VOORHEESVILLE — Colonie Golf & Country Club’s long yardage and wet conditions played right into defending champion Rachel Barlette’s hands during the opening round of the Northeastern Women’s Golf Association Championship Tuesday.
While most of the field pointed out that the course played extremely long for them because of all the recent rain, the big-hitting Barlette of Shaker Ridge CC used her booming tee shots to post a 5-over-par 78 for a two-shot lead over Heidi Harkins of Ballston Spa CC.
Schenectady Women’s Classic champion Laura Couch of Mohawk Golf Club was a shot back with an 81, while seven-time NEWGA titlist and former NYS Women’s Senior Amateur winner Nancy Kroll of Schenectady Municipal Golf Course, former Schenectady Women’s Classic victor Mary Scatena of Pinehaven CC and Nan Lanahan, also of Pinehaven CC, each shot an 83 to remain in the title chase.
The leaders will tee off at about 10 a.m. Wednesday in the final round.
Barlette, a former swimming standout and a Hobart & William Smith graduate who took up golf relatively late in life, said she battled a few nerves on the first tee but quickly settled down.
“I remember getting an 11 on my first hole here a few years ago, but I came back to finish second,” she said. “I started with a bogey on my first hole today, but I considered that a victory.”
At 34, Barlette is the youngest full-time player in NEWGA, and she knew her length off the tee would come in handy at Colonie G&CC.
“I didn’t mind the length of this course at all,” she said. “I drove the ball pretty well, although I did have a few errant drives, and those are the holes I had my few bad holes on. Overall, I putted very well. The key for me here is that I got the speed of my putts down, and I usually had just a tap-in par on most of the holes. I didn’t have any three-putts today.”
Barlette didn’t register any birdies, but she connected for 14 pars. Her only miscues were four missed greens. An errant drive on the par-5 13th hole resulted in a double bogey, and she also bogeyed three other holes.
“Really, it was a boring round,” she said. “But for me today, I really felt confident. After feeling just a little hesitant on that first hole, I regrouped and just tried to stay patient the entire round. I think the amount of tournaments I’ve played has helped my game tremendously.”
Heidi Harkins, who owns the lowest handicap in the field at 3.9, rolled in two birdies and stayed out of trouble for the most part, but she echoed the main theme of nearly all the competitors.
“The course just played very long. It’s a pretty long course to begin with,” she said.
Three other former champions in the nine-player first flight, two-time winner Sue Kahler and Kathy Harkins of Ballston Spa and Ella Kellogg of Glens Falls, struggled with 85, 88 and 92, respectively. But both Kahler and Harkins (with a chip-in), birdied the 18th hole to finish on a high note.
Other flight leaders were Jennifer DiIorio of Burden Lake CC (89 in the second flight), Sandy Morley of Burden Lake CC (97 in the third flight) and Carol Preusser of Copake Country Club (98 in the fourth flight).
First flight — Rachel Barlette 78, Heidi Harkins 80, Laura Couch 81, Mary Scatena 83, Nancy Kroll 83, Nan Lanahan 83, Sue Kahler 85, Kathy Harkins 88, Ella Kellogg 92.
Second flight — Jennifer DiIrio 89, Debra DiMaggio 91, Heather Morrison 91, Anne Oakley 91, Cindy Walkanowski 96, Kathy Canestrini 99, Kimberly Skiga 100, Peg Squazzo 101.
Third flight — Sandy Morley 97, Diane Delamater 102, Donna Heskett 103, Jane King 103, Sandra Weckter 103, Mary Kruchinski 104, Christine McKnight 104.
Fourth flight — Carol Preusser 98, Myra Johnson 102, Bonnie St. Dennis 102, Mary Assey 103, Diane Busa 107, Kelly Gordon 109, Christine Brown 110, Selena Balick 110, Debra Gordon 120.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected]
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