One area resident and one former local player are within striking distance in the 52nd annual New York State Senior and Super Senior Amateur Golf Championship.
Chuck Connolly, the 63-year-old Hiland Golf Club member who won the state senior crown in 2000 and was runner-up on three other occasions, and Doug Vergith of Long Island, who used to belong to both Mohawk River Country Club (then Walhalla) and Mohawk Golf Club, both carded 74s and are two shots behind the leaders after Wednesday’s opening round at Normanside Country Club.
Tied for the lead with two-over-par 72s are Randy Young of Bellevue Country Club in Syracuse; Mickey Gallagher, last year’s
Super Senior champion from Stone Hedges Golf Club near Ithaca; and Rich Hanington of Loyd Harbor.
Originally a 54-hole tournament, rain forced the suspension of Tuesday’s opening round and shortened the event to 36 holes. The final round will be played today, using Tuesday’s pairings.
Scores were surprisingly high on the relatively short (6,366-yard) layout, but many players attributed the lack of red numbers to the wet rough and the speedy greens.
“I expected to see lower scores,” said Connolly, who registered eight pars on the back, but closed out his round with a three-putt bogey on the 18th hole. “I’ve done fairly well here in the past. I shot 67 on my own ball in the first round of this year’s Normanside Invitational.”
Nursing a sore back, Connolly also bogeyed the second, fifth, six and seventh holes to go along with birdies on the eighth and 10th holes.
Connolly, a former teacher and track coach at Queensbury High School, has 23 career club championships to go along with 57 Eastern New York Golf Associations titles over the last four seasons.
Vergith, 60, was another player who used his course knowledge to his advantage. He finished second when the State Senior Amateur was played here in 2003, and he was also the runner-up in his division last year.
“I didn’t play very well or putt especially well,” said Vergith, who was a member of Walhalla from 1974-1980 and Mohawk Golf Club from 1981-85. He moved to Hartford, Conn., and lived there for 10 years. He’s been living on Long Island in recent years, but still
returns to play local tournaments like the Normanside, Shaker Ridge and McGregor invitationals with good friend Mike Bayus.
“The course played long because there was no roll, but the greens were perfect, and they were very fast,” said Vergith, who also has a Metropolitan Golf Association Senior Amateur title to his credit.
“When you hit the all above the hole, you had to be very careful.”
Young, originally from Ohio, said he putted very well and played conservative golf.
“You’ve got to keep the ball below the hole and aim for the center of the greens,” he said. “It was also important to keep the ball in play. The rough was very wet this morning.”
Young, who rolled in two birdies, said he’s played in this tournament for the last five years and has finished in the top 20 a couple of times.
Gallagher, 66, led this tournament last year after two rounds, but shot an 81 in the final round and was overtaken for the overall lead. He still won the Super Senior title.
“The course is playing a little longer than it did five years ago,” he said.
“I hit the ball well all day, but I made a double bogey on the [par-3] 13th hole when I came up short and then skulled the ball over the green with my chip.”
Hanington, also 66, connected for three birdies. The runner-up in the Super Senior division a year ago, he said that the scoring for today’s final round should be much better.
“Basically, if you hit the ball solid, you were putting for birdies on a number of holes,” he said.
“I can’t believe that a 72 held up [for the lead]. The course is not real long, but the greens are fast. I think a 68 or a 69 is well within the realm of possibilities [today].”
Joe Quillinan of the Country Club of Troy and former area standout Perry Noun, now out of Oswego, each shot a 75.
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