Torrington Country Club set to host State Open this week. Story by John Torsiello.
By, JOHN TORSIELLO
The best golfers in Connecticut and beyond our borders, all 144 of them, descend on Torrington Country Club this week to compete in the 79th Connecticut Open Championship.
The Connecticut Open is the only Connecticut State Golf Association championship that is open to both amateurs and professionals. The tournament was first played in 1931, with Henry Ciuci winning the inaugural championship at the Course at Yale. Torrington Country Club has twice played host to the Connecticut Open Championship. In 1946, F.J. Torza of Wethersfield Country Club shot a four-round total of 293 for his victory, and in 1962, Bob Cloughen of Ridgewood Country Club recorded a three-round total of 207.
More recently, Torrington Country Club has hosted two Connecticut Amateur Championships in 1994 and 2006. The 1994 championship was highlighted by PGA Tour Champion J.J. Henry of The Patterson Club capturing his first of three Connecticut Amateur titles. In 2006, Tommy McDonagh captured his first Connecticut Amateur title in dramatic fashion, winning the final match in 39 holes over 2006 Player of the Year Cody Paladino. McDonagh, who also won the 2011 Connecticut Amateur Championship, will return to Torrington Country Club as a professional, having had a spectacular amateur career that also included two Met Amateur titles.
In 2012, Jason Caron of Siwanoy CC captured his first Connecticut Open Championship at Wee Burn Country Club with a 54-hole total of 2-under par 214, edging four-time Open Champion Kyle Gallo by a single shot.
The CSGA has set up Torrington Country Club to play at 6,609 yards with a par of 72. The course was designed by Orrin Smith in 1929, with all 18 holes completed in 1932. Smith, a New Britain native, worked on numerous projects with notable architects Donald Ross and Willie Park, Jr. throughout his career.
The tournament’s first round will be played Monday and the second round Tuesday, with the low 40 scores, including ties, advancing to the final round on Wednesday. In the event of a tie after 54 holes of stroke play, a hole-by-hole playoff will begin immediately following conclusion of all rounds. The total purse for the tournament is $50,000, the highest ever, with $12,500 going to the winner.
The field for the State Open has a delightful mix of local players and some big names that will surely attract crowds.
Perhaps the most interesting threesome on the first two days is former PGA Tour player and five-time Tour winner Ken Green, who has continued to play golf despite losing a leg in a tragic automobile accident. Green grew up in Connecticut and calls Richter Park Golf Course in Danbury his home these days. He is paired with Ivan Lendl, the eight-time Major winner and former world number one professional tennis player and part-time Goshen resident who turned to golf once his tennis days were over. Lendl is representing Torrington Country Club. The two will be joined by none other than Torrington native and now head pro at the Country Club of Darien, Cory Muller. The threesome tees off on the first hole at 7:50 a.m. Monday.
At the same time on the eighth tee is a threesome that includes former Gilbert School star and University of Connecticut player Adam Vaccari, who is paired with Candlewood Valley Country Club (New Milford) head pro Ed Slattery and Adam D’Amario of Indian Hill Country Club.
Glenn Carlson of Torrington Country Club goes off the eighth tee at 8 a.m. with Country Club of Waterbury head pro Tom Gleeton and Bill Wallis of New Haven Country Club.
Bob Sparks, head pro at Harwinton’s Fairview Farm Golf Course, tees off at 8:30 a.m. on the eighth tee with Zach Zaback of TPC River Highlands and Steve Mikulski of Twin Hills Country Club.
Brent Silano, former Torrington High School star and playing out of Torrington Country Club, tees off at 12:10 p.m. on the eighth tee along with Rob Violet of Gillette Ridge Golf Club and Phil Boehme of Oak Hills Golf Club.
Alex DiClemente, a former standout at Lewis Mills High School and playing out of Fairview Farm, goes off at 12:30 p.m. on the eighth hole with John Vanderlaan of Heritage Village Country Club and John Flaherty of TPC River Highlands.
Fran Marrello of Plymouth, former head pro at Canaan Country Club and a recent PGA Connecticut Section Hall of Fame inductee, tees off at 12:50 p.m. on the eighth hole with Steve Sokol of Orange Hills Country Club and Tony Kelley of Holyoke, Ma.
The defending champ Caron of Stamford is in a threesome with Winsted native Bobby Gage, a former PGA and mini-tour player, and Sam Bernstein of The Course at Yale. The group tees off at 1 p.m. on the first hole.
David Dell, former head pro at Green Woods Country Club, is teamed with Fairview Farms’ Paul Stancs and Ryan Kalista of Innis Arden Golf Club, with the threesome going off the first tee at 2 p.m.
Visit www.connecticutopen.com for further information and all starting times.