LOUDONVILLE — It was wet out there.
Heavy rains Thursday night forced New York State Golf Association officials to change their plans for the opening round of the 37th NYS Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship Friday at Shaker Ridge Country Club. Instead of using tee times from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. for the elite 135-player field, it was decided to employ a 1 p.m. shotgun start and switch the groups from threesomes to foursomes. The later time gave Shaker Ridge CC’s staff more time to prepare the course.
Those changes made for a very long and challenging day, as the water-saturated layout played much longer than usual, and it took more than 5 1/2 hours for the competitors to complete their rounds. Many players barely finished in time as darkness forced officials to blow the horn signaling the end of play for the day. Some golfers were literally running to make sure they were able to tee off and complete their last holes of the round.
As players turned in their scorecards in the dark, only four managed to break par, with Ryan Foster of Schuyler Meadows Club and Jimmy Pizzutelli of Park Country Club sharing the lead with 2-under-par 69s. Carl Schimenti of Cornell University Golf Course and Bobby McCartney of the Rochester District Golf Association e-Club, are tied for second with 70.
Foster topped the 26 Capital Region players who made the cut. Sixty-three players made the cut overall for Saturday’s second round. There will be another cut to the low 30 and ties for Sunday’s final round.
“I bogeyed my last hole, which was No. 15, and we played in the dark,” Foster said. “We got to our last tee box really quickly to get at least one person to tee off so we could finish the hole after the horn,” he added. “But I got behind a tree stump with my drive and had to punch out. I didn’t get up and down.”
Foster, 40, rolled in four birdies against two bogeys.
“It was a tough day. The ball wasn’t traveling because it was so wet out there. Wherever the ball landed, it stuck,” Foster said. “But we did have some advantage on the greens, because we could stick our approach shots. It was just that a lot of those approach shots were longer than usual.
“I had a couple of bad putts and a couple of bad swings, but for the most part, I was happy. I also made a couple of putts that I wasn’t supposed to make, so it all evened out in the end.”
This is only Foster’s second NYSGA event. He also played in the NYS Men’s Amateur at his home course earlier this summer.
“I’m from the Boston area originally,” he explained. “My wife was originally from this area, and we lived in NYC for the last 16 years. But during the pandemic, we moved up here to Troy. We live near Emma Willard.”
Foster, who works in finance, owns a plus-2 handicap and said he loves playing out of Schuyler Meadows.
“I love that course. It’s fantastic. Plus, Schuyler has some tremendous players.”
Pizzutelli carded a 32 on the back nine and posted five birdies overall. Schimenti eagled the 13th hole and added two birdies. McCartney had the steadiest round of the day with 17 pars and one birdie on the 12th hole.
Jim Gifford of Mohawk Golf Club shot the second-best score among the locals with a 73. The multiple Saratoga County Amateur champion and two-time USGA national tournament competitor started slowly.
“It was a long day,” said the Shenendehowa High School and Siena College grad. “You had to stay focused out there. I was hitting it good, but I had a lip-out for birdie on two of my first three holes. Then I had a 3-putt, and another short birdie putt miss. I was 2-over-par when I should have been under par, but I put myself above the hole, and I know better than to do that.”
But Gifford finished strong.
“I missed numerous birdies inside of six to eight feet, but then I birdied the 15th and 17th holes to get me back into contention,” he said. “Playing in the dark, I bogeyed the second hole, and I just missed a birdie on No. 3, but it was OK. It was just a very long round,” he said.
Former CRAGA champion Joe Fitzsimmons of the home course wasn’t happy with the way he played, but he still managed to shoot a 74 and made the cut.
“I had three birdies on the fourth, 11th and 14th holes. I didn’t play that well,” said the former pro. “It was a tough, long day out there.”
Also shooting 74 were Dave Pallas of Saratoga Spa Golf Course, Joe Quijano of the Country Club of Troy, former CRAGA titlist and Tri-County Match Play winner Chad Stoffer of Town of Colonie Golf Course and Corey Purcell of Shaker Ridge CC.
Two-time NYS Men’s Senior Amateur champion and nine-time CRAGA titlist Dan Russo of Schuyler Meadows Club posted a 75, as did Mike Stopera of The Edison Club and Louis Walsh of Ballston spa CC.
Shooting 76 were Jason Urschel and Robert Feldman of Shaker Ridge CC and Tom McGinn of Wolferts Roost CC.
Former Schenectady Classic champion Aaron Simone of Pinehaven CC fired a 77 along with former RPI head golf coach Jamie Jackson of Shaker Ridge CC, Jeff Lewandowski of the CC of Troy, Kevin Cassidy of Normanside CC and former CC of Troy member Matt Clarke, who is a former NYS Mid-Amateur champion.
Former NYS Mid-Am winner Jim Welch of Olde Kinderhook, Don DeNyse of Capital Hills at Albany, Alex Olbrych of the NYSGA eClub-Capital District, Greg Stopera of Shaker Ridge CC, Edward Kinsley of Wolferts Roost CC and both Tom Salmon and Joe Marro of Shaker Ridge CC rounded out the area players who made the cut with 78s
Tee times will run from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. for Saturday’s second round.
Leaders — Jimmy Pizzutelli (Park CC) 69, Ryan Foster (Schuyler Meadows Club) 69, Bobby McCartney (RDGA eClub) 70, Carl Schimenti (Cornell University GC) 70, Chris Blyth (Locust Hill CC) 71, Darin Goldstein (Deepdale GC) 72, Jon Sherman (St. George’s G&CC) 72, Kyle Harman (East Park GC) 72, Brad Monroe (Onondaga G&CC) 73, Timothy Coykendall (Brook Lea CC) 73, Jim Gifford (Mohawk GC) 73, Joe Fitzsimmons (Shaker Ridge CC) 74, Corey Purcell (Shaker Ridge CC) 74, Joe Quijano (CC of Troy) 74, Chad Stoffer (Town of Colonie) 74, Dave Pallas (Saratoga Spa GC) 74, Daniel Gabel (Mahopac Golf & Beach Club) 75, Louis Walsh (Ballston Spa CC) 75, Jeff Wolniewicz (Crag Burn GC) 75, Dan Russo (Schuyler Meadows Club) 75, Mike Stopera (The Edison Club) 75, Danny Edwards (Timber Banks) 75, Chris Roeder (Brook-Lea CC) 75.
Other locals to make the cut — Tom McGinn (Wolferts Roost CC) 76, Jason Urschel (Shaker Ridge CC) 76, Robert Feldman (Shaker Ridge CC) 76, Ben Rublee (CC of Troy) 77, Matt Clarke (Cazenovia CC) 77, Jamie Jackson (Shaker Ridge CC) 77, Aaron Simone (Pinehaven CC) 77, Jeff Lewandowski (CC of Troy) 77, Kevin Cassidy (Normanside CC) 77, Joe Marro (Shaker Ridge CC) 78, Tom Salmon (Shaker Ridge CC) 78, Greg Stopera (Shaker Ridge CC) 78, Alex Olbrych (NYSGA eClub-Capital District) 78, Don DeNyse (Capital Hills at Albany) 78, Jim Welch (Olde Kinderhook GC) 78.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].
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