Albany County

Down the Fairway: Gifford tied for third at NYS Men’s Mid-Amateur

Jim Gifford of Mohawk Golf Club is tied for third heading into the final round of the 37th annual NYS Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Shaker Ridge CC. He’s five shots behind Carl Schimenti of Cornell University Golf Course. (NYSGA photo)

Jim Gifford of Mohawk Golf Club is tied for third heading into the final round of the 37th annual NYS Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Shaker Ridge CC. He’s five shots behind Carl Schimenti of Cornell University Golf Course. (NYSGA photo)

Jim Gifford was on a hot streak, and he wanted another birdie in the worst way heading into the final hole of the second round in the 37th annual NYS Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship Saturday at Shaker Ridge Country Club.

Unfortunately for the Shenendehowa High School and Siena College graduate, instead of a birdie, he suffered a triple bogey and found himself tied for third place, five shots behind leader Carl Schimenti of the Cornell University Golf Course. Schimenti posted his second consecutive 1-under-par 70 for a two-day total of 140. Jimmy Pizzutelli of Park Country Club is second with a 74-143, followed by Gifford (745) and Chris Blyth (74-145) of Locust Hill Country Club.

Gifford, 34, of Mohawk Golf Club, finished fourth at the 2019 NYS Men’s Mid-Amateur and tied for seventh at this year’s NYS Men’s Amateur at Schuyler Meadows Club.

Gifford’s triple bogey occurred when he overshot the final green and left himself with a difficult pitch shot near a bunch of bushes. His first chip came up short, and then his second one sailed long, leaving him a difficult bogey putt coming back up the hill. He ended up with a three-putt.

“I was feeling pretty good on the back nine,” said Gifford, who rolled in five birdies on the back nine. “From the seventh hole on, I didn’t have more than 20 feet for birdie on any hole. I was in between clubs, so I took a little off with more club. All of us in my group thought it would be close, but it ended up being too long, and it bounced off the hill and near the bushes. My second chip I got a little too greedy and I should have left it on top.

“I’m thinking another birdie on 18 and I could have taken the lead or been really close. A big number on the last hole never crossed my mind. But I compounded a bad decision, and it is what it is. I’m hoping for another birdie fest [today]. I’m still right there, but that hole was the one I wanted to avoid.”

Gifford said he desperately wants to win a NYS title. He’s been in the top 10-15 in his last seven attempts.

Meanwhile, Schimenti put together another strong round on a difficult layout.

 “It all starts with the greens being so quick here,” Schimenti said. “You’ve got to stay below the hole. When you do get above the hole, it’s tricky, and you have to lag the putt very carefully. Off the tee, I just tried to get it in play and leave myself good yardages. There are a lot of false fronts here,” he said. “That’s a well-designed feature of the greens here, in my opinion. I did a good job of controlling the spin of my approach shots and my speed on the greens.”

The 29-year-old Schimenti said he had back issues earlier in the season, but he’s feeling healthy now and is ready to challenge for some big-name tournaments outside of his own region.

The cut for Sunday’s final round was 10-over-par 152. Capital Region players who made the cut for the lowest 30 and ties included Joe Quijano of the Country Club of Troy (74-148), Louis Walsh of Ballston Spa CC (74-149), Corey Purcell of Shaker Ridge CC (75-149), first-round co-leader Ryan Foster of Schuyler Meadows (80-149), Aaron Simone of Pinehaven CC (73-150), Tom McGinn of Wolferts Roost CC (74-150), Joe Fitzsimmons of Shaker Ridge CC (76-150), Jason Urschel of Shaker Ridge CC (75-150), Dave Pallas of Saratoga Spa GC (77-151), Benjamin Rublee of the CC of Troy (75-152), Jeff Lewanowski of the CC of Troy (75-152) and Chad Stoffer of Town of Colonie GC (78-152).

RESULTS

(Par 71-142)

Leaders — Carl Schimenti (Cornell University GC) 79-140, Jimmy Pizzutelli (Park CC) 74-143, Jim Gifford (Mohawkl GC) 72-145, Chris Blyth (Locust Hill CC) 74-145, Michael Auberbach (Bellport GC) 71-147, Bobby McCartney (RDGA eClub) 77-147, Billy Hanes (Crag Burn GC) 72-148, Joe Quijano (CC of Troy{) 74-148, Brad Monroe (Onondaga G&CC) 75-148, Darin Goldstein (Deepdale GC) 76-148, Bill Moore (Bellevue CC) 73-149, Daniel Gabel (Mahopac G&B Club) 74-149, Louis Walsh (Ballston Spa CC) 74-149, Corey Purcell ({Shaker Ridge CC) 75-149, Ryan Foster (Schuyler Meadows) 80-149.

Other local players who made the cut – Aaron Simone (Pinehaven CC) 73-150, Tom McGinn (Wolferts Roost CC) 74-150, Joe Fitzsimmons (Shaker Ridge CC) 76-150, Jason Urschel (Shaker Ridge CC) 75-151, Dave Pallas (Saratoga Spa GC) 77-151, Benjamin Rublee (CC of Troy) 75-152, Jeff Lewandowski (CC of Troy) 75-152, Chad Stoffer (Town of Colonie GC) 78-152.

SANGER WINS MAJOR

Woodstock Golf Club head pro Chris Sanger, 35, won his third career Northeastern New York PGA major tournament when he captured his second NENY PGA Match Play Championship Wednesday afternoon with a 2-and-1 victory over Saratoga National Golf Club teaching pro Bob Cain at Normanside Country Club .

