SCHENECTADY CLASSIC: DAY 2
Story and Photos by Bob Weiner
SCHENECTADY – Many of the talented contenders in the annual Schenectady Classic have been knocking on the championship door for many years. One busted through a long time ago, and he might be the most dangerous of all.
Lance Hope put himself in position to wipe away the memory of his playoff loss to Mike Wheeler last season by shooting a 70 (-1) Saturday at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course and securing a one-shot lead over two others trying for their first title. But seven-time winner Jim Mueller is only three shots back, and few area players can close here like the 58-year-old former postal worker who plays out of Orchard Creek.
Hope has a two-day total of 143 and will be paired with former local pro Joe Fitzsimmons (73-144) and two-time Tri-County Golf Association Match Play champion Chad Stoffer (70-144), who has been the runner-up at the former Gazette County Amateur numerous times.
Mueller (69-146), who also has won the last three Gazette Senior County Amateur titles, is lurking and will be playing in the next-to-last group with first-round co-leader Greg Bennett (75-146) from Shaker Ridge CC and Shaker Ridge CC assistant greens superintendent Todd Czepiel (75-149).
In the new women’s division, shortened from two rounds to one because of heavy rain Friday, Nancy Kroll of Pinehaven Country Club posted a 77 to defeat Mary Ellen Burt of Mohawk Golf Club (83) by six strokes. Burt is the head women’s golf coach at Union College.
HOPE WANTS TITLE
“My putter wasn’t working today, but I my ball-striking was,” Hope said. “I couldn’t make as many birdie putts was I should have. I could have shot a 67 today. I hit 15 of 18 greens.”
Hope, a self-taught Muni regular, said he loves his position. “It’s a good place to be. My plan is to make a lot of putts [Sunday],” he said.
Like Hope, Stoffer thought he didn’t capitalize on his many birdie chances. “I thought I could have a 66 today,” he said. “I missed a lot of birdie tries, including a 2 ½ – footer on the 15th hole. But I’m not complaining. I played well. I’ve been in contention a lot of times over the years. It won’t be anything new for me.”
Fitzsimmons, an assistant pro for 10 years before getting his amateur status back this year, rolled in four birdies before suffering three straight bogeys on the back nine. “I was feeling good there for a while,” he said. “Those bogeys on 14, 15 and 16 really hurt. But I’m going to regroup. There are a lot of guys on the leaderboard who can win this.”
Bennett, who shot a 71 on Friday, had it going once again on the front nine Saturday and was three-under-par after holing out for an eagle on the par-4 fourth hole and adding a birdie on the seventh, but he faltered on the back nine for a 75. He said he still feels he has a good shot at winning.
Perhaps the most dangerous player on the leaderboard is the 58-year-old Mueller, who was hoping to go low and did. “That was the idea, to shoot low and get back in this,” he said. “I only missed three greens, and not by much. Yesterday (Friday), I couldn’t hit an iron shot to save my life. Today, it was totally different. I’m hitting the ball very well. We will see what happens.”
Mueller birdied the first, fourth, ninth and 14th holes. His only bogey was on the 13th hole.
KROLL IN CONTROL
In the women’s division, Kroll, a former New York State Women’s Senior Amateur and Northeastern Women’s Golf Association champion, birdied the second and 17th holes, but her biggest shot of the day was a par-saving 60-foot putt after hitting her tee shot into the water on the 16th hole.
“I’m very happy to win the first Schenectady Classic for women,” she said. “With so many better-ball tournaments here, I was hoping to get another individual medal-play tournament to help me get ready for the NYS Women’s Amateur this summer.” The State Women’s Amateur is set for July 12-14 at Schuyler Meadows.
MEN (Par 72-144)
143 (-1): Lance Hope 73-70
144 (E): Chad Stoffer 74-70, Joe Fitzsimmons 71-73
146 (+2): Greg Bennett 71-75, Jim Mueller 77-69
149 (+5): Todd Czepiel 74-75
150 (+6): Mike Carroll 75-75, Justin Deitz 74-76
151 (+7): Jim Welch 72-79
152 (+8): Kyle Adams 80-72, Mike Wheeler 78-74
154 (+10): Ed Chylinski 80-74, Ben Bates 78-76
156 (+12): Paul Pratico 81-75
157 (+13): Mike Stopera 83-74, Rob Bigley Jr. 75-82
158 (+14): Seth Adams 77-81, Bob Cooper 79-79
159 (+15) Glenn Stopera 76-83, Brandon Haase 77-82, Tom Salmon 81-78, Mike Dwyer 78-81, Aaron Simone 81-78
Missed the Cut
Ron Cohen 84-76-160, Chris Gilbert 83-78-161, Wyatt Pisarski 85-76-161, Greg Stopera 81-80-161, Joe Cimmino 79-82-161, Brian Burke 88-74-162, Tim Bean 86-78-164, Joshua Powers 83-81-164, Jay Taub 79-86-165, Jerry Brescia 85-80-165, Joe Plantz 82-83-165, Connor Adams 83-83-166, Andy Bennett 83-84-167, Mark Chylinski 88-80-168, Dan Giovannangelo 87-82-169, Carl Gilbert 84-85-169, Dave DeMarco 88-82-170, Marcus Griffin 83-89-172, Jeff Barringer 86-86-172, Joe Genovesi 91-82-173, Shaun Miller 85-89-174, Chris DiCocco 86-88-174, Paul Carnivale 96-82-178, Ben Gabriele Jr. 99-81-180, Mike Crawford 93-89-182, Mike Bayus 90-93-183, Logan Kerr 96-87-183, Craig Schoonmaker 99-85-184, Rick Lackey 85-101-186, Bob Alheim Jr. 95-97-192, Darren Riccio 96-100-196, Peter Maioriello 106-93-199
WD: Alex Olbrych, Calvin Kroll
77: Nancy Kroll
83: Mary Ellen Burt
85: Anne Poulin
93: Cherie Bramley
98: Carol Aiello