On a day when scores soared in gusting winds, Chuck Connolly settled for the consolation prize.
Connolly, a three-time overall senior champion and second-round leader, earned his third straight “Super Senior” crown for players 65 years of age and older, but settled for third place at the 56th annual New York State Senior and Super Senior Amateur Golf Championship Friday at Wolferts Roost Country Club.
Connolly, 67, struggled with a nine-over-par 79 in the final round for a three-day total of 222, but he still ended up just two shots behind 57-year-old Steve Nosonowitz (76-220) of McCann Golf Club. Randy Young of Bellevue Country Club was the overall runner-up with a 74-221.
Connolly, from Kingswood Links Golf Club, won the Super Senior division by five shots over Dale Dirk of Blue Heron Hills Country Club. Ray Kelly of the host club was third with a 71-228, while Joe Quillinan of Olde Kinderhook was tied for fourth with a 79-233.
“I got off to a shaky start,” said Connolly, owner of more than 200 Eastern New York Golf Association victories and 23 club championships. “It’s hard to turn it around sometimes. I had four chances for birdie that I missed inside of 10 feet, and I also missed four short par putts inside the same distance because of some bad reads. I was going in the wrong direction.”
But despite his struggles, the former Queensbury High School track and field coach was still in contention after making a birdie on the 17th hole to claw within one shot of Nosonowitz heading into the final hole.
“I knew exactly where I stood,” he said. “I knew I was one back on the 18th tee, so I pulled out a driver to try to hit the ball as close as I could to the green. I’m not sure that was the best thing to do, but I was trying to put some pressure on him.”
Connolly’s tee shot went left, and his approach shot from the adjacent fairway landed in the greenside bunker. He failed to get up and down for par. Meanwhile, Nosonowitz nailed his tee shot down the middle with a hybrid and hit his gap wedge from 104 yards to within 15 feet of the cup. He neatly two-putted for the par and the victory.
“I had a tough today,” Connolly said. “But I was still in position to do something at the end. To be my age and still be competitive is nice, but I would have loved to have another title. Winning the Super Senior title three years in a row is a nice consolation, though.”
For Nosonowitz, it was his second state title after winning the 1991 New York State Mid-Amateur.
“The wind was swirling, and it affected all of our shots, even the putts,” he said. “It was hard out there today. I was just taking my licks and trying not to get upset. Everybody was struggling, and these are the best senior golfers in the state.”
Nosonowitz suffered a double bogey on the par-3 15th hole, and it could have cost him the title. But he remained calm.
“I’ve been playing this game for a long time, and I’ve had a lot of double bogeys. I just tried to take it and forget about it,” he said.
“I was nervous at the end, but it was a good feeling. I learned a lot about myself in competition, even though I’ve played in a lot of these over the years. My nerves are not what they were when I was 20, but I managed to calm myself down.
“It’s very satisfying to win a state championship of any kind. I’m very fortunate to win.”
Three other Capital Region golfers finished in the top 10 overall: two-time Gazette County Amateur champion Bob Cooper of Orchard Creek (tied for sixth, 73-224), Kevin Broderick, also of Orchard Creek (74-224) and Paul Lundberg of Shaker Ridge Country Club (tied for 10th, 75-227). Bill Paulsen Jr. of Eagle Crest Golf Club tied for 12th (78-228).
“I think probably the pressure of playing in this event made the scores higher, because I didn’t think there was that much more wind than there was [Thursday],” said Cooper, whose 73 was one of the best rounds of the day. “But the wind makes you think. I hit the ball very well Thursday, but didn’t putt that well. Today, I putted much better. I hit just one bad shot, and it cost me a bogey.”
Leaders — Steve Nosonowitz (McCann GC) 76-220, Randy Young (Bellevue CC) 74-221, *-Chuck Connolly (Kingswood Links) 79-222, Jim Hamburger (McCann GC) 73-223, Todd Dischinger (Foxfire GC) 77-223, Frank Plata (Cazenovia CC) 73-224, Bob Cooper (Orchard Creek) 73-224, Kevin Broderick (Orchard Creek) 74-224, Curt Reimer (Webster GC) 76-226, Paul Lundberg (Shaker Ridge CC) 75-227, *-Dale Kirk (Blue Heron Hills GC) 78-227.
Other Capital Region players — Ray Kelly (Wolferts Roost CC) 71-228, Bill Paulsen Jr. (Eagle Crest GC) 78-228, Paul Hart (Pinehaven CC) 79-229, Jim Cocca (Shaker Ridge CC) 76-231, Glenn Stopera (Amsterdam Municipal GC) 7 8-232, Joe Quillinan (Olde Kinderhook) 79-233, Scott Wood (Columbia G&CC) 77-234, Patrick Seelye (Hiland GC) 80-234, William Lebeau (Van Schaick Island CC) 77-235, Peter Spitalny (Colonie G&CC) 80-236, Francis Gavin (Columbia G&CC) 79-239, Earl Winchester (Shaker Ridge CC) 81-240, John Reagan (Western Turnpike GC) 82-240, Ralph Maru (Van Patten) 80-241, Paul Matties (Columbia G&CC) 85-241, Robert Hatch (Glens Falls CC) 85-247, Bruce Oswald (Shaker Ridge CC) 86-250, Mike Mina (Shaker Ridge CC) 87-250, Jim Reid (Shaker Ridge CC) 84-252, Kevin Justice (Pinehaven CC) 86-252.