Jim Mueller has won the Gazette Men’s County Amateur Golf Championship five times, but hasn’t taken home the first-place trophy since 1996.
“It’s been a while,” Mueller said. “Believe me, people have been giving me crap about it. Mainly my wife.”
Today, the 49-year-old Mueller will have a chance to end the drought.
Mueller birdied each of the
final three holes Saturday to finish with a three-under-par 69 and take a one-shot lead after two rounds of the Gazette County Am at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
Mueller had two-day total of four-under-par 140. Paul Pratico is alone in second at three-under-par 141 after shooting a 71.
For the most part, Mueller did not have a spectacular round.
“I really did not hit the ball extremely well,” he said. “But I hit it well the last thee holes.”
The birdies came on the par-5 16th, par-3 17th and par-4 18th.
“I scrambled fairly well out there,” Mueller said. “I hit some real bad irons. I three-putted the eighth hole for a bogey. I hit it into the trees on 12 and chipped out. I missed a short one there for bogey. Everything else was just pars.
“All of a sudden, I clicked again [on the final three holes]. That was a nice finish.”
Pratico had six birdies, but three bogeys and one double bogey hurt him.
“I was hitting the ball well,” Pratico said. “I had a chance to shoot a middle-60s round, but I let it get away with a few miscues. But the course played a little easier today. The pins were a little more accessible.”
Joining Mueller and Pratico in today’s final group will be Robby Bigley Jr. Bigley had a two-under-par 70, and is three shots in back of Mueller.
The key hole in Bigley’s round was the 16th, where he scored an eagle. He also birdied 17, and just missed a 69 when his birdie putt on 18 rolled past the hole.
“I finished strong,” Bigley said. “I made a couple of bogeys on the back nine, on 11 and 13. I’m sitting at two-over for the day, and I said, ‘I better get going.’ ”
Tom Salmon is also three shots off the lead after firing a two-under-par 70. He had a great back nine, coming in at four-under-par 32.
“I didn’t have a very good front nine,” Salmon said. “I birdied two. After that, it didn’t go very well. Then I got it going on the back. I birdied 11. Twelve, I probably should have birdied, but I hit it short of the green and didn’t make a very good chip. But then I made nice birdie putts on 13 and 14, pretty long ones.
“I just got going on the back.”
Ed Chylinski, who was tied with Pratico for the lead after the first round, shot a 76 and is six shots off the pace.
Chris Cross posted the first sub-70 round of the tournament, firing a three-under-par 69 before Mueller finished his round for a two-day
total of 144, putting him in contention for the title.
Cross made five birdies during his round.
“Usually, when I play in tournaments, the first day I get over the nerves and get back to a normal game,” Cross said. “I made a lot of birdies [Saturday]. I was missing [birdies Friday].”
Jim Mueller 71-69—140
Paul Pratico 70-71—141
Robby Bigley Jr. 73-70—143
Tom Salmon 73-70—143
Chris Cross 75-69—144
Chad Stoffer 71-74—145
Ed Chylinski 70-76—146
Mike Trunzo 74-73—147
Ben Bates 76-71—147
Bryan Barach 71-77—148
Mike Pollock 74-74—148
Chris Barach 75-73—148
Jerry Brescia 73-75—148
Harry Morgan 74-74—148
Brandon Haase 75-73—148
Jack Stopera 76-72—148
Chris Driscoll 75-75—150
Bill Moll 74-76—150
Bill Sweet 74-77—151
Mike Bayus 76-75—151
Tony Cristello 76-75—151
Nick Longo 77-74—151
Bob Cooper 78-73—151
Did not qualify
Todd Czepiel 73-79—152
Rob Bigley Sr. 76-76—152
John Mendrys 77-75—152
Mike Salvatore 74-79—153
Todd Trepess 72-82—154
Jim Gardy 77-77—154
Al Nebolini 77-77—154
Darren Hart 74-81—155
Jim Fazio 76-80—156
Rit Cimmino 77-79—156
Jay Taub 77-79—156
Woody Winslow 77-79—156
Glenn Stopera 78-78—156
Mike Stopera 78-78—156
Mario Marino 76-81—157
Peter Andrikopoulos 77-81—158
Jay Singh 77-83—160
Joe Cimmino 76-88—164
Neil Golub 76-91—167
7:05 a.m. — Bill Sweet, Tony Cristello.
7:15 a.m. — Mike Bayus, Nick Longo.
7:25 a.m. — Bill Moll, Chris Driscoll, Bryan Barach.
7:35 a.m. — Harry Morgan, Mike Pollock, Jerry Brescia.
7:55 a.m. — Chris Barach, Brandon Haase, Jack Stopera.
8:05 a.m. — Ben Bates, Mike Trunzo, Ed Chylinski.
8:15 a.m. — Chad Stoffer, Chris Cross, Tom Salmon.
8:25 a.m. — Robby Bigley Jr., Paul Pratico, Jim Mueller.
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