LOUDONVILLE — Carl Schimenti didn’t know he could make so many clutch shots when backed against the wall in the biggest tournament test of his career.
For 17 holes, the second-round leader didn’t want to know where he stood on the leaderboard for the 37th annual NYS Men’s Mid-Amateur Golf Championship. The 29-year-old member of Cornell University Golf Course held a 3-shot lead heading into the final round and that advantage expanded to five shots later in the round.
But Schimenti (76-216), who carded back-to-back 2-under-par 70s in the first two rounds, faltered down the stretch with bogeys on 15 and 16 and a double bogey on 17 after losing his tee shot. All of a sudden, his lead evaporated, and he needed to make a birdie to win the tournament or a par to earn a spot in the playoff with Chris Blyth (71-216) of Locust Hill Country Club.
Schimenti’s approach shot on the 18th hole landed on the top tier of the green, with the hole cut on the bottom tier. His birdie putt slipped 12 feet past the hole, and he needed to make the putt to extend the tournament. With a large gallery looking on, he sank the clutch par putt and eventually beat Blyth with a par on the second playoff hole after both players parred the first extra hole.
“Basically, the whole day I didn’t want to know where I stood,” Schimenti said. “But I stumbled down the stretch, and I asked my caddie where I stood before my tee shot on No. 18. I knew I had to make a birdie to win or a par to make the playoff. In my practice round, I knew that I wanted to use the middle of the green on that final green, and I just missed hitting the ball where I wanted to, and it didn’t come back toward the hole. That was a very hard putt on the top tier.”
Schimenti said he made a couple of bad swings and poor putts for bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes. Then he made an uncharacteristic bad tee shot swing on the 17th hole.
“I hit a very bad shot on 17, and I deserved what I got,” he said about losing his ball in the rough. “But I’m proud of the way I came back in the playoff. I made some good shots. I was playing really solid most of the day, but then I made some short-game mistakes on the back nine.
“This was a demanding course. The wind was up, and the greens were fast. I would say this is the best win of my career. There is not anything close to this for me.”
Blyth, 28, had much more major tournament experience than Schimenti. He finished runner-up at both the 2018 and 2019 NYS Men’s Amateur Championships and won the 2018 Rochester District Golf Association Championship. He was a three-time All-American on the St. John Fisher College golf team and led the Cardinals to four NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championship appearances and three top-10 finishes.
“When I realized Carl made that par for the playoff, I wasn’t surprised, but I didn’t think I would be in a playoff,” Blyth said. “I started the day five shots behind him, and I figured if he came back to me, I might have a chance, but I wasn’t expecting a playoff. Just getting into a playoff was good for me at this point,” he said. “But I just knew Carl would make that par putt. That’s what champions do.”
Blyth said he had to be careful on his short birdie putt on the first playoff hole, because it had a big break in it, and he had to lag the putt. On the second playoff hole, his birdie putt sailed well past the cup.
“My playing partner had the same putt during our round, and he had the same result. I mis-read the putt, and I miss-hit it, as well,” Blyth said.
Darin Goldstein, 40, of Deepdale Golf Club, finished third with a 4-over-par 217 total that included an excellent 69 in the final round. It was the only score under par for the day.
“Today I thought if I posted a 67 I would have a chance, as long as the wind blew hard and the other guys in front of me came back,” Goldstein said. “I missed my goal by two shots. I thought the course played fantastic all week. The greens were extremely fast, and they rolled great, considering how much rain they got this week. They did a great job getting this course in shape, and it played very tough, especially with the wind today.”
Goldstein’s impressive resume includes being named the Long Island Player of the Year five times. He was the Metropolitan Golf Association Player of the Year in 2018 and is heading over to Europe to play in his sixth MGA International Team competition.
Country Club of Troy’s Joe Quijano (75-223) led the Capital Region contingent with an eighth-place finish. Fellow CC of Troy member Ben Rublee (72-224) and Jim Gifford of Mohawk Golf Club (79-224) tied for 12th, while Louis Walsh of Ballston Spa CC (76-225) finished 15th.
Two-time NYS Men’s Senior Amateur titlist Dan Russo of Schuyler Meadows was a late disqualification on Saturday after he discovered that the optional slope rating on his range finder was accidentally left on without his knowledge. He alerted course officials of the rules infraction after his round.
x-Won on second playoff hole.
x-Carl Schimenti (Cornell University GC) 76-216, Chris Blyth (Locust Hill CC) 71-215, Darin Goldstein (Deepdale GC) 69-217, Billy Hanes (Craig Burn GC) 71-219, Jimmy Pizzutelli (Park CC) 76-219, Tim Coykendall (Brook Lea CC) 71-222, Michael Auerbach (Bellport GC) 75-222, Daniel Gabel (Mahopac G&B) 74-223, Bill Moore (Bellevue CC) 74-223, Joe Quijano (CC of Troy) 75-223, Bobby McCartney (RDGA eClub) 76-223, Benjamin Rublee (CC of Troy) 72-224, Brad Monroe (Onondaga G&CC) 76-224, Jim Gifford (Mohawk GC) 79-224, Louis Walsh (Ballston Spa CC) 76-225, Jim Hirsh (Kanan Valley CC) 74-226, Dave Pallas (Saratoga Spa GC) 75-226, Tom McGinn (Wolferts Roost CC) 76-226, Jeff Lewandowski (CC of Troy) 75-227, Jayson Clarke (Wayne Hills CC) 77-227, Alexander Kang (Harbor Links GC) 77-227, Jeff Wolniewicz (Crag Burn GC) 76-228, Chad Stoffer (Town of Colonie) 76-228, Timothy Saur (Oak Hill CC) 77-228, Joe Fitzsimmons (Shaker Ridge CC) 78-228, Ryan Foster (Schuyler Meadows) 79-228, Corey Purcell (Shaker Ridge CC) 79-228, Chris Roeder (Brook-Lea CC) 79-230, Jason Urschel (Shaker Ridge CC) 79-230, RJ Delmonte (Monroe GC) 79-230, Jon Sherman (St. George’s G&CC) 80-230, Michael Kitts (Onondaga G&CC) 80-230, Aaron Simone (Pinehaven CC) 80-230, Kyle Harman (East Park GC) 80-231.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected]
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