Down the Fairway: Local women succeed in New York State Golf Association major tournaments

Nicole Criscone of Clifton Park is one of three Albany Academy for Girls players competing in the New York State Women’s Amateur Championship Monday and Tuesday at McGregor Links Country Club. (Photo provided)

Nicole Criscone of Clifton Park is one of three Albany Academy for Girls players competing in the New York State Women’s Amateur Championship Monday and Tuesday at McGregor Links Country Club. (Photo provided)

Local women have won more than their share of New York State Golf Association major tournaments, and this week’s 91st annual NYS Women’s Amateur, coupled with the 12th NYS Women’s Mid-Amateur held concurrently at McGregor Links Country Club, is no exception.

Latham’s Bailey Cocca, now Bailey Czub, was the last Capital Region representative to win the NYS Women’s Amateur at Elmira CC in 2016. That was 27 years after Tiffany Maurycy, daughter of the legendary longtime Mohawk Golf Club head pro John Maurycy, captured that prestigious crown in 1989 at McConnesville GC.

But although the titles are spread out over the long history of this event, locals have fared extremely well.

Albany’s Peggy Delahant won the 10th NYS Women’s Amateur at Oak Hill CC in 1939 to get the local success story started. The late Gail Purdy of Glens Falls secured two NYS Women’s Amateur crowns in the span of three years (1961 and 1963) before Dianne Wilde of Amsterdam took three state trophies in 1965, 1971 and 1973. Another Amsterdam standout, Sara Jane Stuhler, triumphed at Corning CC in 1975.

Mary Jo Kelly, who has dominated women’s club titles at Wolferts Roost for 25 years and won numerous other area titles, picked up her NYS Women’s Amateur crown in 1980 at Foxfire CC. The very next year, Dottie Pepper captured that title at Rome CC. She would go on to become the Capital Region’s most successful female golfer and arguably its best golfer period, winning 17 times on the LPGA Tour.

In recent years, local women have also been extremely successful in the NYS Women’s Senior Amateur and Super Senior divisions.

Mary Sicard of Lake George, who is entered in the Mid-Am division for next week’s event, has three NYS Women’s Senior Amateur titles on her resume (2016, 2017 and 2019).  Niskayuna’s Sue Kahler, a longtime club champion at Ballston Spa CC, won her NYS Women’s Senior Amateur crown in 2013, a year before Schenectady’s Nancy Kroll triumphed at Kanon Valley CC.

Other locals to win the NYS Women’s Senior Amateur trophies are Albany’s Margaret Frank (1958 at Oneonta CC), Loudonville’s Anne Coupe (1965 at Lakeshore CC) and Lois Destalto of Saratoga Springs (1989 at Onondaga G&CC).

Although the NYS Women’s Amateur Super Senior division only began in 2007, locals own thee titles. Brophy won in 2007 and 2008, while Kelly won last year at Pinehaven CC.

STRONG AREA CONTINGENT

This year’s NYS Women’s Amateur and NYS Women’s Mid-Amateur includes more than 20 Capital Area representatives.

The NYS Women’s Amateur field will compete for 54 holes, including 36 on Monday, after which there will be a cut to the low 30 players and ties. All the players in that field must walk.

The NYS Women’s Mid-Amateur contingent plays just 36 holes, 18 each day. There won’t be a cut, and players in that division may use a cart.

Kennedy Swedick, the 15-year-old standout from Albany Academy who won this year’s NYSPHSAA Girls’ Championship at the same McGregor Links CC layout, will be one of the players to watch, despite her age. She is coming off a big weekend after competing with the pros in the Epson Tour’s Twin Bridges Championship.

Albany Academy teammates Nicole Criscone of Clifton Park and Samantha Van Rohr of Loudonville are also in the field.

