Red numbers in bunches are imperative if you hope to have any chance at all of winning the annual Stadium Classic, which has become the traditional kickoff for the area’s amateur golf season.
With a stellar field and a format perfectly suited for birdies and eagles, both members of the two-man teams are required to make their share of contributions. And that means even if you don’t have your “A” game, you better find some way of getting the ball into the cup, or you’ll be left behind.
Although Jim Welch struggled with his driver, he and Dave Pallas clicked for seven birdies en route to a six-under-par 65 in the final round to win their first title by two shots Sunday at Stadium Golf Club.
Welch, from Olde Kinderhook, and Pallas, out of Saratoga Spa State Park, have been runners-up in this birdie-fest event several times, but this weekend, they pulled out all the stops.
After carding a 10-under-par 61 in Saturday’s scramble format, they kept shooting for the pins when the format switched to best-ball on Sunday.
“We ham-and-egged it very well today,” said the 38-year-old Pallas. “Jim and I have played together in just about every two-man event there is in this area, and we’ve been doing it for a long time. He’s an amazing player.”
Welch, who won the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association’s Stroke Play Championship last year at Schuyler Meadows, birdied the ninth, 13th, 14th and 16th holes. Pallas added birdies on the fourth, 17th and 18th holes. They both bogeyed the 15th hole.
“The good thing about today was that we both had birdie putts on almost every hole. We had a lot of chances,” Pallas said.
“But Jim is unbelievable. He was having trouble with his driver, but he still made some unbelievable shots. On the 14th hole, he hit his tee shot way off-line, but then he said he had to try to find something. He hit an amazing approach shot to within a few feet of the cup, and then made the birdie.
“Jim is just a bulldog. He can manufacture all kinds of shots, even when he’s struggling.”
Welch continues to add to his spectacular resume. The former Skidmore College standout became one of the few active local players to win a state title when he won the 2011 New York State Mid-Amateur Golf Championship at Dutchess Golf & Country Club.
Known for his ability to grind out pars in tough conditions, Welch won the Eagle Crest Shoot-out a couple of years ago and also won the Troy Invitational, considered one of the best three-day scratch events in region, on three
occasions. Welch is also a former CRAGA Player of the Year.
“We played pretty well today,” Welch said. “I’ve been having trouble with my driver lately, but I’m hitting the ball very well with the rest of my clubs, especially my irons. My driver, though, hasn’t been very good.”
Welch said he hasn’t been able to play as much golf as he would like because he is so busy with his hospital linens company. He said he won’t be able to compete in next week’s Gazette Cup against the
local club pros from the Northeastern New York PGA.
Two teams tied for second at 14-under-par 128. Three-time Gazette County Amateur titlist Robby Bigley Jr. teamed with Shaker Ridge Country Club assistant grounds superintendent Todd Czepiel for a final-round 67, while multi-time CRAGA Player of the Year Dan Russo combined with fellow Rolling Hills Country Club member Billy Sullivan for a 65.
Bigley and Czepiel birdied the fourth, 13th and 18th holes, but the best shot of the day was Bigley’s ace on the 143-yard fifth hole. He used a pitching wedge for his seventh
career hole-in-one. Bigley also came within one inch of an eagle on the 18th hole when his chip shot from just off the green stopped one roll short of the cup.
Russo and Sullivan rode an eagle by Russo to their share of second.
Jim Male with Kurt Benedict (68-129) and Justin Deitz with Dave Gushee (65-130) rounded out the cashers.
Kevin Broderick and Paul Hart shot a final-round 69 for a two-day total of 129 to win the 10-team senior division.
Dave Pallas-Jim Welch 65-126; Todd Czepiel-Robby Bigley 67-128; Dan Russo-Bill Sullivan 65-128; Jim Male-Kurt Benedict 68-129; Justin Deitz-Dave Gushee 65-130; Mike Gifford-Jim Gifford 68-131; Jerry Brescia-Bill Paulsen 70-132; Matt Panneton-Chris MacDonald 68-132; Mike Wheeler-Tom Salmon 68-13; Kevin Cassidy-Justin McCarthy 68-133; Fred Guzielek-Doug Hart 68-133; Mike Quijano-Joe Quijano 67-133; Bob Gennarelli-Brian Long 69-134; Lance Hope-Ron Cohen 71-135; Jim Mueller-Mark Chylinski 71-135; Mark Keegan-Mike Stefanik 69-135; Ken Bessette-Steve Owens 70-136; Glenn Cunningham-Bryan Piche 66-137; Tom Eastwood-Nate Morra 75-138; Adam Trivilino-Trent Rivers 74-138; Seth Adams-Nick Longo 73-138; Mike Martin-Steve Mango 73-138; Mike McCarroll-Tom McCarroll 72-138; Mike Griffiths-Ryan Andrews 68-139; Dan Grignon-Christian Doring 73-139; Josh Barney-Dave Rutz 73-140; Kip Kirby-Josh Kirby 71-142; Vince Petraccione-Brandon Alois 75-143; Kurt Schnellbaecher-Justin Schnellbaecher 75-143; Charlie Twiss-David Wallace 75-143; Adam Bunkoff-Chris Reihs 77-143; Ryan Bailey-John Bailey 77-143; John Spagnola-Mark Squadere 72-144; Mike Saccocio-Stan Moore 74-144; John Courter-Tim Schlappi 76-149; David Betsch-Andrew Webb 83-151; David Farley Jr.-Ray Henry Sr. 80-151; Ryan Flatt-Nick Deck 89-169; Dave Hostig-John Corson NC; Mike DiNova-James Smith NC.
Paul Hart-Kevin Broderick 69-129; Al Stranahan-Jim Jewett 68-131; Earl Winchester-William McCarthy 69-133; George Hillenbrandt-Jay Taub 68-135; Bob Stranahan-Jim Geoghegan 66-135; John Gadani-Dave Acker 69-137; Mark Barton-Scott Hoerning 78-144; Todd Trepess-Drew Matoske 74-145; Rit Cimmino-Joe DeBlase 76-146; William Lovely-Jim Pautler 84-158.