GUILDERLAND — With a resume loaded with state championships and USGA national tournament appearances, Bellevue Country Club member Teresa Cleland can be considered a cut above even the most elite female golfers. She’s also very unique.
The Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame inductee has an extremely unusual putting style called side-saddling or face-on putting, and she used that method to post a 5-over-par 77 for a share of the NYS Senior Women’s Amateur Senior Division lead Tuesday at Pinehaven Country Club.
Tied with Cleland is her old college basketball rival, Kim Kaul of Aurora CC, who is a member of the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
“Kim and I are old college basketball rivals. I played for Niagara and she played for Canisius. Everyone in our group was a former state champion. It was a lot of fun with a lot of banter. We kept it light,” Cleland said.
Mary Scatena of the host club, who recently finished second in the NEWGA Championship and also won the Schenectady Women’s Classic in 2020, is a shot back (78) to lead the local contingent that includes six players in the top 10. Nancy Kroll of Schenectady Municipal GC, a former NYS Senior Women’s Amateur titlist as well as a seven-time NEWGA champion, is in fifth place after a 79, while this year’s NEWGA winner, Heidi Harkins of Ballston Spa CC, is another stroke back with an 80.
Three-time NEWGA winner Pat Mayne of Western Turnpike GC (81) is tied for seventh with three-time and defending champion Mary Sicard of Queensbury CC. Sue Kahler of Ballston Spa CC, another former NYS Senior Women’s Amateur titlist, is tied for 10th with an 82.
In the Super Senior Division for players age 65 and older, former NYS Women’s Amateur champion and six-time NEWGA titlist Mary Jo Kelly leads the pack with a 78, two shots ahead of Kathy Harkins of Ballston Spa CC.
Cleland is a seven-time NYS champion, having won three consecutive NYS Women’s Mid-Amateur crowns, two straight NYS Women’s Senior Amateur trophies and two NYS Senior Women’s Amateur Four-Ball titles. She has also qualified for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship 10 times among her 20 USGA tournament appearances.
“I never putted any other way,” Cleland said of her strange putting method that looks more like playing croquet than golfing. “In every other sport, like basketball or bowling, you face your target, but in golf you are looking at the hole from the side. So I tried putting like this with both feet on one side and facing the target. It works for me.”
Cleland said she played a guessing game for most of her round because she had never played Pinehaven CC before. The practice round might have helped, but it was canceled because of the affects from Tropical Storm Henri.
“I think I’ll use a different strategy [today],” she said. “My putter saved me from some of my mistakes today.”
Meanwhile, Kaul, a two-time NYS Senior Women’s Amateur winner and a runner-up in both the NYS Women’s Amateur and Women’s Mid-Amateur, said Pinehaven CC provided quite a challenge.
“It was in great shape, but after I made the turn I had a couple of double bogeys, and I was a little nervous,” she said. “But everyone in our group was a state champion. I knew that they were all capable of making a lot of birdies and going low, so I needed to keep pace in them.”
Sicard was also in that group, but she wasn’t happy with the way she played.
“I played terribly,” she said. “I couldn’t hit the fairway, and I couldn’t hit a putt. I scrambled a lot today. I was missing a lot of greens short, so I’ll have to recalculate for that. The course is in great shape though. I walked the course [Monday] and it was under water. It drained well. But I need to hit a fairway, then hit a green and two-putt. It’s very simple.”
Also hoping for a big comeback is Mayne, who couldn’t take advantage of her back-to-back birdies on the sixth and seventh holes.
“I had two double bogeys on the par-5s,” Mayne said. “I had an issue with one of my fingers, which I accidentally stabbed on Saturday, and it bothered me a little. But I had some other chances for birdies, and it was close. There’s always tomorrow. I definitely feel like I can shoot better than an 81. I’ve shot a 72 here before, so I know I can do better.”
In the other division, Kelly, once the most successful female golfer in the Capital Region, wasn’t satisfied with her round, even though the conditions were difficult.
