At Mohawk Golf Club, tradition is cherished.
Incorporated in 1898, the club’s main attraction in the early days was the Mohawk Invitational, which featured many of the top players from around the country and ran from 1910 to 1948.
Since 1949, however, the Mohawk Member-Guest has been the focal point of the club’s golf season, and winning the championship-flight title creates star status.
Brandon Haase and Tim Hamm found out how it feels to win the Mohawk M-G crown a year ago, and they don’t want to give away the trophy. Sparked by a five-
under-par stretch over four holes on the back nine, Haase and Hamm shot a five-under-par 66 to pull out to a three-shot lead over former champs Ben Bates and Tyler Callahan in the 60th renewal of the event Saturday.
Both teams carded 65s in Friday’s opening round, but each tandem was inconsistent on the front side Saturday.
Hamm, a Niskayuna High School graduate and a former Mohawk Golf Club member, rolled in a
12-foot birdie putt on the first hole. After Hamm failed to save par out of the bunker on the par-3 second hole, Haase chipped in for par on the fourth hole. But then Haase three-putted for bogey on the fifth hole.
Hamm’s up-and-down par on the sixth hole kept some momentum going for the defending champions, and then Haase connected for a six-foot birdie putt on the seventh hole to help his team make the turn with an even-par 36.
But the fireworks started on the back nine. After both Haase and Hamm missed birdie putts inside 10 feet on the 10th hole and Hamm missed an eight-foot try on No. 11, they finally heated up.
Hamm started the surge with a four-foot birdie putt on the 12th. The 34-year-old Haase blasted a big drive on the 515-yard 13th hole, but his tee shot left him in the left rough. He still went for the green in two, and he got a good bounce over the right bunker and onto the green, about 15 feet from the cup to set up an eagle.
Haase kept the hot streak going with a 25-foot birdie putt on the
par-4 14th, and then Hamm finished off the scoring spree with a five-foot birdie putt on the par-3 15th hole.
“I was really proud of Brandon on that 13th hole. He got a great bounce, and took advantage of it,” said Hamm.
“We were working well together today,” said Haase, who grew up at Mohawk, but then moved away several times before returning about four years ago. “That’s what we do when we do it well,” he said.
“We’re just out having fun. The birdies come when they come. I told Tim that our names were already on the trophy, so that there was no pressure on us.”
Bates and Callahan remained in contention with a 69 for a two-round total of 134, but they didn’t take advantage of several good scoring opportunities.
“We just got outplayed today,” said Bates, a former Skidmore College standout. “They were better than we were in every category. They outdrove us, they hit their irons better and they outputted us. I putted very well [Friday], but I putted poorly today. We didn’t deserve to be leading the tournament today.
“But we can definitely come back tomorrow,” he said.
Championship flight — Brandon Haase-Tim Hamm 66-131, Ben Bates-Tyler Callahan 69-134, Mike Carroll-Les Devitt 71-141, Mike Trunzo-Keith Gillespie 69-142, Jim Follain-Tom Follain 73-143 Neil Golub-Matt Clarke 73-144, Bill Sweet-Paul Pratico 72-145, John Nolan-Ben Bernstein 74-147.
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