County Am: Bigley recovers with birdie string

Four holes into the second round of the Gazette County Amateur Golf Championship, first-round leader

Four holes into the second round of the Gazette County Amateur Golf Championship, first-round leader Robby Bigley Jr. appeared headed for disaster.

Bigley, a two-time champion, bogeyed three of his first four holes, and he had to make an up-and-down par on the second hole after hitting a shot into the trees and taking an unplayable lie.

“I wasn’t playing that badly, but my shots were going too far,” said the long-hitting Bigley.

But the former Siena College standout woke up on the back nine with five birdies, including four in a row, and finished with a one-under-par 71 that kept him in the lead heading into today’s final round at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. Bigley finished the first 36 holes with a 138 total, one shot ahead of five-time titlist Jim Mueller of Orchard Creek, who posted a 69-139.

Four shots back are Chad Stoffer, who recently switched from The Edison Club to Schenectady Municipal, and Brandon Haase of Mohawk Golf Club. Each posted 70s en route to a two-day total of 142.

Twenty-three players made the cut for the final round, which will begin, weather permitting, at 7 a.m. Rain, which held off the first two days of the tournament, was predicted to start late Saturday and continue right through Monday.

Bigley rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole to grab some momentum and then went on a birdie barrage on the back nine. He connected for red numbers on the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th holes.

His streak was snapped on the par-3 15th hole when he hit his tee shot with a 19-degree hybrid right over the flag and well over the green. He failed to get up and down, and suffered his first bogey of the back side.

Bigley recorded a birdie on the par-5 16th hole, but his approach shot on the par-3 17th went long and left. He failed to save par from the rough to the left side of the green.

“Things weren’t going that well, but I steadied myself with that birdie on the ninth hole. Then I really got things going for a while,” said Bigley. “I was surprised by what happened on No. 15, because it was a pretty good shot. The same thing happened on the 17th hole. I used a 7-iron, but it went too long on me. At least I’m in good pos­ition.”

Mueller, who was playing in the same foursome, rolled in four birdies and made some excellent up-and-downs en route to his 69. He birdied the second, seventh, 12th and 16th holes, but even more impressive were his par-savers.

He pulled his tee shot into the left rough, near the hazard line, on the par-4 11th hole. After chipping out to the fairway, he stuck a wedge shot to within a foot of the cup and tapped in for par.

“I didn’t know it was that close,” Mueller said.

He also made a memorable save on the 18th hole. After pushing his tee shot well right into the rough, he had no direct route to the green, so he hit his next shot into the left rough. He then hit another crisp wedge shot to within a couple of feet and knocked in another par putt.

“I only missed four greens all day on the eighth, 10th, 11th and 18th holes, and I made par on three of them,” said Mueller, who also three-putted the ninth green after reaching the par-5 in two.

“My second putt on No. 9 was one of my worst strokes ever,” he said of the short putt that lipped out for birdie.

“My game plan for [today] is not to make any stupid mistakes. We’ve got four guys within four shots, and it should be a great final round.”

Stoffer chipped in for birdie on the par-3 sixth hole and added birdies on the ninth and 12th holes. A poor tee shot led to his only bogey on No. 11.

“I wasn’t in a lot of trouble all day. I was a little aggressive on some of my first putts, but I made all of them coming back,” he said. “I missed a 21⁄2-foot birdie putt on seven, or the round could have been even better. All in all, it was a nice round. I think I played a patient round today.”

Haase clicked for five birdies (fifth, 11th, 13th, 16th and 18th holes) but his putter went cold near the end of the front side.

“I three-putted the eighth, ninth and 10th holes. It’s not the first time my putter let me down,” said Haase. “But it was a pretty good round, and I’m happy to be in contention.”


(Par 72-144)

Qualifiers: Robby Bigley Jr. 71-138, Jim Mueller 69-139, Chad Stoffer 70-142, Brandon Haase 70-142, Ed Chylinski 72-144, Alex Olbrych 72-146, Tony Cristello 74-146, Paul Pratico 73-146, Chris Barach 77-147, Al Neb­olini 76-147, Chris Driscoll 75-147, Nick Longo 74-147, Neil Golub 76-148, Brandon Cristello 77-149, Jerry Brescia 76-149, Jim Gardy 73-150, Seth Adams 74-150, Ben Bates 79-150, Mike DeBrino 73-150, Mike Stopera 74-151, Chris Cross 74-151, Harry Morgan 78-151, Mike Bayus 76-151.

Failed to make the cut: Andy Bennett 80-152, Bill Sweet 76-152, Bill Moll 77-152, Darren Hart 78-153, John Mendrysa 82-154, Peter Andrikopoulos 80-154, Tim Ferrara 78-155, Larry Edwards 79-155, Charles Harding 79-156, Chris Pierpont 79-156, Jay Taub 79-156, Mike Martin 80-156, Todd Czepiel 80-157, Chris Comi 80-157, Greg Stopera 80-157, Bill Frutchy 81-158, Mike Mina 82-159, Jim Fazio 83-160, Joe Plantz 85-162, Bob Cooper NC; Mario Marino WD; Dave Nicholson WD.


7:00 — Harry Morgan, Chris Cross, Mike Bayus.

7:10 — Mike DeBrino, Mike Stopera, Ben Bates, Seth Adams.

7:20 — Jim Gardy, Brandon Cristello, Jerry Grescia, Neil Golub.

7:30 — Al Nebolini, Chris Barach, Chris Driscoll, Nick Longo.

7:40 — Tony Cristello, Paul Pratico, Alex Olbrych, Ed Chylinski.

7:50 — Chad Stoffer, Brandon Haase, Jim Mueller, Robby Bigley Jr.

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