David Pastore, the low amateur at this year's Connecticut State Open, has Connecticut poised for its best finish in the USGA Men's State Team Championship. (USGA/Chris Keane)
By David Shefter, USGA - October 1, 2014
FRENCH LICK, Ind. – It has been 11 years since Connecticut posted a top-10 finish in the USGA Men’s State Team Championship, but that long drought could end this year.
Anchored by recent University of Virginia graduate David Pastore, 22, of Greenwich, and fellow 2014 college graduate Peter Ballo (Sacred Heart), 23, of Stamford, Connecticut has positioned itself to make a run for the championship through 36 holes on the Pete Dye Course at the French Lick Resort.
Connecticut’s previous best finish was sixth in 2003, thanks to the performance of 1995 U.S Mid-Amateur champion Jerry Courville Jr. The team also tied for eighth in the inaugural Men’s State Team in 1995 and shared seventh in 1999.
Pastore added an even-par 72 on Wednesday to his 2-under 70 from Tuesday’s opening round to pace Connecticut to a 54-hole total of 2-over 290, good enough for a share of sixth. Each team of three golfers counts two scores for its total in the 54-hole competition. Ballo, who holed out a wedge from 64 yards for eagle on the par-5 18th hole, added a 73, while Kevin Josephson, 24, of New Britain, shot a non-counting 78.
Ballo, a 2013 U.S. Amateur qualifier, was the 2014 Northeast Conference Player of the Year, and Josephson was the runner-up at this year’s Connecticut Amateur.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Pastore is performing well. He’s enjoyed a remarkable summer that includes victories at the Metropolitan Golf Association Amateur, the MGA’s Ike Championship and a career-low 65 at the Connecticut Open that helped him finish third, earning him low-amateur honors. He also won the Westchester (N.Y.) County Open. While he doesn’t compete in many Connecticut State Golf Association events – MGA events don’t count – he did earn enough points to make the team. Qualifying for this year’s U.S. Amateur Public Links in Newton, Kan., also added to his point total.
At Virginia, Pastore’s lone collegiate win came this past spring in Texas, where he edged teammate and 2014 U.S. Amateur semifinalist Denny McCarthy in a playoff.
“I think [Pastore] is one of the top players in the country,” said Connecticut captain Mike Moraghan, the executive director for the CSGA who was the head men’s golf coach at Virginia for 15 years (1989-2004). “He earned his spot. But he clearly is one of the top players.”
Pastore is using this week’s championship as a tuneup for Stage I of Web.com Tour Q-School next week in Nebraska. Earlier this month, he advanced out of pre-qualifying in California, and he plans to turn professional in November.
But he would like to help bring back the Men’s State Team trophy to the Constitution State.
“They’re a good group. They’re real strong competitors and mature players,” said Moraghan. “They make good decisions and they hit the ball great. I can’t ask much more than that.”