Kensington, Connecticut (July 26, 2023) – Brett Stegmaier has traveled all over the world playing golf. He has nearly won a PGA Tour event and this year he has made the cut twice on the PGA Tour. On a steamy hot Wednesday at Shuttle Meadow Country Club Stegmaier’s golf journey came full circle as he captured the 89th Connecticut Open presented by GSB.
“I have been trying to win the Connecticut Open for quite a while,” said Brett Stegmaier. “I played in this a lot when I was a kid. I lost in a playoff in 2004 to Kyle Gallo who I played with today and I was close in 2005. It is definitely nice to win a golf tournament, it has been a while since I won one and it was good to win my state Open.”
Stegmaier (New Haven CC) began the final round at 8-under and two shots off the pace set by 36-hole leaders David Pastore and two-time defending champion Peter Ballo. However, by the time he stepped onto the final green he had flipped that deficit into a three-shot lead and he was just one par save away from securing the title.
With a large crowd that included his parents surrounding the closing par-5, Stegmaier faced a difficult chip from below the right side of the green for his third shot. Playing conservatively the chip ran through the green. Forced to chip again Stegmaier displayed deft touch nestling his ball to within 5 feet. Moments later Stegmaier brushed in the par putt, pumped his fist, and smiled as the realization that he had won the Connecticut Open began to set in.
Early in the day, it looked like the stage was set for a battle between Ballo (Connecticut GC) and Pastore (Fairview CC). Ballo jumped out to an early advantage with a birdie on the opening par-4 to move to 11-under. Two holes later Pastore answered with a birdie of his own on the par-5 third to reach 11-under.
After Ballo bogeyed the par-4 fifth Pastore, who played Nos. 3-7 in 10-under-par for the week, moved into the lead by himself. Once in front, Pastore went to work extending his advantage. First, he birdied the downhill par-3 sixth, and then after eagling the par-5 seventh each of the first two days, he continued his success on the hole with a birdie to move to 13-under.
Meanwhile in the group ahead as Pastore was surging so was Stegmaier thanks to the flatstick. Following a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-5 third Stegmaier hit what might have been his shot of the day. Sitting 235 yards out with a poor lie and a tree blocking out the green on the par-5 seventh Stegmaier took a mighty lash with a 4-iron hooking it around the tree and watching as the ball came to rest 12 feet from the hole. When Stegmaier rolled in the eagle putt to jump to 11-under he had officially announced to the field that he was ready to make a charge. And charge he did.
“I just tried to stay patient and give myself chances,” Stegmaier said. “I knew with the way I was rolling it I would have a good chance and that is what I did.”
A 15-foot birdie putt dropped on the No. 8 moving the 1999 Connecticut Junior Amateur champion within one shot of the lead. On the ensuing hole, the par-3 ninth Stegmaier found the green with his tee shot and then rolled in his 25-foot birdie putt to tie for the lead as he made the turn in 5-under 32 and at 13-under for the tournament.
On the back nine Stegmaier simply kept pushing forward. He moved into the lead alone with a 20-foot birdie on the par-3 11th and then reached 15-under with his fifth birdie of the day on the par-3 13th, this one from 8 feet.
In the meantime, Ballo was fading and Pastore was stuck in neutral. Pastore, the winner of the Massachusetts Open last month, simply was not able to get anything going after his birdie on No. 7 playing the remainder of his round in even par with just a bogey and a birdie on the final hole appearing on his scorecard.
Slowed by a back injury early in the year, there would be nothing slowing down Stegmaier on this day. Despite a bogey after a miss club on the par-3 15th Stegmaier could not be stopped.
Leading by two shots with two holes remaining Stegmaier closed the door in emphatic fashion on the uphill par-4 17th converting another long birdie putt to once again reach 15-under-par and open up a comfortable three-shot lead heading into the final hole.
“It put me at ease today knowing that I have played in big spots (on the PGA Tour) not too long ago,” explained Stegmaier who closed in 7-under 64. “I hadn’t played in the Connecticut Open since 2005 until last year when I played at my home course (New Haven Country Club). It was disappointing not to win there. I probably put too much pressure on myself. I came here this year with a little less pressure, I tried to stay a little more patient. I played really well the last two days and I made a bunch of putts.”
Pastore ended up in solo second place at 13-under, Jason Thresher (Suffield) finished 12-under to take third place while Cody Paladino (Hartford GC), Casey Pyne (The Stanwich Club), and Ballo tied for fourth at 10-under.
Paladino earned low amateur honors for a second consecutive year after shooting a 7-under 64 in the final round.
About the Connecticut State Golf Association
The Connecticut Open is one of 20 championships conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association. 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 60 Championships, Qualifiers, and One Day Tournaments throughout the year.