Other locals include Albany’s Rachel Barlette, a former NEWGA champion who won this year’s Schenectady Women’s Classic; Maria Jackson of Ballston Spa CC, former NEWGA winner Ella Kellogg of Queensbury, Albany’s Kelly, Hayden Knapp of Gansevoort, Grace Kochan of Niskayuna, Michelle Krasodomski of Schenectady, Abigail Laime of Ballston Spa, Schuyler Lorete of East Greenbush, Jillian Rawson of Slingerlands, Abigail Rehfuss of Albany, Samantha Schuffenecker of Troy, Sicard of Lake George, Kimberly Skiba of Rexford, Dannah Smith of Schenectady, Mollie Thomas of Saratoga Springs, Heidi Vittengl of Queensbury  and Sienna Wheeler of Schenectady.

Despite the large and talented local group, this year’s NYS Women’s Amateur and Mid-Amateur titlists could very well come from outsiders. Kyra Cox of South Salem is the defending champion and also won in 2015 and 2018. In the Mid-Amateur division, defending champion Christy Schultz of Rochester has two NYS Women’s Am victories to her credit, and she’s secured the Mid-Am crown three times. Teresa Cleland of Syracuse is also a three-time Mid-Am winner.

LI STILL IN FRONT IN TWIN BRIDGES

California native Lucy Li, the tour’s leading money winner, backed up her first-round of 66 with a 68 Saturday and leads the Epson Tour’s Twin Bridges Championship with a two-day total of 8-under-par 134 at Pinehaven Country Club.

Li rolled in five birdies against two birdies. She leads Sweden’s Linnea Strom (66-137), second on the money list and a two-time champion on the Epson Tour, by three shots heading into Sunday’s final round.

Rounding out the leaders are Nishtha Madan (69-138), Maggie Ashmore (68-139), Grace Kim (70-139) and Milagros Chaves (79-139).

The busy Swedick shot a 76 for a two-day total of 153 and missed the cut for the top 60 and ties. The winner earns $30,000 out of a total purse of $200,000.

WELCH EXPANDS RESUME

Jim Welch of Olde Kinderhook, a Skidmore College graduate whose resume already included a NYS Mid-Amateur championship, several Troy Invitational, Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Stroke Play and Tri-County Match Play titles, picked up his first Saratoga Men’s County Amateur title last week at Eagle Crest Golf Club and Saratoga Spa State Park Golf Course, respectively.

The 20th annual event dropped its Saratoga County residency requirement for the first time this season. Welch connected for five birdies in a final-round 69 for a two-day total of 141, edging three-time Schenectady Classic winner Ben Bates (71-74—145) and Travis Koch of Saratoga National (72-73—145) by four shots. Former champ AJ Cavotta (74-72—146) and Josh Hilderbrand (70-78—148) rounded out the top five.

Jim Mueller, an eight-time Schenectady Classic winner, won his first Saratoga County Men’s Amateur senior title with a 67-71—138, to beat Tim Bean (72-76—148) and Dave Smith (75-76—151). Doug Roche (77-76—153) and multiple former champion Bill Paulsen Jr. (77-78—155) rounded out the leaders.

CAVOTTA MEDALIST

Anthony Cavotta, a Saratoga Springs High School graduate, fired a 3-under-par 69 to grab medalist honors at the local qualifier for the NYS Men’s Amateur Golf Championship this week at Colonie G&CC.  The Men’s State Am is set for August 9-11 at Onondaga G&CC.

Rounding out the qualifiers were Tom McGinn (Wolferts Roost CC), 70; Nolan Crowley (Saratoga G&P) 71; Ryan Miller (NYSGA eClub-Capital District) 73; Max Klein (MGA eClub-New York City) 73; Kellen Dean (McGregor Links CC) 74; Austin Teal (Schuyler Meadows) 74; Brandon Teclor (Saratoga National) 74; David Ioele (Saratoga National) 74; Will Braxton (McGregor Links CC) 74; Clarkie Carroll (Glens Falls CC) 74; Louis Walsh (Ballston Spa CC) 75; Richard Christman (Shaker Ridge CC) 75; Thomas Kenneally (The Edison Club) 75; Ben Swartz (Kingsbury National) 75; Andrew Weise (Town of Colonie) 75; Aidan Fitzgerald (Capital Hills at Albany) 75. Paul Goetz of The Edison Club also qualified as the medalist from the Utica/Rome local qualifier.

