By Bruce Berlet

GROTON, Conn. (July 11, 2023) – Brad Adamonis personified perseverance before the Connecticut Senior Open at weather-plagued Shennecossett Golf Course.

Adamonis, a Rhode Island native, was visiting from Florida with several family members and hoped he would be able to compete in the major senior event in Connecticut for the first time. He saw the course for the first time during a practice round Saturday, arrived at the club at 6:30 a.m. Monday and waited for six hours, mostly in rain that delayed play two hours, before officially learning he would be the last alternate to tee it up in the 144-man field.

Thirty minutes later, Adamonis quickly found the deceptively difficult course to his liking, shooting a 3-under-par 68 to trail Frank Bensel by a stroke. In the final round Tuesday, he and Bensel battled neck-and-neck in gusting winds throughout the day in the final threesome, with Adamonis making a two-putt birdie 4 on the 18th hole for a 36-hole total of 5-under 137, one better than Bensel.

“I just tried to go off experience that I had in the game,” Adamonis said of his lack of knowledge of the Shennecossett course. “I wasn’t hitting it particularly well, but I scrambled well, which is what my father (Dave) always said was so important.”

His father taught Brad the game and was coach of the Division II national powerhouse Johnson & Wales golf team that won several national championships. Dave also was always part of Brad’s gallery in the five Travelers Championships that he played at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell.

“I led after the first round in 2009 and finished sixth,” Adamonis said.

A year earlier, Adamonis nearly won the John Deere Classic during his five years on the PGA Tour.

“Had a 20-footer for birdie on the hole to win but missed,” Adamonis said with smile.

Adamonis, who turned 50 on Jan. 16, and Bensel, 55, appeared as if they might be headed to playoff for the $4,000 first prize ($2,800 for second) most of the day. Due to rain delays, two of the 144 players couldn’t finish the first round Monday, so they completed their 18 holes Tuesday morning. Following that, 76 players, including 26 amateurs, made the cut at 75. Bensel led after the first round thanks to an eagle 3 on the 18th hole for 67, one better than Adamonis, Kirk Hanefeld, Artie Wilson and amateur Bill Hermanson.

Bensel doubled his advantage when he holed a 20-foot chip for birdie at No. 1, but Adamonis got within a stroke thanks to a birdie at No. 2 and tied after a birdie 4 at No. 5. Both made birdie 4 at the par-5 eighth hole, and a par at No. 9 gave Adamonis a 3-under 33 at the turn.

Adamonis made a Houdini par at the 10th hole, where he sliced his drive under a tree, punched his second shot to 75 yards short of the green, wedged to 15 feet and made the putt. Bensel, meanwhile, missed a 12-foot putt for birdie.

Adamonis nearly made a memorable par at the difficult par-4 14th hole after hitting his drive against a mound in a bunker. But he missed a 20-foot putt for par, and Bensel was even when he made a routine par.

But Bensel dropped a shot back again on the par-3 15th hole where he three-putted from 30 feet, missing a 4-footer for par. Both made pars at the 16th and 17th holes to set up the decisive 18th. Adamonis hit a drive, and wedge from 163 yards downwind to 35 feet, setting up his closing birdie. Bensel’s drive stopped 20 feet from out of bounds in the left rough, and his wedge second shot off of hardpan hit the green but bounded over into a bunker. He blasted to 10 feet but couldn’t convert for a tying birdie.

“I played pretty well, kept the ball in play all the way,” said Bensel, the assistant pro at Century CC in Purchase, N.Y., who shares time in Jupiter, Fla. “It was tougher today with the wind blowing. I scrambled well but couldn’t convert enough birdie chances. But it was great fun.”

Bensel has won dozens of local, regional and national tournaments, including the Connecticut Open, which he will try to win for a record-tying fourth time July 24-26 at Shuttle Meadow CC in Kensington. And though he didn’t win this time, Bensel enjoyed having 13-year-old son Hagen, named after legendary Walter Hagen, follow him for two days and his wife and two other children greet him after he finished.

Kirk Hanefeld of Port St. Lucie, Fla., finished third at 139.

Billy Downes (Longmeadow, Mass.), Fran Quinn (Holden, Mass.), Charlie Blanchard (Warwick, RI), Artie Wilson (West Warwick, RI), and David Jones (Norwich, Conn.) all shot 141 and tied for fourth. Jones was the Connecticut Senior Open low amateur for the fifth time.

Eric Morrison accepted the Eric Morrison Award on behalf of Shennecossett’s maintenance crew.

The tournament was sponsored by Mohegan Sun and the PGA Tour’s Korn Ferry Tour.

