Pastore takes one-stroke lead at Connecticut Open

David Pastore of Oak Hills Park Golf Club fired a five under-par 65 Tuesday to take the lead heading into the final round of the 80th Connecticut Open Championship at Rolling Hills Country Club in Wilton.

Pastore, a former Greenwich High standout who played at Virginia, holds a one stroke lead over Adam Rainaud of Black Hall Club, Frank Bensel of Fairfield and Jason Caron of Stamford.

After opening with a one over-par 71 on Monday, Pastore wasted no time charging up the leaderboard. On a day that yielded a plethora of birdies and red numbers, Pastore made a total of six birdies — matched with just one bogey — to fire a round of five under-par 65.

"I'll remember this round for quite a while," said Pastore. "I started on the 10th hole with a two-putt par, and then had eight one-putts in row with four straight birdies and a huge putt on 18 to save par. The putter was working today and that made the difference. I guess I was kind of in the zone. I was just lining up the putts and they were going in."

Pastore will begin his final round looking to become the first amateur since Jeff Hedden to win the Connecticut Open Championship. Hedden won the title in 2008 at Round Hill Club after trailing by one stroke heading into the final round.

Pastore won't be without chasers, as seven players are within three shots of the lead. Three professionals — Rainaud, Bensel and Caron — stand just one shot back and have plenty of experience among them. Bensel won the Connecticut Open in 2009 and 2011, and Caron won the title in 2012.

Among the other players who are within striking distance are brothers Mike and Peter Ballo of Woodway Country Club. Mike, the overnight leader after a two under-par 68 in the opening round, shot an even-par 70 and stands just two strokes back. His brother, Peter, is three strokes off the lead.

The tournament concludes Wednesday, with the leaders teeing off at 10:30 a.m. Live hole-by-hole scoring will be available for all of the leading groups online at ConnecticutOpen.com. Admission to the tournament is free.

This year's starting field of 150 players was trimmed to just 42 competitors following the conclusion of play on Tuesday. Each year, the lowest 40 competitors, plus ties, advance to play the final round of stroke play on the third and final day.

Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Connecticut Open is the only CSGA Championship that is open to both amateurs and professionals. The tournament tests the state's top golfers over three rounds of stroke play and has a total purse of $50,000, with the professional champion capturing a winner's check of $12,500.