 150 players will begin their quest for the 81st Connecticut Open Championship, of which 78 are professionals and 72 are amateurs. 94 players earned their way to The Patterson Club by qualifying at one of six sites across the state, and 56 players were exempt based on previous accomplishments.

Last Year’s Champion and three-time Connecticut Open winner Frank Bensel of Fairfield, Conn. will seek to become just the fourth player in tournament history to capture the title four times (Kyle Gallo and John Golden share the record). Among Bensel’s many accomplishments include three National PGA Assistant Championships (2010, 11 and 13), the 2007 Metropolitan Open and the 2009 Metropolitan PGA Championship.

A total of eight past Connecticut Open Champions are in the 2015 field. They are:

-       Frank Bensel, Century Country Club – 2009, 2011 and 2013 Champion
-       Kyle Gallo, Tallwood Country Club – 1998, 2000, 2004 and 2010 Champion
-       Nick Cook(a), Tashua Knolls Golf Course – 2004 and 2005 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 Course – 1984 Champion
-       James Becker, Blue Fox Run Golf Course – 1975 and 1976 Champion

At 17 years, 3 months and 27 days of age, Matt Cesare of Watertown Golf Club will be the youngest player in the field. Cesare advanced to his first Connecticut Open Championship at Richter Park Golf Course, shooting a round of two over-par 74.

On the opposite end, Bill Dober, 73, of Brooklawn Country Club is the oldest player in the field. Dober shot a round of one over-par 72 at Heritage Village Country Club to finish third in local qualifying for the 81st Connecticut Open. Although he has never won the Connecticut Open before, Dober previously won the Connecticut Senior Amateur in 1997 and 2000.

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:

-       Heritage Village CC- Brian LeBlanc, Ridgewood CC and Taylor Griffin (a), Torrington CC – 71 (E)
-       Clinton CC- Cory Muller, CC of Darien – 69 (-3)
-       Richter Park GC - Ben Conroy, Lyman Orchards GC – 69 (-3)
-       Manchester CC- Eric Dietrich (a), The Farms CC – 68 (-4)
-       Tashua Knolls GC- Gerard Courville, Shorehaven GC – 67 (-5)
-       Lake of Isles- Michael Thibodeau (a), Rolling Meadows CC – 72 (E)

Assistant PGA Professional Adam Rainaud of Black Hall Club recently finished 10th at the PGA Professional National Championship, good enough to earn a berth at the PGA Championship next month at Whistling Straits. For Rainaud, the PGA Championship will mark the second PGA Tour event for the reigning Connecticut Section PGA Player of the Year, who qualified for the Travelers Championship last year.

Also qualifying for the PGA Championship via the Professional National Championship was Brian Gaffney of Darien, Connecticut. Gaffney, the Head Professional at Quaker Ridge Golf Club, earned the twentieth and final spot by virtue of a five-man playoff after shooting rounds of 73-69-71-73--286. This will mark his fourth appearance in the PGA Championship, having also qualified in 2000, 2009 and 2012.

Danny Balin of Burning Tree Country Club won the PGA Tour Latinoamerica’s Guatemala Open this spring with rounds of 70-65-66—201. He currently sits in fifth place on the money list, with the top five earning Web.com tour cards at the conclusion of the fall season.

Fran Marrello of Plymouth, Conn. recently qualified for his second U.S. Senior Open at Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento, California and will be looking to add the Connecticut Open Championship to his collection. Marrello was inducted into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame in 2009, and has won the Connecticut PGA Championship twice (2001 and 2009), the Connecticut Senior PGA Championship four times (2007, 2010-12), and the Connecticut Section Player of the Year title seven times (1992-96, 2007 and 2012).

Also qualifying for his third U.S. Senior Open was Gerard Courville of Stratford, Conn. and the son of Jerry Courville, Sr. who was inducted into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame in 1975. Courville, Jr. is the last player from Connecticut to win a USGA championship, winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur championship in 1995 and advancing to the final match in the Mid-Amateur an amazing four times (1995, 1996, 1999, and 2002).

Kyle Gallo will begin the Connecticut Open Championship looking to become the first player in the eighty-one year history of the tournament to win five titles. Gallo last won the Open in 2010 at the Country Club of Fairfield, tying the 54-hole scoring record of 200 (-10), and has also recorded four runner-up finishes. In addition to his four Connecticut Open titles, Gallo has won the Massachusetts Open Championship (2011), Cape Cod Open (2009 and 2014) and the Maine Open (1999).

The lastamateur to win the Connecticut Open was Jeff Hedden of Black Hall Club, who won at Round Hill Club in a playoff over four-time champion Kyle Gallo. Bill Hermanson, also of Black Hall Club, hopes to break the drought at this year’s Open, and is among the favorites. Not only did Hermanson capture the 9th Senior Match Play Championship earlier this year by knocking off perennial favorite Dave Szewczul, but he also won the Connecticut Amateur at Patterson in 1991.

