Golfers in the “zone” claim their muscle memory takes over when they repeat great swing after great swing, and the resulting confidence can help them shoot low scores.
Dan Russo of Rolling Hills at Antlers Country Club has been in that kind of zone for several weeks now, and he continues to ride the wave of red numbers.
The 53-year-old Hagaman resident carded a three-under-par 69 to capture the Edison Invitational Monday by two shots over Jay Gargiulo of the host club. It was his second major triumph in the last three days after winning the two-day Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Stroke Play Championship Friday and Saturday with a combined total of 10-under-par 134 at Schuyler Meadows. Russo, who has previously won both the CRAGA Stroke Play and the Edison Invitational in his long career, also recently broke the Amsterdam Municipal course record with a 63.
“I’m just trying to hit golf shots,” said Russo. “I’m definitely in a good groove right now. I don’t know how long it will last. It’s not like I’ve had a lot of time to practice, because I’ve been playing a lot. But I do hit balls when I’m warming up to play, and that’s like practicing.”
The Edison Invitational, the region’s top one-day, medal-play event for scratch golfers, used the first and third nines. Russo, who started the shotgun event on the seventh hole, birdied the 19th, 21st and 26th holes before coming back around on the front nine. He proceeded to birdie the second hole by hitting his wedge shot to within three feet on the 360-yard par-4 hole, and then easily reached the 487-yard, par-5 fourth hole in two and two-putted for another birdie.
One of his best par-savers was on his final hole of the day, the 430-yard sixth hole, designated the No. 1 handicap hole on the front nine. He pulled his tee shot behind some trees and had to hit a low hook to get back to the fairway. He reached the top of the hill, about 20 yards from the downhill green, and then chipped back down the hill, nearly holing out before making a three-foot putt to save par.
“I scored well today,” said Russo. “I got away with some shots, and you can do that on a shorter layout. The greens were nice and soft, but sometimes they are very hard to read. You really have to know these greens, because they have subtle breaks.”
Justin Deitz of the host club matched par with a 72, followed by Greg Bennett of Edison and Mike Wheeler of Colonie Golf & Country Club with 73s. Riley McGraw, Dave Huestis (McGregor Links) and Dave Hayes (Schuyler Meadows), who finished runner-up to Russo at the CRAGA Stroke Play, shot 74. Former Gazette County Amateur champion Tom Salmon of Shaker Ridge Country Club carded a 75.
For the first time, there were three divisions. John Deitz of the host club shot a 73 to win the Senior Division, followed by Matt Burke with a 74 and Al Nebolini, a three-time Gazette Senior County Amateur champion also out The Edison Club, with a 75.
In the Super Senior Division, Ray Darmstadt and Chuck Connolly of Hiland Golf Club each shot a 73, while Ralph Maru of Van Patten Golf Club was third with a 74, despite a two-shot penalty for hitting the wrong ball.
Open Division — Dan Russo 69, Jay Gargiulo 71, Justin Deitz 72, Greg Bennett 73, Mike Wheeler 73, Dave Huestis 74, Riley McGraw 74, Dave Hayes 74, Tom Salmon 75, Chris Gilbert 76, Mike McConnell 77, Jim Welch 77, Joe Macaluso 77, Jim Cocca 77, Kevin Cassidy 77, Bill Sullivan 78, Seth
Adams 78, Todd Czepiel 78, Bill Sullivan 78, Jim Bologna 78, Dave Pallas 79, Jim Gifford 80, Adam Boghosian 80, Alex Olbrych 81, Dave DeMarco 81, Chris Comi 81, Dave
Arakelian 82, Ron Cohen 82, Vince Fioravanti 82, Spencer Sautin 83, Matt Panneton 83, Greg Ducharme 85, Andy Petroff 85, Josh Powers 89.
Senior Division — John Deitz 73, Matt Burke 74, Al Nebolini 75, Doug Roche 76, Bill Paulsen 77, Mike Gifford 78, Brad Griffin 78, John Baker 80, George Murphy 80, Sal Romano 82, Kip Kirby 82, Dan Seiter 82,
Peter Andrikopoulos 82, Angelo Menegias 83, Dave LaFleche 83, John Kellogg 84, Bill Moll 86, Mario Marino 86, Bruce Oswald 88, Pete Connel 89, John Mendrysa 90, Jim Burton 92, Fred Marsh 95.
Super Senior Division — Ray Darmstadt 73, Chuck Connolly 73, Ralph Maru 74, Nick Lambros 76, Jim Mannix 77, Rich Myers 79, Don Maki 81.