DARIEN – Peter Ballo (of Silvermine Country Club) took the 87th Connecticut Open title presented by The Reby Financial Advisory Teams of Wealth Enhancement Group Wednesday afternoon by shooting a match-best 12-under (201) to win by five strokes total.
Ballo’s 66 on day three did not look like it was on par for the round low after a three-put bogey to open the third round. He fell three shots back, and felt a little bit like it could not be his day.
The momentum began to swing on the difficult par-four 7th . With Ben Carpenter leading by three shots at the time, his drive into the rough gave him a tough lie while Ballo hit the fairway. Carpenter’s second shot found sand, giving Ballo an opportunity to close the gap as he put his approach shot five feet from the pin to set him up for birdie.
Carpenter bogeyed the hole while Ballo birdied, cutting the split to one stroke at -9 and -8.
“That swing I had [with my approach shot on] No. 7 really brought me to a different area today with my mind and comfort level,” said Ballo. “I felt fine prior but hitting that shot kind of gave me a different mojo and kick started that birdie barrage.”
On the 11th Ballo took control of the back nine and the round, putting his tee shot on the green while Carpenter hit sand, just off the green. Carpenter ended the hole with bogey while Ballo’s two-putt for par gave him the lead.
Taking the lead, Ballo took off. He nailed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 13th to extend to two, and saved par from eight feet away to pick up another stoke on Carpenter, who found water off the box.
“Only positives out of the week,” Carpenter said despite a disappointing final round. “Unfortunately I couldn’t pull through. I just had a couple of loose swings that really killed me and I couldn’t catch any momentum. But the first two days of golf I played here were outstanding and I can only take positives out of that.”
With a comfortable lead with four holes left, Ballo extended his lead with a birdie on 15 and 16 to bring him to 12-under.
“I just think I was ready to win [the Connecticut Open],” said Ballo, who was last year's runner-up. “I have been close in the past but it is a learning experience. I just think mentally I was ready to win this year.”
Carpenter ended up in third place at six-under. Defending champion Max Theodorakis (Ridgewood CC) finished fourth with a 68 on Day 3, finishing at four-under. Paul Pastore (Fairview CC) and Blake Morris (CC of Waterbury) shared fifth at three-under.
Other notable finishes include amateur Roman Jackson (Shuttle Meadow Country Club), who shot a seven-over to tie for 24th. Kyle Gallo (Berlin) shot a 16-over to finish 43rd, making the cut for the final day. Michael Gillette (Southington) shot a nine-over through two rounds, missing the cut for Day 3. Amateur Jacob Lindsay (Shuttle Meadow Country Club) also missed the cut, shooting an 11-over through two days.
The win for Ballo makes it the first time a father and son have won the Connecticut Open in its history. Peter’s father, Mike Ballo, is a two-time champion in 1969 and 1978.
On making history, and joining an exclusive club with his father, Ballo said it’s tough to register the feeling of sharing the honor with him.
“I still haven’t quite gathered what this means,” Ballo said. “I was able to win the Westchester PGA Match Play which my father won so now to do it twice in a year it is special. I am sure at some point it will hit me but right now it hasn’t hit me.”
The Connecticut Open, presented by The Reby Financial Advisory Teams of Wealth Enhancement Group,