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 Posted by on 12/30/2017  Events, Featured
Dec 302017
 

Bob Weiner

TOP-10 STORIES OF 2017
By Bob Weiner

A remarkable up-“roar”-ious shot is produced on the national stage; a bizarre ending allows a familiar face to grab a victory in a long-running tournament; a new junior golf organization steps up to the plate; a talented club pro continues to dominate.

These are just a few of the top Capital Area golf stories in 2017. It was quite a season on the links. Here’s one golf scribe’s top-10 list.

#10: FIRST TEE DRIVE

The First Tee DRIVE Junior Golf Alliance of New York officially kicks off its programs, including several golf clinics at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course and Mohawk Golf Club, which is named the new organization’s host club for special events.

The local chapter of the popular national First Tee program helps teens from all walks of life by introducing them to values like integrity, respect and perseverance, which are inherent in golf.

 

Mary Sicard of Queensbury repeats as the NYS Women’s Senior Champ. Photo: NYSGA.

#9: SICARD SUCCESS x2

Mary Sicard, a regular competitor in Capital Area women’s events, won her second consecutive New York State Senior Women’s Amateur championship. Sicard, the only local competitor to win a statewide title in 2017, plays out of Queensbury Country Club.

 

 

 

 

Another trophy for the case. Nancy Kroll gets her name on the NEWGA Championship for a 6th time.

#8: KROLL KEEPS ROLLING

Schenectady’s Nancy Kroll won her sixth Northeastern Women’s Golf Association Championship at Schuyler Meadows Club. The local teacher also won the women’s division of the Schenectady Classic at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.

 

 

 

Dan Russo

Ron Philo, Jr. (Copyright USGA)

#7: SENIOR SUCCESS

Two Capital Area natives, Dan Russo of Hagaman and Ron Philo Jr. of Scotia, qualified for the U.S. Senior Open. Russo, who competes at Schuyler Meadows Club, also qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur. He now has qualified for 11 USGA Championships. Philo is a former winner of the Professional National Championship and recently was named the Director of Golf and Golf Instruction at Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

 

Jim Mueller

#6: MUELLER’S GREAT 8

Jim Mueller of Altamont won his unprecedented eighth Schenectady Classic by edging Lance Hope on the second playoff hole at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. Hope, who also lost in a playoff in the 2016 Schenectady Classic, thought he had earned some revenge by winning in regulation, but he signed an incorrect scorecard, forcing another playoff. Mueller birdied the second extra hole.

 

Joe Fitzsimmons of Latham

#5: FITZSIMMONS WINS CRAGA

Colonie police officer Joe Fitzsimmons, a former assistant pro at several local courses, earned his first Capital Area major championship in the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association’s Stroke Play Championship at Schuyler Meadows Club.

 

 

 

Laura Diaz (AP Photo)

#4: DIAZ RETURNS TO LPGA

Scotia-native Laura Diaz, a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour, returned from a year’s layoff to compete and cash in several LPGA events. Diaz broke her leg in 2016 and reduced her playing schedule to devote more time to her family. Diaz is the sister of Ron Philo Jr. and the daughter of longtime local club pro Ron Philo Sr.

 

 

Bryan Bigley is playing again on the Web.com Tour. Photo: PGA Tour.

#3: BIGLEY IS BACK

Schalmont High School and Siena College graduate Bryan Bigley secures his Web.com Tour card for the 2018 season by finishing T30 at the Web.com Tour Q-School in Chandler, AZ. Bigley, 33, is guaranteed full playing privileges for at least the first eight events of the season.

 

 

Hiland GC asst. pro Scott Berliner

#2: BERLINER IN 7TH HEAVEN

Scott Berliner, an assistant pro at Hiland Golf Club in Queensbury and an assistant coach for the Skidmore College golf team, won his seventh consecutive Northeastern New York PGA Stroke Play Championship en route to his seventh section Player of the Year award.

 

2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett hands Kennedy Swedick her chipping trophy on Sunday, April 2. Photo: Getty Images.

Kennedy Swedick chips during the Girls 10-11 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club, Sunday, April 2, 2017. Photo: DCP.

Kennedy Swedick just after she chipped in at the Drive, Chip & Putt. Photo: Getty Images.

#1: SWEET SWEDICK’S CHIP-IN

Voorheesville’s Kennedy Swedick finished seventh in the 10-11 age division of the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship at Augusta National the week of the Masters.

Swedick holed out a chip shot on national television which prompted Golf Channel’s Rich Lerner to quip: “the first Augusta roar of the week.” She was the second consecutive Capital Area contestant to compete at the national Drive, Chip & Putt competition.

Nicole Criscone of Clifton Park was the local rep in 2016.