Peter Ballo shoots 64, leads by 1 at Connecticut Open

DARIEN — More often than not, you will find the last name of Ballo on the leaderboard at a Connecticut Open.

Whether it’s Peter or Mike Jr., the brothers are often within striking distance. But neither golfer has ever come home with the championship hardware. Maybe this will be the week that happens with both brothers on the leaderboard after round one Monday.

Peter Ballo shot the low round of the day with a 6-under-par 64 at Country Club of Darien to lead by one shot at the 87th Connecticut Open. Sitting two shots behind is Mike Jr. in fourth place after posting 67.

“It’s pretty funny when one of your brothers is one of the best players there is,” Mike Jr. said. “I’d rather lose to him than anyone else, yet I always want to take him.”

Ben Carpenter, a rising sophomore golfer at Yale University, shot a 5-under 66, leaving him one shot back. He joins Jackson Roman, the former Hamden Hall Country Day standout.

Carpenter has shot 66 12 times here, but this was the first one in a competitive tournament.

“The mindset doesn’t change (or Tuesday’s second round). I have to stay patient. Birdies come, bogeys come, there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Carpenter, who played at Brunswick. “I should have a slight advantage going out on the first tee time (7:30 a.m.). The greens should be great. It will not be as windy and not as hot. I hope I can play well.”

Eric Dietrich and Chris Fosdick are tied third at 3-under, 3 shots behind Peter Ballo.

Mike Ballo Jr. said the only other time he recalled playing with Pete Ballo in the same tournament was the Metropolitan Section’s PGA Assistants’ championship held at the Bethpage Park Red Course on Long Island. Mike said he won that individual competition.

“It’s kind of nice to see both of us up there,” said Mike Jr., an assistant pro at Westchester CC.

Both Ballos will not play together on Tuesday as the first two rounds pairings are pre-determined. But both brothers will be playing in the afternoon wave, so they will know what will be needed to stay atop the leaderboard heading into Wednesday’s final round.

Peter, a 30-year-old assistant at Silvermine GC in Norwalk, qualified for the PGA Championship in May. He had six birdies (holes 2, 7, 9, 13, 15 and 18) and no bogeys on Monday.

“I drove it really well. That’s kind of the big thing here with how long the rough is here,” Peter said. “You have to keep it in the fairway and I pretty much did. The couple of times I was in the rough, I didn’t catch that bad of a lie. I was pretty lucky and I putted awesome.”

On the 18th hole, a shorter par-5 (495 yards), Ballo hit 3-wood from 273 yards out to 30 feet before two-putting for birdie.

“Hopefully it can work out this week. Hopefully,” Peter said.

Mike Jr. made five birdies (8, 10, 14, 17 and 18) and one bogey (11).

“It’s nice to have hit some good shots and make some putts. Regardless of what everyone else is doing, I want to give myself a chance going to the last nine holes,” Mike, Jr., said.

Roman, who qualified for match play at the U.S. Junior last week, said he missed just one fairway — the 17th, making his only bogey. Then he rebounded with a birdie at 18.

“Keep doing what I’m doing, hit fairways and greens. That is going to be my mindset for the week,” Roman said “Playing on those courses (at the U.S. Junior) might have been the toughest I’ve ever played in a tournament.”

Carpenter had five birdies (3, 6, 7, 10, 14 and 15) and just one bogey on No. 2.

“The rough is brutal. I’ve never seen the rough like this,” Carpenter said. “They don’t treat the members here this poorly with 6-inch rough. But the greens are perfect.”

Dietrich birdied two of the first three holes he played en route to his opening 3-under 68.

“I was trying to make the smart play and hit the smart shot. For the most part, it worked out,” said Dietrich, a Cheshire native. “It was a very up-and-down round in my opinion, but overall I played really welI.”

Fosdick, a rising sophomore at the University of Virginia, recovered from consecutive bogeys on 4 and 5 to also finish with 68. Fosdick is the reigning two-time Connecticut Amateur champion.

“I’m very happy with shooting 3-under,” Fosdick said. “I know I can go lower than that but to start out, that’s a solid round in a professional event.”; @nhrJoeMorelli

87th Connecticut Open

(at Country Club of Darien, par 71)

First round

Peter Ballo (Silvermine GC), 65; Jackson Roman (Shuttle Meadow CC), 66; Ben Carpenter (CC of Darien), 66; Mike Ballo Jr. (Stamford), 67; Eric Dietrich (Farms CC), 68; Chris Fosdick (Wallingford CC), 68; Alex Beach (Stamford), 69; Pat Langan (Stamford), 69; Peyton Knauf (Oak Hills GC), 69; Connor Belcastro (unattached), 70; Alex Chalk (Bulls Bridge GC), 70; Rasmey Kong (West Haven), 70; Ben James (Great River GC), 70; Greg Reilly (CC of Darien), 70; Eric Hartstein (Stamford), 71; Rich Dowling (unattached), 71; Paul Pastore (Fairview CC), 71; Bobby Gage (Green Woods CC), 71; Frank Bensel (unattached), 72; Max Theodorakis (Ridgewood CC), 72; Geno Giancola (Timberlin GC), 72; Adam Rainaud (CC of New Canaan), 72; Jim Becker (Blue Fox Run GC), 72; Bill Street (Whitney Farms GC), 72; Cody Paladino (Wampanoag CC), 72; Blake Morris (CC of Waterbury), 72; Dylan Newman (Stamford), 72; JD Carrabino (Woodway CC), 72; Brian Williams (unattached), 72; Arthur Ouimet (unattached), 72; Casey Pyne (The Stanwich Club), 72; Brad Jordan (CC of Darien), 72.