FITZSIMMONS & BENNETT LEAD
Story and photos by Bob Weiner
email@example.com or @BobWeiner58 on Twitter
SCHENECTADY – Not every golfer is a mudder. It requires extreme patience, preparedness and a positive attitude to play in soggy conditions. And this spring in the Capital Area, you’ve needed all three of those “p-words.”
Former pro Joe Fitzsimmons and Shaker Ridge CC standout Greg Bennett didn’t mind getting soaked as long as their scorecards kept dry during the opening round of the Schenectady Classic.
Fitzimmons and Bennett each posted 71 (-1) Friday at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course to lead former Troy Invitational winner Jim Welch of Olde Kinderhook by a shot headed into Saturday’s second round.
Heavy rain quickly created soggy conditions and eventually caused a delay of an hour and 20 minutes for more than a third of the field. It rained so hard that the new women’s division was rained out of its first round and will now play a single-day event Saturday.
This is the second time that the 43-year-old Bennett, a Watervliet resident, was eligible to play in this tournament. Before last year, only Schenectady County residents could play.
“It wasn’t easy out there,” Bennett said. “My goal was just hitting as many greens in regulation as I could. I had a lot of opportunities for birdies. I think the biggest thing was trying to keep dry and focused.”
Bennett, playing in the first group of the day, birdied the second, seventh, 12th and 16th holes. He had three bogeys.
Fitzsimmons, 33, is a former local club pro who spent 10 years as an assistant pro at Olde Kinderhook, Mohawk Golf Club and Wolferts Roost Country Club. He just recently got his amateur status back.
“It was a difficult round,” he said. “It rained hard all day on us. It was a grind the entire day. The key was keeping your focus on every shot. You had to deal with the conditions and accept them. There is no doubt that it takes a lot of patience to play well on a day like this.”
Fitzsimmons birdied the second, ninth and 16th holes to offset bogeys on the 11th and 13th holes.
OTHERS MUDDLING ALONG
Welch, a former CRAGA Stroke Play champion who also has several TCGA Match Play crowns, an Eagle Crest Shootout championship and a NYS Mid-Amateur crown to his credit, said he played conservatively and was happy to be in the mix at the top of the leaderboard.
Lance Hope, who lost in a playoff to winner Mike Wheeler last year, shot a 73. He said the entire round was extremely challenging. “Trying to stay dry was what it was all about,” he said. “It was raining hard the entire back nine for us after having some intermittent rain on the front nine.” Hope birdied the second and 12th holes to keep his round going.
Chad Stoffer, a two-time Tri-County Golf Association Match Play champion from Town of Colonie GC, Shaker Ridge CC assistant groundskeeper Todd Czepiel and Justin Deitz of The Edison Club each shot 74. Mike Carroll, a Gazette Senior County Amateur winner, and Rob Bigley Jr., a three-time Gazette County Amateur champ, each shot 75.
71: Greg Bennett, Joe Fitzimmons
72: Jim Welch
73: Lance Hope
74: Chad Stoffer, Justin Deitz, Todd Czepiel
75: Mike Carroll, Rob Bigley Jr.
76: Glenn Stopera
77: Brandon Haase, Jim Mueller, Seth Adams
78: Ben Bates, Mike Dwyer, Mike Wheeler
79: Bob Cooper, Jay Taub, Joe Cimmino
80: Ed Chylinski, Kyle Adams
81: Aaron Simone, Greg Stopera, Paul Pratico, Tom Salmon
82: Alex Olbrych, Joe Plantz,
83: Andy Bennett, Chris Gilbert, Connor Adams, Joshua Powers, Marcus Griffin
84: Carl Gilbert, Ron Cohen
85: Jerry Brescia, Rick Lackey, Shaun Miller, Wyatt Pisarski
86: Chris DiCocco, Jeff Barringer, Tim Bean
87: Dan Giovannangelo
88: Brian Burke, Dave DeMarco, Mark Chylinski
90: Mike Bayus
91: Calvin Kroll, Joe Genovesi
93: Michael Crawford
95: Robert Alheim
96: Darren Riccio, Logan Kerr, Paul Carnivale
99: Ben Gabriele Jr., Craig Schoonmaker
106: Peter Maioriello
WD: Brandon Alois, Don Dobbs, Jim Follain, Kenny Hall, Mario Marino, Mike DiGiloramo, Peter Andrikopoulos