Short game saves Breen

Even pro golfers don’t hit every fairway and green in regulation. That’s why their short games are s

Even pro golfers don’t hit every fairway and green in regulation. That’s why their short games are so important.

Canajoharie Country Club head pro Ian Breen wasn’t having a great ball-striking day, but he kept grinding out pars on the back nine and survived a one-hole playoff with Oneonta Country Club head pro Jeremy Kerr to win the Northeastern New York PGA’s FAM Funds Classic Tuesday at Cobleskill Country Club.

Breen shot a three-over-par 73 in the final round, and finished with a one-over-par 141 in the two-day event. Kerr posted a 72-141.

In the playoff, on the 225-yard, par-3 10th hole, both players missed the green, Breen to the left and Kerr to the right. Breen pitched up to about four feet, and Kerr’s pitch shot landed about 15 feet short of the cup. After Kerr missed his par putt, Breen rolled in the four-footer to win his second major on the

NENYPGA circuit. He is also a former Match Play champion.

The 36-year-old Breen earned $2,000, while Kerr, a Schenec­tady native, took home a check for $1,600.

Defending NENYPGA Player of the Year Peter Gerard of Mill Road Acres, the first-round leader with a 67, shot a 75 in the final round, but was disqualified after signing an incorrect scorecard. Breen, who was keeping Gerard’s score, put him down for a par on the par-4 12th hole. Actually, Gerard missed the green to the right, pitched up to about 12 feet and missed his par putt for a bogey.

Gerard, who almost missed his starting time because of family problems, signed for the wrong score (74-141) when he actually had a 75-142. It was an expensive mistake, as he would have gained a share of third-place money. James Marston of Stockbridge Golf Club and Bob Mucha of Greenock Country Club each finished at 142, and took home $1,150.

Both Breen and Kerr had chances to win the tournament in regul­ation, but they each bogeyed the par-4 18th hole. Breen’s approach shot landed in a bunker. He blasted out to about 15 feet, and missed his par putt.

Kerr’s tee shot landed behind some trees in the right rough, but he got a drop because of some ground under repair. The drop enabled him to hit a high shot over the trees, but his approach shot landed just short of the green, and he failed to get up and down.

Breen was surprised that he was tied for first place after regulation play. He thought Kerr was several shots ahead of him, and that Gerard was also in the mix.

“I started poorly today, he said. “I bogeyed the second and third holes. I wasn’t hitting the ball solid, but I never gave up, and kept grinding some up-and-downs. I didn’t think I was in the tournament to win it, but I kept trying.”

The turning point for Breen may have been a chip-in birdie on the 16th hole.

“That got me going a little,” he said. “But I was really fortunate

today. I didn’t hit the ball solidly all day, and I didn’t think I played well enough to win. Jeremy was playing some excellent golf. I just managed to stay in contention.”

Kerr nearly shot himself out of the tournament with bogeys on the par-5 ninth hole, the par-3 10th and the par-5 11th. He three-putted both the ninth and 11th holes. On No. 11, his second shot landed in the hazard in front of the green. He was lucky to find his ball, and he pitched onto the green about 20 feet away. But he failed to take advantage of his good fortune.

Kerr caught fire with back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th holes. Then, he made a terrific up-and-down from the hazard on the 16th hole, and followed that up with a nifty up-and-down par on the 17th hole, when he nearly chipped in for birdie.

“I knew I was playing pretty well, even with those three bogeys in a row,” said Kerr. “I figured that if I kept grinding away, I could put some pressure on the other players, because with the tough pins, I was sure they were making some bogeys, too.”



Ian Breen (Canajoharie CC) 73-141, $2,000; Jeremy Kerr (Oneonta CC) 72-141, $1,600; Jim Marston (Stockbridge GC)

71-142, $1,150; Bob Mucha (Greenock CC) 72-142, $1,150; Tom Siddon (Massena CC) 73-143, $650; Brian Lowe (Windham CC)

70-143, $650; Bob Meheran (Cobleskill G&CC) 71-144, $100; Anders Matson (Sar­atoga National) 74-144, $100; Mark Fretto (Orchard Creek) 71-147; Rick Pohle (Taconic GC) 71-147; Steve Vatter (Capital Hills) 74-147; Marc Levesque (Columbia G&CC) 76-148; Scott Berliner (Shaker Ridge CC) 78-148; Tom Oppedisano (Orchard Creek) 79-149; Josh Hillman (Berkshire Hills CC) 78-149; Paul Jaycox (Onteora) 73-150; John Duncan (Alapaha) 77-151; Kevin Bennison (Pinehaven CC) 80-152; Keith Sprenger (Catskill CC) 77-152; Brian Damon (Schen­ectady Municipal) 80-155; Sean Madden (Mohawk GC) 80-160; Peter Gerard (Mill Road Acres) 75-DQ.

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