Extra power not required. Course knowledge vital.
Regular visitors to Glens Falls Country Club know that this hilly Donald Ross layout is not the longest in the Capital Region, but it can be tricky.
That’s why Albany Country Club assistant pro Matt Felber, one of the longest hitters in the Northeastern New York PGA, decided to tone down his power swing during Monday’s Donald Ross Classic. His strategy worked to perfection en route to a one-under-par 70 and a two-shot victory.
Usually a two-day event, the first round, scheduled for Ticonderoga Golf Club, was washed out Sunday.
“If I have an advantage, it’s usually with power,” said Felber, who also won the Donald Ross Classic in 2009. “But I recently switched equipment from Titlelist
to Cleveland, and I was using a 15.5 hybrid off the tee on most of the holes. I don’t carry a 3-wood.
“I love to play Donald Ross layouts,” he said. “When I get to play here, I’ve learned not to try to overpower the golf course. Usually, I like a longer format. The two-day tournaments are a lot better for me, because I usually have a few holes where I spray the ball around, but I hit the ball well all day and closed out the tournament.”
Starting on the 12th hole in a shotgun format, the 34-year-old Felber birdied the first, sixth, eighth and 13th holes. But he suffered a double-bogey on the second hole.
“I hit my tee shot down the right side, and I couldn’t find it. I had to re-tee,” Felber said. “I also had a bogey out there. But for the most part, I hit it well. Although it was a little disappointing not to play 36 holes, I was glad to finally put two good nines together.”
Felber, in his fourth season at Albany Country Club, earned $1,2000, plus a handsome trophy.
Tied for second with a 72 were Taconic Golf Club assistant pro Kevin Bennison and McGregor Links Country Club head pro Tom Oppedisano, whose lost ball probably cost him the tournament, or at least a chance of earning a spot in the playoff.
“I was two-under-par with three holes to go,” said Oppedisano,
recent winner of section classic event at his home course. “I hit my tee shot on the 10th hole, and I couldn’t find my ball. I was looking in the weeds, and I found a ball that looked like mine with a black line and a red dot on it. I played it, but once I got on the green, I took another look at the ball, and it didn’t look right. It wasn’t mine. So I went back to the weeds again and found the right ball. I ended up getting a [double-bogey] six on the hole. I tried to collect myself, but I also got a bogey on my next hole, No. 11.
“The good thing was that I almost birdied the 12th hole, and I stayed focused. I thought about what if my kids were here with me, or some of the golfers I coached. Overall, I played well.”
Oppedisano birdied the eighth, ninth, 17th and 18th holes. He and Bennison earned $955 each.
Tied for fourth place with 73s were defending Donald Ross Classic and NENYPGA Player of the Year Frank Mellet of Colonie Golf & Country Club, former Donald Ross champion Scott Berliner, the assistant pro at Normanaside Country Club, and Cobleskill Golf & Country Club head pro Paul Jaycox. All earned $616. Bob Mucha of Greenock Country Club was next with a 75, and earned $360.
Rolling Hills at Antlers head pro Rick Wolcott and PGA life member Ron Philo Sr. each shot a 78 in regulation in the senior division. Wolcott won the playoff, and picked up $320. Philo cashed for $240, and host pro Tom Haggerty was third with an 80.
Open division — Matt Felber (Albany CC) 70, $1,200; Kevin Bennison (Taconic GC) 72, $955; Tom Oppedisano (McGregor Links CC) 72, $955; Scott Berliner (Normanside CC) 73, $616; Paul Jaycox (Cobleskill G&CC) 73, $616; Frank Mellet (Colonie G&CC) 73, $616; Bob Mucha (Greenock CC) 75, $360; Tyson Briggs (Stockbridge GC) 76, Glenn Davis (Albany CC) 76, Todd Manderson (Ballston Spa CC) 76, Rick Pohle (Taconic GC) 76, Ian Breen (Colonie G&CC) 77, David Lis (Wolferts Roost CC) 77, Keith Sprenger (Catskill GC) 77, David Strawn (Cranwell GC) 79, Steve Vatter (Capital Hills at Albany) 79, John Andrews (Symocre CC) 81, Milton Torres (Wahconah CC) 81, Kevin Cain (Colonie G&CC) 82, Ryan Callahan (Waubeeka) 83, Noel Gebauer (Taconic GC) 83, Anthony Therrien (Saratoga G&P) 88.
Senior division — x-Rick Wolcott (Rolling Hills at Antlers) 78, $320; Ron Philo Sr. (PGA Life Member) 78, $240; Tom Haggerty (Glens Falls CC) 80, $200; Ron Choquette (Burden Lake CC) 84, 84.
x-Won sudden death playoff.