Nothing is routine about Scott Berliner’s amazing golf game. Except, maybe, his steady pre-shot routine.
The 45-year-old Luzerne native and assistant pro at Saratoga Spa Golf Course extended his phenomenal streak to an unprecedented 10 consecutive Northeastern New York PGA Stroke Play Championships Tuesday at Mohawk Golf Club. Berliner pulled away from the field with a 3-under-par 68 in the final round and finished with a two-day total of 5-under-par-137 to win by four shots. He earned a $2,000 paycheck.
Country Club of Pittsfield head pro Eric Mabee (71-70-141) was the runner-up, while Daniel Kinn of the Achusnet Company was third with 72-70-142.
Berliner rolled in two birdies on the front and two more on the back. His lone bogey of the day happened on the 10th hole, when he nearly hit his tee shot out of bounds.
“I don’t know if I ever feel comfortable,” said Berliner, the nine-time NENY PGA Player of the Year who once again leads the point list. “When I birdied the fifth hole, Eric made bogey and Justin [first-round co-leader Justin Hearley] made double; that gapped it a little.”
Berliner said his concentration was much better during the final round, even though he rallied late in the opening round on Monday to share the lead with Hearley. “It was tough [Monday], but I thought I figured something out. I think having that gap after five holes helped me relax,” Berliner noted.
“Today, I tried to stay focused, but it was tough. As I get older, everything gets a little harder. I think my speed on the greens was good today. I had just 28 putts, which was good. I didn’t hit a lot of greens, but my short game was good. Typically, I like to let my ball fall into the hole on the last roll.”
Berliner said he kept an eye on the scoreboard to track his nearest competitors. “I kind of want to know where everyone is. I’m usually aware,” he said. “I’m more of a scoreboard watcher than not.”
A key to his final round was sticking to his pre-shot routine. “My rhythm was good today,” he said. “I had a little hot streak [Monday], and I rolled it a little better late in my round. I noticed I was getting a little too quick with my swing. Today, everything slowed down. When Tom Brady is in a pressure situation, the game slows down for him. The game comes to you, as opposed to you going out to get it.”
Berliner continues to dominate the local club pros’ weekly tour. He now owns 26 major championships, including eight Donald Ross Classic titles, four Professional Championships and four NENY PGA Match Play crowns.
But his incredible 10 straight Stroke Play victories is both historic and his most noteworthy career achievement.
“Ten in a row is pretty cool,” he said. “Once I got to five or six, I kind of wanted to get into double digits. I want to fill that whole part of the trophy,” he said with a chuckle. “To win the same event 10 times at nine different courses against [talented] guys who come and go is special. Longevity-wise, it’s a pretty cool accomplishment. Down the road, I’ll look back and probably have more pride than I even have right now.”
Rising standout Rachel Barlette finally became a major titlist by capturing her first Northeastern Women’s Golf Association Championship with a par on the first playoff hole on Thursday to edge three-time champion Pat Mayne of Western Turnpike at Pinehaven Country Club.
Barlette (80-83) and Mayne (78-85) each finished at 163 for the two-day gross event. Tied for third were defending champion Sue Kahler of Ballston Spa CC (78-86-164) and Mary Scatena (84-80-164).
Barlette, a 33-year-old member of Shaker Ridge Country Club, took some extra time to line up her winning putt after Mayne left her par putt short. “I knew when I lined it up at first that it wasn’t right,” she said. “I told myself to just give the putt a try and give it a chance. It wasn’t our best round today by any means. It wasn’t one for the books. I just hung in there. Nobody was playing great. I just stuck with it.”
There was a little confusion with the scorecards, so neither Barlette nor Mayne, who were riding together, knew that they finished in a tie. But after checking the scoring, the playoff began quickly, and it was over in just a couple of minutes.
“I wasn’t nervous in the playoff today,” Barlette said. “I was nervous leading up to the tournament, and I was more nervous the first day, and maybe a little earlier today. But I took a deep breath and just let it go.”
Barlette, a graduate of Shaker High School and William Smith College, has finished among the leaders in several local events, but this is her first major title.
