The Connecticut Open Championship is scheduled to begin Monday at Torrington Country Club in Goshen, the home course of none other than Ivan Lendl. Yes, that Ivan Lendl. The tennis player who won eight Grand Slam singles championships during the 1980's and was the No. 1-ranked player in the world for almost five years now gets his competitive juices flowing by playing golf.
Of course, the 53-year-old Goshen resident isn't nearly as dominant on the golf course as he was on the tennis court. But he's certainly no slouch. Since his legendary tennis career concluded in 1994, Lendl has thrown himself into golf, playing in as many tournaments in New England as he can. Serving as 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray's coach has cut into his Lendl's golf time, but he still managed to hit the course during his recent stay overseas.
A report from Wimbledon said he played golf every day during the tournament, preparing for a tournament back in Connecticut in July. We all know what tournament that is. Lendl has enjoyed success at Torrington Country Club, winning the men's title at his home course numerous times over the years, so it will be interesting to see how he fares at the 79th Connecticut Open this week against a highly competitive field.
This year's tournament includes defending champion Jason Caron of Stamford, who shot a three-round score of 2-under-par 214 en route to winning the title a year ago. Norwalk resident Frank Bensel, the 2011 and 2009 champion who plays out of Century Club will be on hand, as will four-time Connecticut Open winner Kyle Gallo of Connecticut National Golf Club. Gallo just missed winning an unprecedented fifth Open title last year, as he was edged by Caron by one shot.
Burning Tree Country Club's Danny Balin, who won the New York State Open for the second straight year on Thursday, should be one of the players to watch at Torrington, along with brothers Mike and Peter Ballo from Stamford. Then there's Ken Green. The Danbury native, who captured five PGA titles, holds the 54-hole Connecticut Open scoring record (200 over three rounds in 1992) with Gallo. Can Green turn back the clock and win his first Open championship since 1992? We'll find out next week.
SHOW THEM THE MONEY
The professional purse for this year's Connecticut Open will be $50,000, an increase of more than $5,000 from last year's purse. The winner's share has been raised to $12,500, an increase of $2,000, making it the highest winner's total in the tournament's history. There are also more players competing in this year's event. The number of qualifying sites for the tourney was increased from four in previous years to six this summer. The result -- the previous system qualified 129 players into the tournament, while this year's field is set at 144 competitors.
U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR RESULTS
Theo Humphrey of Greenwich made a strong showing at the U.S. Junior Amateur at Martis Camp Club in Truckee, Calif., advancing to the Round of 64. Humphrey qualified for match play by shooting a 149 (79-70) through two rounds of stroke play. Norwalk's Jacob Henny, who made it to the semifinals of the Met Junior Championship last week at Fairview Country Club in Greenwich, shot a 173 over two rounds of stroke play qualifying. Cameron Young of Scarborough, N.Y., last week's Met Junior Championship winner, is still alive in the U.S. Amateur. He is currently playing George Cunningham of Tucscon, Az., in the Round of 16.