Brian Keiser defends his title and sets his sights on a Travelers Championship exemption


May 19, 2021

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – As if a defending champion needed any more incentive to reclaim a title, Brian Keiser sure has it.

Last year, Keiser won the 89th edition of the Connecticut PGA Championship, firing an even par, 36-hole total 140 at Wintonbury Hills Golf Course. In any other year, this win would have also provided him with an exemption into the Travelers Championship. It wasn’t meant to be, however, as prior to the championship the PGA TOUR suspended this exemption due to the TOUR’s late start in the pandemic season that reduced playing opportunities for its members.

This year, the exemption has returned.

Keiser will be among the 60 PGA Professionals competing next Monday and Tuesday at Wampanoag Country Club, which will be hosting the Connecticut PGA Championship for the sixth time. The head professional at Longmeadow Country Club will be facing stiff competition not only for the title and to reclaim the Hartford Times Trophy, but also to be the lowest scoring PGA of America member from the Connecticut Section to be awarded the 2021 Travelers Championship exemption.

“It’s always a nice opportunity to say you’re a defending champion,” Keiser said while heaping praise on host professional Donny Kirkpatrick and the crew at Wampanoag for their preparedness. “I’m excited to defend. I realize it’s been over a decade since a defending champion has retained the title in this championship. I’m looking forward to the challenge and playing next week at Wampanoag. I know that the course will be in excellent condition and be well presented for this championship.”

Wampanoag and the Connecticut PGA Championship have a storied history. In 1929, the very first of this championship was hosted by Wampanoag and it is the oldest and longest running professional golf tournament in the State of Connecticut. Maurice Kearney emerged victorious in the inaugural event firing rounds of 81 and 76 for a 36-hole 157 total and a two-shot margin of victory over Peter Manning and Alex Simpson. The set of golf clubs that Kearney used to win are on display in the Section office in South Glastonbury.

The championship was staged again at Wampanoag in 1946, 1963, 1998, and 2008, when Kevin Giancola won tying the 54-hole championship scoring record of 9-under par 207 shared by Dennis Coscina (Cliffside C.C. – 1980) and Jim St. Pierre (Longmeadow C.C. – 2006).

According to host PGA Professional Donny Kirkpatrick the par 72, 6,610 yard, Donald Ross designed Wampanoag course is expected to be in pristine condition and will serve as a fair test for all the competing PGA Professionals.

“With all that has happened to us this past year we are honored and grateful to have the opportunity to showcase our Donald Ross course and host an amazing group of golf professionals,” Kirkpatrick said.  “We look forward to showcasing our challenging yet enjoyable course this coming week.”

This year’s field of competitors includes three other former champions; 2020 Connecticut Section Player of the Year Chris Tallman (2019) of The Orchards, PGA Life Member Fran Marrello (2001, 2009), and Tashua Knoll’s Mike Martin, who won his lone title at Wampanoag in 1998.

“We’re delighted to have the Travelers Championship exemption reinstituted so one of our members has the opportunity to compete alongside the great field of PGA TOUR players at TPC River Highlands in June,” said Dennis Dungee, Tournament Director for the Connecticut Section.  “We look forward to a competitive event and crowning a great champion as we celebrate the 90th Connecticut PGA Championship back at Wampanoag.”

The Championship is sponsored by Club Car, Mohegan Sun, Jack Jolly, and the PGA TOUR. The winner will receive $4,000 from the $20,000 tournament prize purse. The championship is open to all PGA members in good standing regardless of PGA section affiliation and all Connecticut Section employed associates.

The first round of the 36-hole Stroke Play championship gets underway at 8:00 AM on Monday. Players will be re-paired for Tuesday’s final round with the leaders going off last.

The entire list of competitors is listed below and includes 46 PGA Professionals from Connecticut; 13 from Massachusetts; and one (1) from New York:

First Name Last Name Affiliation
Jim Alexander Great River Golf Club
E.J. Altobello Springfield Country Club
Alexander Bardani The Golf Club at Oxford Greens
Marc Bayram Timberlin Golf Club
Jim Bedus PGA Life Member
Dan Benedetti Springfield Country Club
Robert Bigonette H. Smith Richardson Golf Course
Joseph Carlone Green Woods Country Club
Glenn Carlson Torrington Country Club
Bryan Chalifoux Pine Orchard Yacht & Country Club
Dave Cook Pomperaug Golf Course
Joe Cordani Hop Meadow Country Club
Adam D’Amario Indian Hill Country Club
Ron Dellostritto Fairways Golf Range and Pro Shop
Jeff DelRosso Prospect Golf
Rick Fleury The Ledges Golf Club
Eric Flood The Farms Country Club
Tim Gavronski Shuttle Meadow Country Club
Dave Giacondino Tradition Golf Club at Wallingford
Jason Gobleck Golf Center at Lyman Orchards
Jordan Gosler Manchester Country Club
Mike Gramelis PGA Life Member
Tom Halsted Sharon Country Club
Jim Hanlon The Farms Country Club
Brian Huber Golf Club of Avon
Brian Hussey Rock Ridge Country Club
Mark Ingala Bull’s Bridge Golf Club
Michael Jezierski Raceway Golf Club
Brian Keiser Longmeadow Country Club
Donny Kirkpatrick Wampanoag Country Club
C.J. Konkowski Hartford Golf Club
Philip Krick Mohegan Sun Golf Club
Jason Loomis Great River Golf Club
Kevin Mahaffy Pequabuck Golf Club
Fran Marrello PGA Life Member
Mike Martin Tashua Knolls Golf Course
Bart McCarthy Oak Ridge Golf Club
Joe Mentz Mohegan Sun Golf Club
Bob Mucha Edgewood Golf Course
Bryan Nixon Hop Brook Golf Club
Ted Perez East Mountain Country Club
Ronnie Pfaefflin Norfolk Country Club
Bobby Powell The First Tee of Connecticut
Pete Seaman Watertown Golf Club
Nicholas Segaline Wampanoag Country Club
Zac Stennett Twin Hills Country Club
William Street Whitney Farms Golf Club
Mike Strong TPC River Highlands
Sean Sweitzer Madison Country Club
Christopher Tallman Orchards Golf Club
Nicholas Tamburini The Ranch Golf Club
Milton Torres Crestview Country Club
Bryan Truszkowski Candlewood Lake Club
John Vitale GolfTEC – West Hartford
Glen Walden Beekman Golf Club
William Wallis New Haven Country Club
Jan Wivestad Crestbrook Park Golf Course
David Wright Cold Spring Country Club