Sanger locked up the win when both he and Cain secured conceded pars on the par-3 17th hole after Sanger won both the par-3 13th hole and the par-4 15th hole with pars to grab a 2-up lead.

“People say I have a pretty boring game,” said Sanger, who was previously an assistant pro in this section at Red Hook Golf Club. “I tend to keep it in play and usually hit the ball either on the green or around it so I can get up and down most of the time for pars. I only had two bogeys all day today [including the semifinal round in the morning].”

Both Sanger and Cain said they enjoy the match play format.

“You don’t have to play great every round – or even every hole – in this format,” Sanger said. “He [Cain] made a couple of birdies early to take the lead, but then I took advantage of a couple of bogeys he had down the stretch. This is basically my second straight Match Play championship. I won it in 2019, but I couldn’t play last year because of the birth of my daughter.”

Besides his two NENY PGA Match Play crowns, Sanger also won the 2015 Donald Ross Classic at The Sagamore Resort and Glens Falls Country Club.

Cain, a Catholic Central High School and College of Saint Rose graduate, also had a great week of matches.

“I like match play a lot,” Cain said. “I can be a little erratic sometimes, but I can also put together some good streaks. I played well, but Chris played a little better. I made enough birdies, and I had the lead early, but he only made one bogey against me today. It’s different here. As far as we hit it, we had a lot of wedges to the greens, but there is a lot of fescue here now where it didn’t use to be, and if you hit the ball in there, you can get into some trouble. Those back-to-back par-3s on the back nine [the 12th and 13th holes] are tough. I bogeyed both of them today, and that was probably the difference in our match.”

Justin Hearly, assistant pro at Normanside CC, and Eagle Crest Golf Club head pro Scott Battiste were the other semifinalists.

Senior club professionals and assistant pros will compete in their respective match play tournaments Wednesday and Thursday at Wyantenuck CC in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The Tour Championship is set for Oct. 5-6 at the Country Club of Pittsfield.

CHIP SHOTS

Hales Mills CC is hosting the Spackler’s Impossible Pin Tournament Oct. 10 at 10 a.m. Entry fee is $55 for non-members and $45 for members. Total team handicap for the four-person scramble must be at least 40. Entry fee includes hot dogs at the turn and chili and hamburgers after golf. Call the pro shop at 518-733-4622 for more information.

The 2021 Bill Moll Triple Play Championship is set for Monday at Eagle Crest Golf Club. Two-person teams will compete in nine holes each of scramble, Chapman-alternate shot and best-ball formats. Entry fee is $240 per team. Team can consist of two amateurs or one amateur with one pro.

Also at Eagle Crest GC will be the 31st annual Scramblemania Oct. 8 at noon. Cost is $95 per player and includes golf, cart, beer, soda, pie and chili all day during play, appetizers, dinner and dessert after the tournament. There will be team gross and net prizes, as well as a skins game. Team handicap will be based on 10 percent of the total team handicap. All players must have established verifiable handicaps to be eligible for net prizes. Entries close Saturday.

Briar Creek Golf Course is hosting its October-Fest Oct. 8. Cost for the four-person scramble is $75 and includes golf, cart, lunch and a buffet dinner after the tournament. Beer and soda will also be included. There will be a Continental breakfast at 9 a.m., followed by a 10 a.m. shotgun start. Call 518-355-6145 to reserve your spot.

Country Club of Troy standout Sam Schuffenecker not only posted a women’s course record of 66 recently, but she is also competing this weekend at the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. She’s a former hockey player who played one season for the University of Albany women’s golf team.

At Schenectady Municipal Golf Course, the League of Champions tournament is set for Friday through Sunday with single-elimination matches. Also, the Bob Haggerty Two-Man Championship is scheduled for Oct. 9-10 with an entry fee of $150 per person. The entry fee includes a cart, lunch the first day and dinner the second day. Call Schenectady Municipal at 518-381-3155 for more information.

Oops. Following is a correction to last week’s column. Jim Brodie and his son, James, accomplished a rare father-son triple crown so to speak when they won the Wolferts Roost CC Member-Guest this year. They previously won the 2002 Schuyler Meadows Club Member-Guest and the 2013 Mohawk Golf Club Member-Guest. I incorrectly wrote the family name as Bowie, as in the frontiersman and pioneer famous for his special knife and being one of the legendary men killed at the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution. Since I just recently did some research on Bowie, I guess I subconsciously inserted the wrong name. I’m a big fan of American history, especially the wild west.

The Normanside 2-Man Invitational will be held Saturday and Sunday at Normanside Country Club. Entry fee is $300 per team and includes golf and cart. There are two divisions: open and senior (age 55 and older). The format will be better ball of partners. Contact Normanside CC (518-439-6204) for more information.

Airway Meadows Golf Club’s 23rd annual Oktoberfest Tournament is set for Oct. 10. Entry fee for the four-person scramble will be $120 for non-members. There will be a minimum of 72 players and a maximum of 144, with competition divided into three or four flights, depending on the number of entries. Entry fee includes golf, cart, lunch on the turn, beer, wine and soda from noon on and a steak & chicken dinner after. Call 518-792-4144 for more information.

HOLES-IN-ONE

Edson Lindsey aced the eighth hole with a pitching wedge from 100 yards at Cobleskill Golf & Country Club.

At Briar Creek Golf Course, Steve Fountain used a 7-wood for a hole-in-one on the 150-yard 11th hole.

At Mill Road Acres, Lori Valentini of the Happy Hookers league collected her first ace with a 3-wood on the 125-yard 12th hole.

EAGLES

Jim Bordis eagled the 10th hole at Saratoga Lake Golf Club from 144 yards out with a 9-iron.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected]

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