“I don’t care what everybody else did. I’m disappointed with what I did today,” Kelly said. “I didn’t have a very good front nine. I missed a lot of putts, and I missed a lot of greens with short irons in my hand. I even missed the green with wedges or 9-irons. Then I didn’t get up-and-down. I hit a lot of 5-woods off the tee and only hit my driver three times today, yet I still had short irons in on nearly every green, and I should have hit every green in regulation in my opinion.”
The tournament wraps up today with the entire 120-player field teeing off with a 9 a.m. shotgun. There will be age-division champions for both gross and net in both the Senior and Super Senior brackets.
Leaders — Teresa Cleland (Bellevue CC) 77, Kim Kaul (East Aurora CC) 77, Mary Scatena (Pinehaven CC) 78, Carolyn Mancini (Binghamton CC) 78, Nancy Kroll (Schenectady Municipal GC) 79, Heidi Harkins (Ballston Spa CC) 80, Mary Sicard (Queensbury CC) 81, Tammy Blyth (Monroe GC) 81, Pat Mayne (Western Turnpike GC) 81, Ingrid Narken (McCann GC) 82, Sue Kahler (Ballston Spa CC) 82, Cindy Gomez (Colonial Springs) 83, Nan Lanahan (Pinehaven CC) 83, Karen Feldman (Olde Kinderhook GC) 84, Debra DiMaggio (Ballston Spa CC) 84, Vaso Kroto (Pendleton Creek GC) 85, Julie Hamm (Sodus Bay Heights GC) 85, Pennie Carlo (Crestwood GC) 86, Sandra Jackson (Whippoorwill Club) 86, Melinda Kuhn (Beaver Meadows GC) 86, Ella Kellogg (Glens Falls CC) 87, Shelly Pargh (Newman Municipal GC) 87.
Other local players — Penny Schiek (Hiland Park CC) 89, Cindy Walkanowski (Ballston Spa CC) 89, Mary Corrigan (Western Turnpike GC) 89, Heidi Vittengl (Glens Falls CC) 90, Anne Van Buren (Pinehaven CC) 90, Kathy Canestrini (Western Turnpike GC) 90, Joyce Bassett (Ballston Spa CC) 92, Anne Oakley (Windhan CC) 94, Cindy Lafleur (Pinehaven CC) 94, Kelly Meader (Queensbury CC) 95, Renie Gadani (Normanside CC) 100, Colleen Johnson (Queensbury CC) 102, Paula Laime (Ballston Spa CC) 103, Jody McQuiston (Ballston Spa CC) 108.
SUPER SENIOR DIVISION
Leaders — Mary Jo Kelly (Wolferts Roost CC) 78, Kathy Harkins (Ballston Spa CC) 80, Lynn Quinn (Clifton Springs CC) 80, Deborah Enders (Links at Erie Village) 81, Kitty Colliflower (Oak Hill CC) 82, Leslie Arakelian (Orchard Creek GC) 84, Colleen Rutt (NYSGA eClub-Western NY) 84 Linda Sturges (Oswego CC) 84, Beth Currier (Queensbury CC) 84, Lindley Bowen (Pendleton Creek GC) 86, Wendy Bolton (LPGA Amateur Association-Rochester) 86, Sheila Vergith (Chautauqua GC) 88.
Other local players — Maxine Tucker (Ballston Spa CC) 89, Kate Oppedisano (Ballston Spa CC) 90, Ann Capobianco (Pinehaven CC) 90, Cindy Delappa (Queensbury CC) 91, Sandra Weckter (Pinehaven CC) 91, Jamie Hall (Pinehaven CC) 92, Bonnie St. Denis (Pinehaven CC) 93, Mary Assey (Ballston Spa CC) 93, Sandy Morley (Burden Lake CC) 93, Christine McKnight (McGregor Links CC) 94, Linda Kolnick (Canajoharie CC) 94, Noreen Leonard (Western Turnpike GC) 95, Lisa Sunkes (Western Turnpike GC) 97, Sue Moses (Ballston Spa CC) 99, Elaine Neiss (The Edison Club) 99, Pat Joseph (Ballston Spa CC) 100, Linda Doody (Western Turnpike GC) 102, Lynn Cummings (Pinehaven CC) 103.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected]
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