SCHENECTADY — Familiar names dominated the tightly-packed leaderboard in the opening round of the annual Schenectady Senior Classic Thursday at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
Five of the top six players have won this event before, and only four shots separate them.
Although weather conditions were extremely hot and humid, with temperatures approaching 100 degrees, the scoring was excellent. Five-time titlist Jim Mueller carded a 4-under-par 68 to lead longtime rival Paul Pratico, a 4-time winner, by one shot heading into today’s final round.
Tom Salmon, the 2020 winner of this event for players age 50 and older, is next with a 70, followed by defending champion Lucas Sirois, former winner Mike Carroll and Paul Hart at even-par 72.
Neil Chambers, age 76, leads the super senior division for players 70 and older with a 69.
Twenty-one players made the cut at 78 or better in the senior division, while 11 made the cut at 80 or better in the super senior division.
Mueller, who also is tied with Pratico for the most regular Schenectady Classic titles with 8, was slightly disappointed with his round, despite the red numbers and grabbing the early lead.
“I’m not impressed,” said Mueller, who is known to be a perfectionist on the course. “I left more than a few [birdies] out there. I’m a little frustrated that I didn’t birdie the 12th and 16th holes with an iron in my hands for my second shot, but I would say the 68 was the worst I could have shot today.”
Mueller birdied the second, ninth, 11th, 13th and 14th holes.
He bogeyed the par-5 13th hole when his tee shot landed over the green.
Mueller was more demonstrative about his few mistakes than he was about his many excellent shots Thursday. “My tee shot on the 12th landed behind a tree on the right. I was able to hook my second shot around the tree, but I overcooked it,” Mueller explained. “I made a decent chip shot to the green but I missed the birdie putt.
“On No. 16, I blocked my tee shot. I hit my next shot right of the green and made another good chip shot, but I couldn’t make the putt,” he said. “But I really shouldn’t complain, because I putted pretty well today. I made a 35-foot bomb on the 13th hole for a birdie, but I had decent chances for eagle on both the second and ninth holes. I didn’t have any three-putts today, and I hit the ball pretty good.”
Pratico was satisfied with his round.
“It was solid,” he said. “I had three birdies and no bogeys. It’s always a pretty good round when you don’t have any bogeys. The only problem for me was that I didn’t get any birdies on the par-5s here, and the way the tees were up, that’s like getting a bogey.”
Pratico got off to a great start with a birdie on his opening hole. He added birdies on the fifth and 11th holes.
“It took me a while to figure out the speed of the greens today,” he said. “But it should be a great final group.”
The long-hitting Salmon, like Mueller and Pratico, is one of the few players who have won both the Schenectady Classic and the Schenectady Senior Classic. All three will be playing in the same group for the final round.
Sirois balanced his two birdies with two bogeys. “It could have been better, but it could have been worse,” he said.
Chambers, a regular competitor for several decades in Muni championship events, was thrilled with his performance.
“I hit the ball well, and more importantly, I putted well,” he said. “Playing the forward tees really helped. I would say the par from the forward tees was more like a 68 than a 72.”
Chambers birdied the fourth, ninth, 12th, 13th and 14th holes. He found the water hazard on the 10th hole resulting in one of his two bogeys. He also bogeyed the par-3 15th hole. He leads the super senior division by four shots over Johnny Bobo (73).
Made the cut – Jim Mueller 68, Paul Pratico 69, Tom Salmon 70, Paul Hart 72, Lucas Sirous 72, Mike Carroll 72, Chris Fatone 73, Jay Taub 73, Bill Paulsen 74, Dave Smith 74, Dan Conway 74, Mike Drake 74, Bob Guelzow 75, Bob Cooper 75, Steve Bass 76, Richard Sniffen 76, Ron Cohen 77, John Mendrysa 78, Walt Peretti 78, Paul Toth 78, Jim McKillip 78.
Missed the cut – Andy Bennett 79, Paul Pawlik 79, Jeff Barringer 79, Craig Schoonmaker 79, Dave Bintz 80, Dan Stopera 80, Darren Curtis 81, Mike Scott 81, Steve Foti 81, Mike Mina 81, Tom Christoffel 81, Moe Mroczkowski 82, William Harkins 82, Kevin Halburian 82, Robert Rogers 82, Gary Burton 83, Dave Sherman 83, Don Dobbs 83, Mike Pollock 83, Dave Stopera 84, Mark Noe 85, Joe DeLorenzo 85, Mike DiGiloramo 85, Chris Jewett 90, Pete Davis 93, Scott Sabourin 94, Jim DeSantis 95, Leon Schumacher 101, Jim Ring 102, Kevin Broderick NS.
SUPER SENIOR DIVISION
Made the cut – Neil Chambers, Johnny Bobo 73, Tim Ward 76, Woody Winslow 76, Tom Higgins 76, Richard Lackey 78, Ron Anzalone 79, Bill Welch 80, Dave Hwaszcz 80, Gary Reynolds 80, Joe Lazzari 80.
Missed the cut – Carl Gilbert 81, Mario Marino 81, Jack McDonald 83, Bill Perry 83, Peter Andrikopoulos 84, Tom Bush 87, Armand Amedore 89, Dave Sutphen 89.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected]
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