Final results

 1    Brad Adamonis          Ponte Vedra, FL         68-69–137 -5

 2    Frank Bensel           Jupiter, FL             67-71–138 -4

 3    Kirk Hanefeld          Port St. Lucie, FL      68-71–139 -3

 T4   Francis Quinn          Holden, MA              72-69–141 -1

 T4   Billy Downes           Longmeadow, MA          72-69–141 -1

 T4   David Jones (a)        Norwich, CT             69-72–141 -1

 T4   Charlie Blanchard      Warwick, RI             70-71–141 -1

 T4   Artie Wilson           West Warwick, RI        68-73–141 -1

 T9   Rick Malafronte (a)    Branford, CT            70-72–142 E

 T9   Robert Rittberger      Garden City, NY         69-73–142 E

 T11  Robert Tramonti        North Kingstown, RI     74-69–143 +1

 T11  Charlie Bolling        Glen Cove, NY           70-73–143 +1

 T13  Shelby Lowman          Ridgefield, CT          74-70–144 +2

 T13  John Bushka            Stratford, CT           74-70–144 +2

 T13  Kevin Foster (a)       Simsbury, CT            73-71–144 +2

 T13  Chris Toulson          Chappaqua, NY           72-72–144 +2

 T13  James Abbott (a)       Higganum, CT            70-74–144 +2

 T13  John Gilmartin (a)     Andover, MA             70-74–144 +2

 T13  Bill Hermanson (a)     East Lyme, CT           68-76–144 +2

 T20  Jan Wivestad           Watertown, CT           72-73–145 +3

 T20  Eric Egloff            Arnold, MD              71-74–145 +3

 T20  Marty Stanovich        Tamarac, FL             71-74–145 +3

 T20  Bob Flanagan           Lawrenceville, GA       71-74–145 +3

 T20  Greg Farland           Sturbridge, MA          71-74–145 +3

 T20  Fran Marrello          Plymouth, CT            71-74–145 +3

 T20  Jason Zaniewski (a)    Woodbury, CT            70-75–145 +3

 T27  Bobby Gage             Lake Worth, FL          72-74–146 +4

 T27  Mike Martin            Ansonia, CT             70-76–146 +4

 T29  Jack Kearney (a)       Peachtree City, GA      75-72–147 +5

 T29  Bart McCarthy          Ludlow, MA              75-72–147 +5

 T29  Gerard Courville       Stratford, CT           75-72–147 +5

 T29  Jeff Dantas            Swansea, MA             74-73–147 +5

 T29  Darrell Kestner        Glen Cove, NY           74-73–147 +5

 T29  Dave Fusco             Goshen, NY              74-73–147 +5

 T29  Jim Becker             Bloomfield, CT          74-73–147 +5

 T29  John Manning           Tarrytown, NY           73-74–147 +5

 T29  Bart Weissman (a)      Stamford, CT            73-74–147 +5

 T29  Jim Smoot              Huntington, NY          73-74–147 +5

 T29  Paul Lejeune           Succasunna, NJ          73-74–147 +5

 T29  Richard Stevens (a)    Middlebury, CT          72-75–147 +5

 T29  William Wallis         New Haven, CT           72-75–147 +5

 T29  Shaun Powers           Greenwich, CT           72-75–147 +5

 T29  Jack McConachie        Plainville, CT          72-75–147 +5

 T29  Alan Sorensen          Bakersfield, CA         71-76–147 +5

 T29  Andy Drohen (a)        Granville, MA           70-77–147 +5

 T46  Michael Serio (a)      Madison, CT             71-77–148 +6

 T46  Jeff Warne             Sag Harbor, NY          71-77–148 +6

 T46  Bill Van Orman         Watkinsville, GA        71-77–148 +6

 T46  Bryan McAllister (a)   Natick, MA              70-78–148 +6

 T50  John Schmoll           Greenwich, CT           75-74–149 +7

 T50  Michael Diffley        Pelham, NY              74-75–149 +7

 T50  Mal Galletta           Greenwich, CT           71-78–149 +7

 T53  Brett Franklin (a)     West Hartford, CT       75-75–150 +8

 T53  Brian Foley (a)        Longmeadow, MA          74-76–150 +8

 T53  Mark Vassalotti (a)    Stamford, CT            74-76–150 +8

 56   Dennis Foster          Palm Desert, CA         75-76–151 +9

 T57  David Baker (a)        Branford, CT            74-78–152 +10

 T57  Jim Romaniello (a)     Stamford, CT            74-78–152 +10

 T57  Archie Cart            Old Saybrook, CT        74-78–152 +10

 T57  David Szewczul (a)     Farmington, CT          73-79–152 +10

 T61  Mark Vasington (a)     West Hartford, CT       74-79–153 +11

 T61  Joe Cordani            Simsbury, CT            71-82–153 +11

 T63  Jim MacDonald          Middleburg, FL          75-79–154 +12

 T63  Philip Krick Jr        Groton, CT              75-79–154 +12

 T63  James McCann           New Rochelle, NY        74-80–154 +12

 T63  Jeff DelRosso          Cheshire, CT            73-81–154 +12

 67   Dave Giacondino        Wallingford, CT         75-80–155 +13

 T68  John Vitale            Watertown, CT           75-81–156 +14

 T68  Kris Lang (a)          West Hartford, CT       74-82–156 +14

 70   Vincent Scarpetta (a)  Moosic, PA              75-82–157 +15

 71   Eric Ashworth (a)      Orange, CT              75-83–158 +16

 72   Kerry Johnston         Indio, CA               75-84–159 +17

 73   Mark Pandolfi (a)      West Suffield, CT       74-86–160 +18

 74   Peter Walsh (a)        North Kingstown, RI     73-90–163 +21

 75   Bruce Kraczkowsky (a)  Granby, CT              75-90–165 +23