Robby Bigley Jr. has been planning for the State Amateur Golf Championship since last September.
That’s when the Pinehaven Country Club member found out that his home course was going to host the event, to be played next month.
That’s also why he felt he had plenty to lose during Wednesday’s local State Am qualifier at Eagle Crest Golf Club. If he failed to qualify, he knew he would have wasted a golden opportunity to play a major championship in his own backyard.
As it turned out, Bigley had nothing to worry about. His even-par 72 easily made him one of 21 qualifiers who will try to bring the State Amateur crown back to the Capital Region for the first time since Jay Gunning won in 1986.
“I felt more pressure trying to qualify today than I will feel playing in the tournament itself,” said Bigley, who will be making his sixth appearance in the State Amateur. “I’ve been thinking about this tournament for a long time, and I’ve been preparing for it. If I couldn’t play in it, that would have been the difficult part. Now, the pressure is off, for me.”
Bigley, a two-time Gazette County Amateur champion, rolled in three birdies to make up for three bogeys. He tied for second with Kyle Armstrong of Guilderland, whose family owns and operates Whispering Pines Golf Club.
Nick Feinberg, a Country Club of Troy member, took medalist honors with a two-under-par 70. He recently graduated from
St. Andrews University in Scotland, and hopes to turn professional by the time the summer ends.
“Last year, I played pretty well coming into the State Amateur, and I putted well during the stroke-play portion. But I didn’t play very well in match play,” said Feinberg, who collected four birdies Wednesday, including three on par-5s.
“Playing in the State Amateur close to home will be great,” he said. “I’ve got guys like Joe Quillinan, Hack [Dave Mooradian] and E.J. Cardish to give me support and some information about the course.”
Among the three players tied at 74 was Eagle Crest owner Bill Paulsen Jr.
“I really hit the ball well today,” Paulsen said. “I hit 15 greens, but the only birdie I made was on the 18th hole.”
Also shooting 74 were Mooradian and Jeb Buchanan, a Shaker High School senior who will play golf at the University of Connecticut next year. He connected for three birdies.
One of the best comebacks of the day belonged to Quillinan.
Quillinan shot a 42 on the front, but rallied with a 33 on the back. The three-time Troy Invitational champion will make his 20th
appearance in the State Amateur. He eagled the fifth hole with a
50-yard wedge shot, and then birdied the 11th, 14th, 16th and 18th.
Four-time Gazette County
Amateur titlist Paul Pratico also qualified with a 75.
“The course played long today. They played it all the way back, but I kept the ball in the short grass,” he said. “The last time I played in the State Amateur was the last time Pinehaven hosted it . I know the course very well, and look forward to playing this year.”
Shenendehowa High School
senior Joe Macaluso, who is headed to Fairfield University next fall, also shot a 75, as did Jon-Michael Socaris of Capital Hills at Albany.
There will be another local qualifier Monday at Ballston Spa Country Club.
Qualfiers — Nick Feinberg 70, Kyle Armstrong 72, Rob Bigley Jr. 72, Dave Mooradian 74, Bill Paulsen Jr. 74, Greg Levings 74, Jeb Buchanan 74, Joe Quillinan Jr. 75, Joe Macaluso 75, Paul Pratico 75, Jeff Pachter 75, Jon-Michael Socaris 75, John Davis 75, Aaron AuBuchon 76, Chris Calogero 76, Tim Flanigan 76, Joe Lanci 76, Andrew Larocque 76, Andrew Weise 76, Eric Snow 76, Chris Barach 76.
Alternates — Mike Wheeler 76, Greg Bennett 76, Matt Horton 76, John Eaton 77, Alex Arrigo 77.
Other top scores — Colin Quillinan 77, Dan Seiter 78, John Bogardus 78, John Palermo 79, Nicholas Carroll 79, Doug Hart 79, Kevin Broderick 79, Matt McCaffrey 79, John Reagan 79, Chuck Bennison 79,
Andrew Gangemi 79.
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