“Certainly I’ve been in contention, and I’ve had some seconds and thirds,” she said. “But I’ve never won anything. I won my club championship at Shaker Ridge a couple of years ago, but this is the most major tournament I’ve ever won. I’m really excited. I’ve been chipping away at my handicap every year. It’s now down to a 5.”
Other flight winners were Heather Morrison (93-88-181) in the second flight, Judy Mysliborski (98-94-192) in the third flight and Mary Assey (100-96-196) in the fourth flight.
Albany Academy standout Kennedy Swedick was awarded one of four sponsor’s exemptions into Friday’s Symetra Tour CDPHP Open Pro-Am, which replaces the original tournament postponed from May.
The new format is a one-day pro-am with 35 pros playing with a team of four amateurs apiece. The pros will be playing their own ball, but the amateurs will be playing a scramble off the pros’ drive.
Swedick, who won the inaugural Section II Girls’ Championship last fall, as well as her NENY PGA Junior Tour age division, is currently ranked No. 2 in NYS for girls age 18 and under. She is also ranked 262nd in the nation out of nearly 3,000 girls 18 and under, according to Junior Golf Scoreboard.
The NENY PGA Junior League’s Fall Session will begin Sept. 19 at Town of Colonie Golf Course and will continue Saturday or Sunday every week until the weekend of Oct. 18. There will be under-13 teams for kids ages 7-13 and under-17 teams for kids ages 14-17. Boys and girls of all skills experience are welcome. No golf experience is required, but you must have your own clubs. For more information, contact Christian Torres at 518-438-8645. Entry deadline is Sept. 4.
The Shaker Ridge Invitational has a full field of 64 teams for the three-day event this Friday through Sunday at Shaker Ridge Country Club. The championship division has 38 teams and will be cut after Friday’s qualifier to 16 teams. The remainder will make up the first division. There will also be a senior division, including strong tandems of Jim Mueller with Mark Chylinski and Matt Clarke with Tony Hejna, as well as a super senior division with 10 teams.
Ryan McDonnell (71-73-144) won the low gross title in the Eagle Crest Club Championship last weekend. Ryan Tatlock was the low net champion (140).
SUNY-Cobleskill has announced that Megan Bowman will serve as both the men’s and women’s golf coach for the 2020-21 season. She has been the Fighting Tigers’ head women’s basketball coach since 2019. The former Sage College basketball standout carries a 12 handicap on the links.
The Van Pattern Golf Club Championship will be held next Saturday and Sunday. There will be men’s, women’s and senior divisions, with gross and net scoring. Entry fee is $125 per player ($50 for members) and includes a small bucket of balls and cart. The RVP Two Player Better Ball tournament will be held Sept. 5. Entry fee is $75 per player ($150 per team) or $30 per player for members. Once again, a small bucket of balls and cart are included.
After 44 years of playing the game, Fox Run Golf Club head pro and owner Rich Scott collected his first hole-in-one on the 155-yard fifth hole at his own club.
Jim Ryan used a 7-iron to record his fifth career hole-in-one on the 151-yard 17th hole at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. It was also his second ace on that hole. Ryan’s playing partners included Kenny Hall (five holes-in-one) and Tony Delgardo (three holes-in-one). This regular threesome has 13 total holes-in-one. That’s quite a talented group.
Also at Schenectady Municipal, Nick Ventresca aced the sixth hole.
Union College basketball coach Chris Murphy aced the 130-yard 17th hole with a pitching wedge at Fairways of Halfmoon Golf Course.
Butch Carpentier became the second member of the Glenville Senior Center golf league to record a hole-in-one this season at Hillcrest Golf Club, when he holed out a 7-iron shot from 118 yards on the ninth hole.
Pat Reynolds holed out with a 5 hybrid on the 118-yard 15th hole at Stadium Golf Club.
At Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course, Mike Rocas hit a 4-iron for a hole-in-one on the 200-yard eighth hole.
Rotterdam’s Tom Hefferon collected another eagle on the 502-yard, par-5 ninth hole at Eagle Crest Golf Club just 11 days after his first eagle on that hole. This time he used a pitching wedge to hole his third shot.
Don Phyliss eagled the par-4 17th hole at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.
Also at Amsterdam Municipal, Rob Preston eagled the 10th hole.