Steady Colonie Golf & Country Club head pro Frank Mellet has won virtually every major event in the Northeastern New York PGA, except for its section stroke play championship.
That could change today.
Mellet, a two-time NENYPGA Match Play champion who is having perhaps the best year of his career after turning 50, fired a two-under-par 70 Monday to grab a one-shot lead going into the final round at The Edison Club.
It won’t be easy for Mellet, however, as six players are within three shots of the lead, and another seven are within four shots.
Mellet, who leads the section’s player of the year chase, used crisp ball-striking to break par on a course known for its subtle-breaking and extremely challenging greens.
“Basically, I hit it in every fairway,” said Mellet. “I birdied the second, third and fourth holes right out of the box, but then I couldn’t get any other putts to fall.”
The only fairway Mellet missed was the 12th, and he missed only a pair of greens, the third and 18th, where he had his only bogey.
“I had many chances for birdies. The greens were rolling super quick, and the course was in excellent condition,” he said. “I played well. This is a nice course.
Everything is in front of you. It’s a very fair course. But with all the players this close, it’s going to be the guy who putts the best that is going to win. These greens require your complete attention.”
Tied for second with 71 are Albany Country Club assistant Matt Felber and Wyantenuck Country Club head pro Tom Sullivan.
“I’ve just got to keep it going in the right direction,” said Felber. “I made five birdies, including five on the back nine, but I lost a ball on the 17th hole, and it led to a bogey. That kind of took some of my momentum away.”
Felber got double-crossed on the dogleg-left 17th hole, and he lost his ball into the trees on the left.
Sullivan, 61, showed that you don’t have to be a long-ball hitter to contend at Edison.
“I’m pretty happy with my round. I was steady, and I hit a lot of fairways and greens. I had a couple of kick-in putts on the greens, and I only made one of any real length, about a 15-footer. The speed of the greens here is beautiful. All you have to do is get the ball started in the right direction. I just use all 14 of my clubs,” Sullivan said.
Matching even-par 72 were Edison assistant Nathan Kain, former player of the year Rick Pohle of Taconic Golf Club and Wolferts Roost assistant David Lis, while Mario Mason, another Edison assistant, shot a 73.
“I had three bidies and three bogeys,” said Kain, who earlier this month was one of two local qualifiers in the Professional Championship at Hiland. “My putter was working. These are some of the fastest greens I’ve putted on this year. I played very well on the front, and I played OK on the back. I hit some good putts that just didn’t go in.”
Pohle, who won the stroke play title in 1993, birdied the second, fourth and 17th holes but suffered a double bogey on No. 5.
“I don’t work that much any more on the physical game, but I work on the mental game and on course management,” said Pohle, who is also the head golf coach at Williams College. “I’m going to let the course come to me. This is not an overpowering course. If you put it in the fairway and on the greens, you will be OK, but if you try to get too aggressive, you can get in trouble.”
Frank Mellet (Colonie G&CC) 70, Matt Felber (Albany CC) 71, Tom Sullivan (Wyantenuck CC) 71, Rick Pohle (Taconic GC) 72, David Lis (Wolferts Roost CC) 72, Nathan Kain (Edison) 72, Mario Mason (Edison), Tom Falotico (Dick’s) 74, Jeremy Kerr (Mohawk GC) 74, Anders Mattson (Saratoga National) 74, Tom Siddon (Massena CC) 74, Peter Gerard (Mill Road Acres) 74, Bob Mucha (Greenock CC) 74, Tom Oppedisano (McGregor Links) 75, Don Brigham (Onteora) 75, Ian Breen (Colonie G&CC) 75, Kevin Hughes (Saratoga G&P) 75, Glenn Davis (Albany CC) 75, Marc Levesque (Columbia G&CC) 76, Brian Damon (Schenectady Municipal) 76, Steve Vatter (Albany CC) 77, Todd Manderson (Ballston Spa CC) 78, Paul Jaycox (Cobleskill G&CC) 78, Dan Spooner (Leatherstocking) 79, Matt Daley (Mohawk GC) 80, Craig McLean (Edison) 81, John Peterson (Eagle Crest) 82, Kent Tarkleson (Tark’s) 82, Gerald Fitzgerald (Dick’s) 84, Matthew Smith (Leatherstocking) 85, James Wasson (Craig Wood) 88.