Hope off to good start in Schenectady Classic

Schenectady Classic co-leader Lance Hope chips onto the ninth green during the first round of the Schenectady Classic on Friday at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
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Schenectady Classic co-leader Lance Hope chips onto the ninth green during the first round of the Schenectady Classic on Friday at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.

SCHENECTADY — Long-hitting Lance Hope has suffered his share of heartache in the Schenectady Classic, finishing second twice after a couple of issues with scorecard signing discrepancies.

But the self-taught Schenectady Municipal Golf Course regular is always in contention at his favorite event, and this season is no different as he shares the lead with three others after shooting an even-par 72 Friday.

Joining Hope at the top of the opening round were Mark Chylinski, Griffith Hunter and seven-time titlist Paul Pratico. Another shot back on a crowded leaderboard are eight-time winner Jim Mueller, Tim Flanigan and Todd Czepiel. Six others, including former champions Dan Russo, Aaron Simone and Mike Wheeler, are another shot behind, while seven more players are another shot back.

Besides a stuffed leaderboard, another highlight of the first round was a hole-in-one by 72-year-old Carl Gilbert, who used a 7-iron for his fourth career ace on the 17th hole. The entire 80-player field plays another round Saturday before there is a cut to the low 20 and ties for Sunday’s final round.

In the Schenectady Women’s Classic, Mary Diefendorf of Canajoharie Country Club grabbed a huge five-shot lead with a 4-over-par 76. Tied for second with 81 were former champion Nancy Kroll, Grace Kochan, Kelly McKenna and Kathy Canestrini.

Hope’s up-and-down round included an eagle on the par-5 12th hole and a chip-in birdie on the 18th hole. He bogeyed the 11th, 13th and 15th holes.

“It doesn’t feel like I played that well,” said the former Troy Invitational champion who has been struggling with his game lately and tried to change things up by using a riding cart instead of walking. “I’m going to try to keep it clean [Saturday] and see how it goes.”

Meanwhile, Pratico, who birdied the second and 16th holes to offset bogeys on the first and fourth holes, is no stranger to being in contention. Besides his seven regular Schenectady Classic crowns, he has four Schenectady Senior Classic triumphs, as well as numerous runner-up finishes in both events.

“I had some good birdie opportunities, but I was very cautious with the speed of the greens,” said Pratico, who also has a NYS Senior Amateur crown on his resume. “I was just trying to two-putt and stay out of trouble. I’m not surprised the scores were this high. The wind was kicking up, and the pins were all tough. Matt [head pro Matt Daley] put the pins in some tricky places, and the greens were very firm. I was trying not to be too aggressive. You don’t want to put yourself out of it in the first round.”

Chylinski, 62, was an area stalwart until moving to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he’s lived for the last 25 years. He just recently moved back to Ballston Spa and will be playing plenty of local events.

“I hit the ball pretty good today,” Chylinski said. “I hit a couple of good 8-iron shots to within 10 feet for birdies on the 10th and 18th holes, and I also reached the [par-5] 16th in two and two-putted for my other birdie.”

Hunter, who recently competed for the CRAGA team in the annual Challenge Cup against the NENY PGA, was happy with his all-around play.

“I felt great all day, especially off the tee,” he said. “I made a 40-footer for birdie on the fourth hole, and that gave me a lot of momentum.”

Hunter also birdied the seventh and 16th holes.

“Last year was my first time playing in this tournament,” he said. “I like this course because of the five par-5s.”

Mueller, who holds the all-time record for Schenectady Municipal major championships, said he played “just awful” on the front nine but birdied the 10th and 16th holes to climb within a shot of the lead.

Russo, the defending champion who leads the Capital Region’s all-time major victory list for amateurs with 19 and recently finished third in the Troy Invitational, wasn’t happy with his game, especially on the front side. He suffered a double bogey on the par-5 ninth hole.

“I have no clue where the ball is going right now,” he lamented.

In the Schenectady Women’s Classic, which finishes up today and has both a gross and net division, Diefendorf was making her tournament debut. The 15-handicapper rolled in four birdies.

“I usually play out of Canajoharie CC, and I’ve scored as low as a 74 there,” Diefendorf,” said. “But I’ve been playing golf for about 15 years, and I used to play in a league here at Schenectady Municipal. It’s not like it’s my first rodeo,” she said.

RESULTS
(Par 72)
SCHENECTADY CLASSIC
Mark Chylinski 72, Paul Pratico 72, Lance Hope 72, Griffith Hunter 72, Jim Mueller 73, Tim Flanigan 73, Todd Czepiel 73, Richard Duff 74, Aaron Simone 74, Travis Koch 74, Dan Russo 74, Mike Wheeler 74, Mike Stopera 74, Joe Fitzsimmons 75, Tom McGinn 75, Rob Bigley 75, Clint Lange 75, Kyle Adams 75, Chad Stoffer 75, Jim Welch 75, Connor Adams 76, Pete Lindner 76, Jason Hoch 77, Alex Olbrych 77, Kevin Broderick 77, Ben Bates 78, Joe Marro 78, Dan Williams 78, Greg Stopera 78, Bob Cooper 78, Jay Taub 78, Nick Braman 78, Chris Gilbert 79, Greg Bennett 79, Jerry Brescia 79, Jim Toomey 80, Matthew Rentz, Patrick Woodfield 80, Tom Gatta 81, Tom Salmon 81, Kevin Dwyer 81, Michael Kelly 81, Mike LeClair 81, Michael Dwyer 82, Carl Gilbert 82, Andy Bennett 82, Mario Marino 82, Brandon Haase 82, Pat McDonald 82, Tim Bean 83, Tismark Boham 84, David Mooradian 85, Chris DiCocco 85, Nick Tellone 85, Dan Giovannangelo 85, Jim DeSantis 86, Woody Winslow 86, Chris Pierpont 86, Ron Cohen 86, Matthew Wilgocki 86, Jeff Barringer 87, Kevin McGinn 87, Mike Lor 88, David Mooradian Jr. 88, Dave DeMarco 88, David Smith 88, Greg Peterson 88, Peter Davis 88, David Bintz 89, David Alsdorf 89, Bob Muro 89, Jim Fazio 90, Connor Desjardins 90, Craig Schoonmaker 90, Calvin Kroll 90, Chris Dobson 91, Jonathan Albrecht 96, Greg Hilts 97, Mark Compton 97, Glenn Stopera WD.

SCHENECTADY WOMEN’S CLASSIC
Mary Diefendorf 76, Grace Kochan 81, Kelly McKenna 81, Kathy Canestrini 81, Nancy Kroll 81, Laura Couch 82, Rachel Barlette 83, Cindy LaFleur 83, Joann Pappas 84, Anne Poulin 85, Debra DiMaggio 88, Noreen Leonard 89, Kim Scheuer 89, Sue Mooradian 90, Ann Capobianco 91, Christine Guidarelli 91, Sandra Weckter 91, Sandy Morley 93, Rosebud DiGesare 94, Sharon Pike 94, Jamie Hall 95, Bonnie St. Denis 97, Anne Noonan 99, Mary Hettie 99, Carol Aiello 101, Debra Hinden 102, Liz SantaBarbara 102, Betsy Baker 104, Michelle Ryan 109, Barbara Barfield DQ.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].

Categories: Sports

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