The list of accomplishments for Dave Szewczul of Tunxis Plantation Country Club are plentiful, and among them includes winning the CSGA Senior Player of the Year title a record six times (2009-14). But at age 62, the 2010 inductee into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame showed he can still compete with players of all ages by qualifying for the 115th U.S. Amateur Championship at Shuttle Meadow CC, shooting rounds of 71-70—141 to advance to Olympia Fields in a playoff over Matthew Naumec.

Andrew Sciarretta of Brooklawn 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. Sciarretta won the 74th Connecticut Junior Amateur at Watertown Golf Club, defeating 2013 champion Connor O’Brien 2 and 1. Sciarretta also won the US Challenge Cup’s Computer Merchant Cup at Wintonbury Hills Golf Course earlier this summer, shooting rounds of 71-70—141 to capture the title by four shots.

Mike Gilmore last won the Connecticut Open in 1997 and finished tied for seventh in 2014, but his final round at last year’s Connecticut Open made headlines around the state. The Head Professional at Winged Foot Golf Club shot a round of nine under-par 62 to catapult into contention. His round, which broke the previous course record by two shots, included eleven birdies on the card including five straight to open his round.

James Becker of Blue Fox Run Golf Course enters the Connecticut Open with plenty of momentum, having recently captured the 30th Connecticut Senior Open title at Shennecossett Golf Course. The 1975 and 1976 Connecticut Open Champion shot rounds of 67-71—138, good enough for a two stroke victory and his second Senior Open title.

Evan Grenus of TPC River Highlands made history last month by becoming just the second player in CSGA history to win the Junior Amateur and Amateur titles in consecutive years (Dick Siderowf 1954 Junior and 1955 Amateur), having also won the Junior Amateur in 2014. After falling 2-down through the first four holes of the 36-hole final against Greg Reilly of CC of Darien, Grenus played near perfect golf, winning six of the next eight holes and holding on to an eventual 5 and 4 victory at the 113th Connecticut Amateur Championship.

There are 4 pairs of brothers in the field, all of whom are seeking their first Connecticut Open title:

Mike and Peter Ballo: Mike was the runner-up at last year’s Connecticut Open, and Peter was the runner-up at the 2013 Connecticut Amateur.

Cody and Brent Paladino: Cody was the 2013 CSGA Player of the Year and currently plays on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, and Brent was the Runner-Up in the 2005 Connecticut Open.

Alex and Nick Taylor: Alex is a rising senior at Farifield University and competes on their Division I golf team, and Nick was a finalist <> at the 2010 Connecticut Amateur Championship.

Brian and Chris Tohir: Brian is a recent graduate of Georgetown University where he competed on their Division I golf team, and Chris Tohir recently graduated from New Canaan High School where he was captain of their golf team.

Chris Kenney, host PGA Professional at The Patterson Club, will look to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor when he begins his quest for the Connecticut Open title. Brendan Walsh, now the Head Professional at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., was the previous Head Professional at the club and won the Connecticut Open as the host professional when it was last played at Patterson in 1996.

Ben Day of New Haven Country Club enters the tournament looking to become the first player in CSGA championship history to win both the Russell C. Palmer Cup and Connecticut Open titles. Day captured the Palmer Cup earlier this spring at the Country Club of Waterbury by executing a second day charge from eight strokes behind the leaders and defeating John Flaherty on the first playoff hole.

The host club is represented by a total of five players They are: Harry Richards (a), Evan Degnan, David Lane, Pat Kowker, and Chris Kenney.

The Connecticut Junior Amateur, open to junior golfers under the age of eighteen, 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:

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

 

Championship Scorecard:

Total Yardage: 6,824 yards. USGA Course Rating is 73.4; Slope Rating is 131.

Hole #

 1

 2

 3

 4

 5

 6

 7

 8

 9

Total

 Yards

385

448

202

404

574

199

284

375

511

3,382

 Par

4

4

3

 4

5

3

4

 4

5

36

 

Hole #

 

10

 

11

 

12

 

13

 

14

 

15

 

16

 

17

 

18

 

Total

Yards

368

534

216

387

203

409

448

426

450

3,442

Par

4

5

3

4

3

4

4

4

 4

35

 

 

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About the CSGA

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, in addition to administering handicaps for over 40,000 members and 181 member clubs. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the CSGA supports a variety of golf organizations within Connecticut, including the Connecticut Women’s Golf Association, Southern New England Women’s Golf Association, The First Tee, the Connecticut PGA, the Connecticut Association of Golf Course Superintendents and the CSGA Scholarship Fund in honor of Widdy Neale.