SCHENECTADY — The revised and rescheduled Schenectady Classic boasted some familiar names atop the leaderboard after the first round Thursday at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
But those names aren’t necessarily associated with this longtime successful tournament, which normally is played on Father’s Day weekend but was rescheduled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
First-time entrant Travis Koch of Troy, perennial contender Jim Welch, who plays out of Olde Kinderhook, and Capital Region king of the hill Dan Russo of Schuyler Meadows, also playing in his first Schenectady Classic, each posted 1-under-par 71s to lead the field under extremely rainy conditions.
Two shots back with 73 are eight-time champion Jim Mueller of Orchard Creek, two-time runner-up Lance Hope of Schenectady and Clint Lange. Another shot back are Kyle Adams, former champion Jerry Brescia, Alex Olbrych and Mike Stopera. Defending champion Ben Bates, Adam Cahill, Nicholas Rumsey and Chad Stoffer carded 75s.
The men’s open field will play another round today before being cut in half for Saturday’s third round. There will be another cut to the low 12 for Sunday’s final round. This is the first time this tournament has included a four-round format.
In the men’s senior division, Mike Drake carded a 2-under-70 to lead four-time champion Paul Pratico (72) and former open division titlist Tom Salmon (72) going into today’s final round. The field will be cut in half. Kevin Broderick (73) and Paul Hart (74) rounded out the top five. The cutline was 81.
Carl Gilbert (76) and Woody Winslow (76) lead the super senior division for men 70 years of age and older. That cutline was 80.
The women’s division begins today and concludes on Saturday.
Koch, a 38-year-old Troy resident who attended high school at both Hoosic Valley and Shenendehowa, was searching desperately for another tournament to enter when he heard about this event. “I was looking around for something to play in,” he said. “I love to compete in tournaments, and there just weren’t that many around this summer.”
Koch said he’s competed in the NYS Mid-Amateur twice. He recently played in the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Stroke Play Championship at Schuyler Meadows and a week ago won the 27-hole Iron Man Tournament at Van Patten Golf Club.
“It was a case of having a lot of point and shoot shots at the greens. They were very soft,” Koch said. “I thought the course was in great condition.”
Koch rolled in four birdies to offset three bogeys.
Welch, a former NYS Mid-Amateur champion who has multiple local major titles as well, including several Troy Invitational, Tri-County Match Play and CRAGA Stroke Play crowns, has been playing in the Schenectady Classic ever since the field was opened up to non-residents of Schenectady County about five years ago.
“I’m just hanging in there right now,” he said. “It was a little tougher when it started to rain harder, and they had some tough pins today.”
Welch, a Skidmore College graduate, also had four birdies and three bogeys.
Russo, 62, recently won his ninth CRAGA Stroke Play Championship to boost his all-time leading local major total to 19.
“I just played a practice round here the other day. I haven’t played a tournament here in a long time,” Russo said.
He rolled in birdies on the second, ninth, 10th, 13th and 16th holes.
“I just couldn’t figure out the speed of the greens. I missed a lot of putts today,” he said.
In the senior division, Drake, 54, used an eagle on the 12th hole and three birdies to grab a two-shot lead over Pratico.
“I’m looking forward to [today],” he said. “I hit the ball really well today, and hopefully, that will continue.”
Pratico, who along with his four Schenectady Senior Classic wins has seven regular Schenectady Classic victories, said a double bogey on the par-5 16th hole spoiled his round. He hit his tee shot into the water hazard on the left. Pratico also three-putted the second and fourth holes, and missed the 12th green in regulation for bogeys, but he knocked in five birdies, including one on the 18th hole.
“I think the lack of competitive play hurt me today,” Pratico said, “This is my first tournament round of the year. The little putts you have to make in a tournament are a lot different than the little putts you have when you are just playing a regular round of golf.”
Salmon’s even-par round included four birdies that offset a double bogey on the 10th hole and bogeys on the seventh and 15th holes.
“I like where I’m at right now, but here at Muni you have to capitalize on the par-5s, and I didn’t do that today. Hopefully, I’ll do that in the final round.”
MEN’S OPEN DIVISION
Travis Koch 71, Dan Russo 71, Jim Welch 71, Joe Fitzsimmons 73, Lance Hope 73, Jim Mueller 73, Cliff Lange 73, Alex Olbrych 74, Kyle Adams 74, Jerry Brescia 74, Mike Stopera 74, Nicholas Rumsey 75, Chad Stoffer 75, Adam Cahill 75, Ben Bates 75, Connor Adams 77, Mike Dwyer 77, Carter Flanigan 77, David Hayes 77, Evan Cody 77, Aaron Simone 77, Greg Bennett 78, Griff Hunter 78, Brandon Haase 78, Matthew Sweet 78, David Smith 79, Jason Hoch 81, Matt Wilgocki 81, Chris DiCocco 82, Mike Trunzo 82, John Blackburn 83, Mark Compton 83, Salem Jacobsen 83, John Mendrysa 83, Connor Desjardins 84, Calvin Cleworth 84, Justin McGrath 84, Chris Dobson 85, John Courter 86, Adam Vandervoort 88, Dan Giovannangelo 89, Bob Alheim 90, Greg Klopfer 97. Justin Pincheon 103.
MEN’S SENIOR DIVISION
Leaders: Mike Drake 70, Paul Pratico 72, Tom Salmon 72, Kevin Broderick 73, Tony Cristello 74, Paul Hart 75, Andy Bennett 75, Jay Taub 76, Mike Mina 76, Gary Grimaldi 77 Glenn Stopera 78, Sal Romano 78 , Kevin Dwyer 78, Kevin Halburian 78, Jim Ryan 79, Kenny Hall 79, Dan Ireland 79, Paul Pawlik 80, Joe DeLorenzo 81, Don Dobbs 81, Bill Paulsen 81.
Missed cut: Dave Bintz 82, Jeff Barringer 82, Moe Mrockowski 83, Tim Bean 83, Tim Ward 84, Glenn Coons 84, Tony Delgado 85, Gary Grimm 86, Tom Higgins 85, James Gorman 86, Bob Norton 86, Mike DiGiloramo 87, Rick Lackey 88, Jim DeSantis 94, Neil Chambers WD, Bruce Martin 84.
MEN’S SUPER SENIOR DIVISION
Leaders: Woody Winslow 76, Carl Gilbert 76, Ron Anzalone 78, Dave Sutphen 78, Gary Reynolds 80, Don Blaha 80.
Missed cut: Peter Andrikopoulos 81, Jim Reid 81, Mario Marino 83, Don Larocque 83, Peter Maioriello 83, Richard Rini 83.