Nearly 50 Capital Region golfers in a field of more than 150 will attempt to win the Ganson Depew Cup at this week’s New York State Amateur Golf Championship, which begins today at Pinehaven Country Club.
Qualifying will be held today and Wednesday, with the low 32 players advancing to match play. Two rounds of match play will be contested on both Thursday and Friday, with the 36-hole finals set for Saturday.
The last local player to win the State Am was former Town of Colonie Golf Course standout Jay Gunning in 1986. Current Champions Tour members Jeff Sluman (1978) and Joey Sindelar (1980) are former State Amateur titlists, and Sindelar’s son, Jamison, is in this week’s field.
John Dutchie of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course in Cornell is the defending champion. He won last year’s event at 18 years of age, and will begin his sophomore year at Arkansas State University in the fall.
According to five-time Gazette County Amateur champ Paul Pratico, a former pro, the youngsters in the field have a big advantage over the “veterans.”
“There are really some good college and high school players in the field. Many of them play every day. Their games will be sharp. Plus, some of us older guys have 30 years on them. I think the first two days of stroke play will be the same for everybody, but in order to win this thing, you’ve got to play 36 holes of match play for three days. That’s when the younger guys should have a big advantage,” he said.
Pratico worked at Pinehaven CC for three years, and said the course plays much more difficult than its 6,496-yard, par-71 layout would suggest.
“You’ve got to keep it in play, because the rough is a little taller than it usually is right now,” he said. “The other thing is that with all the rain we had [Sunday], the greens were soft and so were the fairways. But once it dries out, the course will play a lot quicker. The greens at Pinehaven are small and they are elevated. Putting, as usual, will be the key, but holes 11 through 16 are pretty tough.”
There are two other five-time Gazette County Amateur winners in the field, Pinehaven superintendent Rob Bigley and Jim Mueller, who currently plays out of Orchard Creek, but was a longtime Pinehaven CC member.
“The course is in as good a shape as I can get it,” said Bigley. “We didn’t come out of the winter that well, and we had to shut the course down for a few days when we had a hailstorm recently, but the course has come back. The greens aren’t quite as quick as they were in 1998, but I think we’ll have them running at 11 on the Stimpmeter, and that’s not bad.”
Bigley’s main priority has been to get his course ready for this elite competition, but he has also been working hard on his game, especially since turning 50.
“I’m playing more since
June 1. My son, Robby, has been dragging me out. It’s still in progress,” he said.
Other veterans to keep an eye on include former New York State Mid-Amateur champions John Vaccaro (Wolferts Roost CC) and Matt Clarke (CC of Troy); Aaron
AuBuchon (Saratoga Golf & Polo Club), a former professional who has wins in the Troy Invitational, the Saratoga County Amateur and the Eagle Crest Shootout under his belt; multiple Tri-County Golf
Association and Troy Invy champ Joe Quillinan (CC of Troy); and two-time Troy Invy and Tri-County Match Play titlist Jim Welch (Winding Brook CC).
Among the young guns with State Am title aspirations are CC of Troy’s Nick Feinberg, who won this season’s Troy Invitational; 2008 Tri-County Match Play winner Jim Gifford (The Edison Club); two-time Gazette County Amateur titlist Robby Bigley Jr. (Pinehaven CC); Chris and Bryan Barach of Mohawk Golf Club; Donald DeNyse III, a former New York State Junior Amateur champion from Capital Hills at Albany; Shenendehowa High School’s Ryan Simpson, who plays out of Ballston Spa Country Club; and Siena College standouts Justin Deitz (The Edison Club) and Chris Haggerty.
Robby Bigley Jr., who helps his father on the grounds crew once his teaching job at Duanesburg stopped for the summer, might have the ultimate course advantage, because he plays Pinehaven CC nearly every day.
“The key to this event is to make match play. You need two solid rounds of qualifying to do that. Then, you’ve got to putt well in match play,” he said. “You don’t want to go up against a hot putter, because it can be frustrating. But the good thing about playing here is that I have a comfort level. I know there are some holes that I can make a birdie. I just feel comfortable when I’m playing here.”
Pinehaven last hosted the State Amateur in 1998, when Kingston’s Bryan Smith triumphed. The last time the Capital Region hosted the event was in 2006 at the Country Club of Troy.
Following are the first- and second-round pairings, including tee times for both rounds.
7:30-1:03 — Brian Brown (Lindenhurst), Kevin Fitzpatrick (Harrison), Kevin Lewis (Henrietta).
7:39-1:12 — Brian Mackey (Chestnut Ridge), Chris Stegemann (Orchard Park), Ryan Ventre (Saratoga Springs).
7:48-1:21 — Chris Calogero (Watervliet), Andrew LaRocque (Averill Park), Andrew Schwert (Rochester).
7:57-1:30 — Alexander Cooper (Dix Hills), Brandon Fox (Rhinecliff), Kevin Morgan (Homer).
8:06-1:39 — Mike Broas (Bloominburg), Don Enga (Syosett), Joe Lanci (Saratoga Springs).
8:15-1:48 — Nicklaus Ambrose (Getzville), Tom Garby (Warwick), Paul Pratico (Schenectady).
8:24-12:00 — Chris Barach (Niskayuna), Matthew Klein (New York City), Joe Quillinan (Glenmont).
8:33-12:09 — Jeffrey Clark (Saratoga Springs), Ron Plummer (LeRoy), Steven Rosenzweig (New York City).
8:42-12:18 — Max Buckley (Rye), Patrick Pierson (Central Nyack), Zachary Vinal (Syracuse).