CHIP SHOTS

Local club pros from the Northeastern New York PGA compete in their Pro Classic No. 4 Monday at Waubeeka Golf Links.

Hales Mills Country Club’s 2-Person Dash for the Cash Tournament will be held July 30 with a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start. The format will be nine holes of best-ball and nine holes of scramble. There will be gross and net prizes, but teams can’t win both. All players must have an established GHIN handicap index. Top prize will be $500. Entry fee is $150 per team and includes hot dogs and hamburgers at the turn. Call 518-736-4622 for more information.

UAlbany’s Claudia Blochliger, Mariel Tee, Amber Thornton and Madison Walker earned All-American Scholar honors from the Women’s Golf Coaches Association. Isabella Diaz, Emily Nash, Margot Osterman, Manoela Barcellos and Jillian Barend earned the same honors from Siena College.

The McGregor Links Invitational is scheduled for July 29-30. There will be three scratch divisions and will be limited to the first 54 teams that sign up. Entry fee is $350 per team and will include golf, cart and prize money. The championship division will play from the gold markers, the senior division will play from the white tees and the legends division will play from the white/green tees. Top prize will be $900 for all three divisions. For more information, contact McGregor Links CC head pro Michael Decker at 518-584-6664 or [email protected].

The Debbie Fawcett Memorial, to benefit the Empire Youth Open and local scholarships for youth bowlers, will be held Aug. 6 at 9 a.m. at Cobleskill G&CC. It will be a four-man scramble.  Entry fee is $125 a person and includes lunch at the turn and a dinner buffet after golf. For reservations, contact Chris Fawcett at 518-852-9372.

Schenectady Municipal Golf Course will host the 14th annual Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame Golf Tournament Sept 18. The format will be a modified four-person scramble. Entry fee is $420 per foursome and includes golf, cart, buffet and prizes. This event is named after SCSD Hall of Fame member Pete Famiano. Call Bob Pezzano at 518-346-9297 for more information.

The second annual 9 & Dine Golf Scramble, to benefit To Love a Child, Inc., will be held July 22 at Fairways of Halfmoon Golf Club. There will be registration at 3:15 p.m., followed by a 4 p.m. shotgun start. Entry fee is $85 and includes nine holes of golf with cart, prizes, an Italian buffet dinner and a cocktail hour. There also will be a themed basket auction and a 50/50 raffle. For more information, contact To Love a Child, P.O. Box 165, Clifton Park, NY 12065, or call 518-859-4424. Proceeds will benefit Food Forests & Clean Water in Zimbabwe and Thyme to Thrive Educational Programs in the Capital Region.

The 28th annual RPI Men’s Hockey Golf Tournament will be held Aug. 8 at Shaker Ridge CC. The tournament will have a 10 a.m. shotgun start. Golf, cart, beverages and snacks on the course, dinner and a raffle/live auction are included in the entry fee. For more information, visit the registration page at rpiathletics.com.

HOLES-IN-ONE

Former Skidmore College men’s basketball coach and SUNY Adirondack athletic director John Quattrocchi is having a successful summer at his home course, McGregor Links CC. Quattrocchi recorded his second career ace with an 8-iron on the 135-yard 13th hole and also eagled the 390-yard par-4 10th hole by holing out his second shot with a 6-iron.

EAGLES

Tom Heffernon of Rotterdam eagled the par-5 481-yard fifth hole at Eagle Crest Golf Club.

At Schenectady Municipal Golf Course, Paul Quivey and Lee Quivey both eagled the same par-5 12th hole while playing in the same group.

Rich Duda eagled the par-5 13th hole at Mechanicville Golf Club with a driver, 9-iron and 5-hybrid. Also at Mechanicville Golf Club, PJ Riley eagled the 460-yard par-5 fourth hole with a driver, 3-wood and wedge.

At Airway Meadows, Tricia Lockwood recorded an eagle-2 on the seventh hole.

Jack Schanz eagled the par-5 15th hole at Briar Creek.

Anne Van Buren and Lynn Burke both eagled the par-4 10th hole on back-to-back shots Tuesday at Wyantenuck CC.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].

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