Two of the steadiest players in the Capital Region proved to be a great partnership in the annual Bob Haggerty Jr. Two-Man Championship Sunday at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
Jim Welch, who has won virtually every individual major event in the area, and Chad Stoffer, a former Tri-County Match Play champion whose solid ball-striking makes him a contender in difficult conditions, fired a six-under-par 66 in the final round for a two-day total of 14-under-par 130 to win the championship flight.
Welch and Stoffer, who tied for third in the recent Gazette County Amateur, had just one bogey in 36 holes of the scratch best-ball partners event. They picked up their second win as a tandem, having won last year’s Wolferts Roost Invitational.
Muny regulars Lance Hope and Jay Singh finished a shot back with a 66-131. Chuck Connolly and Paul James won the senior division with a birdie on the second extra hole after shooting a 69-132 and tying Kevin Broderick and Paul Hart
(64-132). Connolly, a three-time New York State Senior Amateur titlist and the all-time leader in Eastern New York Golf Association triumphs, sank the clinching birdie in the playoff.
Greg Bennett and Paul Lundberg took the first flight with a 68-139, while Todd and Rodney Trepess captured the second flight with a 66-139.
“I usually play in this event with Mike McCarroll, and Jim usually plays all of his partner tournaments with Dave Pallas,” said Stoffer. “But neither of our partners could play, so we decided to team up. The same thing happened last year at the Roost, and it worked out well, because we won.”
Stoffer admitted that Welch carried the day with a birdie spree on Sunday.
“Jim played great both days. I hit it better today, but I couldn’t make many putts,” Stoffer said. “But Jim was solid both days.”
Welch birdied the first, second, 14th, 16th and 17th holes, while Stoffer added a birdie on No. 8.
“I think I was pretty consistent this weekend,” said Welch, a Skidmore College graduate who has three Troy Invitational titles, several Tri-County Match Play crowns, an Eagle Crest Shootout triumph and last year’s Capital Region
Amateur Golf Association’s Stroke Play Championship on his resume. He’s also a former New York State Mid-Amateur champion.
“This is the first time I’ve won this title, and I also picked up my first win in this year’s Stadium Classic,” said Welch. “I’m starting to win the best-ball tournaments now, but I hope that doesn’t mean I won’t be winning any more individual stroke-play events.
“Chad and I played well this weekend. He’s so steady that it frees me up to go after birdies. Chad had numerous birdie opportunities throughout the weekend. He’s a very good ball-striker, and he’s always in the hole.”
Welch agreed that he’s been having a very successful year, and he’s gearing up for this month’s New York State Amateur at Schuyler Meadows.
“When I’m playing well, I can usually push myself into a different gear,” he said. “I know my swing isn’t much. I have a homemade swing. It’s never pretty, but efficient.”
Hope and Singh made things interesting for the eventual winners, as they remained in contention throughout the final round and played in the same foursome.
“We had some good holes and some bad holes,” said Hope. “The thing that hurt us was that we had two bogeys, and you can’t do that in this kind of tournament. We were right in the thick of things, but when Jim chipped in for birdie on the 17th hole, it really hurt us.”
Hope had birdies on the third, 15th and 16th holes. Singh birdied the sixth, eighth and 18th holes along with an eagle on the par-5 12th hole.
Championship flight — Stoffer-Welch 66-130, Hope-Singh 66-131, Cohen-Stefanik 67-134, Brescia-Salvatore 66-134, Kirby-Marro 69-135, Bigley-Czepiel 70-136, Cassidy-Winchester 70-138, Wander-McGraw 73-142.
First flight — Bennett-Lundberg 68-139, Gilbert-Gilbert 69-140, Drake-DeMarco 71-141, Braman-Braman 70-141.
Second flight — Trepess-Trepess 66-139, J. Hillenbrandt-Allen 70-143, O’Connor-Rourke 72-145, Adams-Panneton 75-152.
Senior division — x-Connolly-James 69-132, K. Broderick-Hart 64-132, Taub-Feldman 69-134, J. Stopera-Comiskey 69-134 Cristello-Toomey 65-135
x-won on second playoff hole.