8:51-12:27 — Drew Creighton (Buffalo), David Hayes (Loudonville), Zachary Plutzik (New York City).
9:00-12:36 — John Bufalini (Watertown), Nick Miller (Potsdam), Andrew Whalen (Conklin).
9:09-12:45 — Greg Levings (Averill Park), Jim Mueller (Altamont), Nolan Swanson (Fredonia).
9:18-12:54 — Ken Cohen (Jeffersonville, Jim Gifford (Ballston Lake), Bruce Miller (Fly Creek).
12:00-8:24 — Jay Collier (Williamsville), Jordan Keshler (Oriskany Falls), Bradley Roche (Cold Spring Harbor).
12:09-8:33 — Bob Cooper (Scotia), Dave Segot (Bethpage), Mike Wheeler (Schenectady).
12:18-8:42 — Nick Feinberg (Troy), Shane Gilroy (Manlius), Jake Katz (Williamsville).
12:27-8:51 — Dick Field (Schenectady), John Gaffney (Williamsville), Kevin VandenBerg (Syracuse).
12:36-9:00 — Donald DeNyse III (Albany), Ray Neuman (Medina), Jacob Reimer (Rochester).
12:45-9:09 — Robby Bigley (Rotterdam), Andrew Kay (Pittsfield), Jamison Sindelar (Horseheads).
12:54-9:18 — Dylan Bedy (Syracuse), J.P. Kircher (Pittsford), Jeff Wolniewicz (West Seneca).
1:03-7:30 — Justin Armstrong (Livingston Manor), Douglas Kleeschulte (Kingston), James Star (Douglas Manor).
1:12-7:39 — James Buchanan (Loudonville), Jason Frontuto (Webster), Brad Smith (Binghamton).
1:21-7:48 — Kevin Kaye (West Henrietta), Alex Macielak (Saratoga Springs), Bill Paulsen Jr. (Clifton Park).
1:39-8:06 — Ben Eldridge (Niskayuna), Blake Gianiny (Rochester), Chris Stoddard (Jamestown).
1:48-8:15 — Michael Buttafoco (Forest Hills), Chris Haggerty (Queensbury).
7:30-1:03 — Michael Byrnes (Queensbury), Cameron Lojewski (Whitesboro), Kurt Voss (Rochester).
7:39-1:12 — Nick Chemega (Endicott), Joe Macaluso (Clifton Park), Daniel Wentworth (New Hartford).
7:48-1:21 — Chris Driscoll (Schenectady), Robert Lutomski (Endicott), Doug Slattery (West Henrietta).
7:57-1:30 — Rob Bigley Sr. (Schenectady), Nick Masterpole (Syracuse), Gary Spector (Woodmere).
8:06-1:39 — Craig Lavis (Attica), Dave Mooradian (Troy), Chris Sanger (Red Hook).
8:15-1:48 — Andy Bernatovicz (Grand
Island), Tom Muto Jr. (Wolcott), Jon-
Michael Socaris (Voorheesville).
8:24-12:00 — Ryan Crum (South Salem), Raman Luthra (East Amherst), David Mann (New York City).
8:33-12:09 — David Esch (Briarcliff Manor), Ryan Simpson (Mechanicvile), Matthew Stasiuk (Clarence).
8:42-12:18 — Dominic Bozzelli (Mendon), John Duthrie (Lansing), John Vaccaro (Menands).
8:51-12:27 — Matt Clarke (Albany), James Miller (Silver Creek), James Scorse (Churchville).
9:00-12:36 — Aaron AuBuchon (Saratoga Springs), Shane Dyer (Watertown), Tyler Phillips (Williamson).
9:09-12:45 — John Blain (Hamilton), John Davis (Slingerlands), Tim Flanigan (Troy).
9:18-12:54 — Kyle Armstrong (Schenectady), Michael Buffalini (Watertown), Scott Wheeler (Hopewell Junction).
12:00-8:24 — Derek Bard (New Hartford), Nick Gallo (Mt. Sinai), James Tedesco (Clifton Park).
12:09-8:33 — Ken Riter (Buffalo), Erik Thomas (Troy), Andrew Weise (Clifton Park).
12:18-8:423 — Justin Deitz (Clifton Park), Kirk Kashevaroff (Tuxedo), Alex Park (Newfield).
12:27-8:51 — Don Allen (Pittsfield), Ron Bayer (Newburgh), Stan Milos (Loudonville).
12:36-9:00 — Matt Belizze (North
Salem), Matt Campbell (Rome), Jim Welch
12:45-9:09 — Tyler Dattmore (East Syracuse), Andrew Frank (Limestone), Nicholas Morreale (Lewiston).
12:54-9:18 — Brian Casey (Poughkeepsie), George Gorton (Endwell), Derek Walbridge (Orchard Park).
1:03-7:30 — Cory Endress (Cortland), Brody Nieporte (Bayville), Mark Thornhill (Mechanicville).
1:12-7:39 — Jason Doppelt (Great Neck), Randy Duncan (Schenectady), Kevin Mulvey (Kenmore).
1:21-7:48 — Doug DeCarlo (Deerfield), Brian McKenna (Penfield), Eric Snow (Saratoga Springs).
1:30-7:57 — Kristopher Boyes (Tonawanda), Tom Floramonti (Grenwood Lake), Jeff Pachter (Glenmont).
1:39-8:06 — Bob Chamo (Binghamton), Mike Marchetta (New Hartford), Tom Prestia (New York City).
1:48-8:15 — Mark Baity (Greenwich, Conn.), Thomas Hackett (Binghamton), Bennett Myer (Ovid).
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