Stadium Golf Club head pro John Souza has two passions outside of his family: golf and road racing.
Since he enjoys running longer distances rather than sprints, it’s not surprising that he picked up his first professional golf victory in a two-day tournament instead of the usual one-day events the local club pros play.
After shooting a seven-over-par 77 in the opening round, Souza carded a sizzling four-under-par 66 in the second round and then birdied the first extra hole to beat defending champion and first-round leader Bob Mucha of Greenock Country Club in a playoff to win the Cobleskill Pro-Am Classic Monday and Tuesday at Cobleskill Golf & Country Club.
“I was nine back when I started out,” said Souza, who only began playing regular Northeastern New York PGA events last year when he earned his Class A card, which gave him complete playing privileges.
“On the first day, I hit the ball well, but I couldn’t make anything. I was playing with [Colonie G&CC assistant pro] Ian Breen, and neither one of us could make any putts. On the second day, I knew I was already seven-over-par, so I just began to fire at the pins. I knocked them in pretty close, and I made just about everything.”
Souza birdied the first two holes on Tuesday, and then added two more birdies on the fifth and sixth holes, respectively. When he birdied the par-5 ninth, he was already five-under-par at the turn.
“I knew the back nine was a lot tougher than the front nine. I was just trying to hold on,” he said. “I didn’t think I had any chance to win. I was just hoping to cash. I basically made every putt I looked at.”
Souza said key up-and-down pars on the 14th and 16th holes kept his momentum going.
“I was very surprised when I came in. The other guys kind of came back to me,” he said.
“I really didn’t think I hit the ball any different in the second round than I did in the first, but I was 11 shots different.”
Souza said he wasn’t even nervous when the playoff started.
“I figured I was coming off a round where I couldn’t miss, and Bob was coming off a round where he wasn’t playing as well as he wanted,” said Souza. “Bob ended up making a good two-putt par on that first extra hole, but I made a breaking birdie putt, and it was over.”
Souza knows how a player’s game can change every day, so he’s not expecting to all of a sudden become a major factor on the NENYPGA tour. But he is happy that he finally broke through for his first pro win.
“I’m definitely more confident and happy that I won,” he said. “It wasn’t a very big tournament, but it was a two-day event, and I think I’m more comfortable knowing that I had more time to bounce back from a rough start. In the first round, I made a double bogey on the first hole. I was kind of tight. But I also knew that I had two full rounds to come back.”
Just enough time for his late kick.
FAMIANO TOURNEY SET
It’s not too early to start thinking about the Peter Famiano Memorial Golf Tournament, set for Sept. 8 at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
The event is held in honor of the late Schenectady City School District Hall of Fame member who was an integral part of Linton’s 1960 state championship team. Famiano, also a member of the New Jersey PGA Hall of Fame, was the 1961 New York State Junior Amateur champion.
The golf tournament is part of this year’s Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame festivities, with the induction dinner being held the next day. Entry fee is $300 per foursome, and includes golf, cart, continental breakfast and a buffet following golf.
The scramble starts at 9 a.m., and there will be gross and net winners. Call Bob Pezzano (346-9297) for reservations. Entry deadline is Aug. 23. The tournament will be limited to the first 28 foursomes.
Jim Welch of Olde Kinderhook, a former Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Stroke Play champion and Player of the Year, leads the CRAGA points standings with 212.16.
Welch, who was in contention to win his fourth title at this year’s Troy Invitational, also won a pair of best-ball tournaments in the Stadium Classic and the Haggerty Two-Man earlier this season. He is a former New York State Mid-Amateur champion.
Rounding out the top 10 in points are Albany County Amateur winner Victor Fox of Normanside Country Club (202.79), Tri-County Match Play winner Matt Canavan of Saratoga Spa (160.16), Mike Wheeler of Shaker Ridge Country Club (118.14), Saratoga County Amateur champ Jim Gifford of Mohawk Golf Club (114), Chad Stoffer of Town of Colonie (99.41), Kevin Cassidy of Albany National (98.46), Rob Bigley Jr. of Pinehaven Country Club (78.95), Matt Clarke of the Country Club of Troy (76) and Steve Quillinan Jr., also of the Country Club of Troy (71.88).
CLOSER TO HOME
Although the PGA of America will continue to keep its main office in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., it announced this week that it will also open a New York office in Elmford.
The New York PGA Office will be part of “Golf Central,” site of both the Metropolitan PGA Section and the Metropolitan Golf Association. The PGA actually began in New York in 1916.
“We are very excited about establishing a foothold in the New York metropolitan area, near the birthplace of the PGA of America,” said PGA CEO Pete Bevacqua. “New York holds a key to our future and a special link to our storied past. As we drive forward toward our centennial in 2016, the region will play a major role in telling the story of the first 100 years of the PGA and what the next 100 have in store for our association.
“We now join other major sports entities that have a vital presence in the region, including the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and our friends at the PGA Tour,” said Bevacqua. “Many of our key corporate relationships are centered in or around the New York metropolitan area, and I know that our chief business officer, Kevin Carter, and his team are planning to utilize the space extensively. In addition, our domestic broadcast partners, including CBS, NBC and Turner, all have a headquarters or an extensive presence in the region, and this will only help to deepen our relationships with them all. Of course, Palm Beach Gardens is our home, but a New York presence is an essential move as we head toward our very promising future.”
u The Gazette’s 16th annual Capital Region Newspaper in Education Junior Golf Tournament will be held Aug. 2 at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. Entry fee is $35, and includes golf, lunch and prizes, including special door prizes. Trophies and gift certificates will be awarded to the top three finishers for both gross and handicap in the boys’ 12-14, boys’ 15-18 and girls’ 12-18 age divisions. Longest drive and closest-to-the-pin contest winners will also be awarded. Send all entries to N.I.E. Junior Golf tournament, The Gazette, 2345 Maxon Road Ext., P.O. Box 1090, Schenectady, NY 12301-1090. Entry deadline is July 27. The first 120 entries will be accepted in order of postmark. Make checks payable to The Gazette. Proceeds will benefit The Gazette’s Newspaper in Education program.
u Local club pros from the Northeastern New York PGA will compete in the Center for Disability’s Pro-Am at Albany Country Club on Monday.
u Orchard Creek will be the site for the Eastern New York Golf Association’s Harry & Bonnie Clark Memorial ABCD Championship on Wednesday. This is the ENYGA’s premier event, and is named after the Clarks, who ran the organization for many years.
u Fox Run Golf Club will be the host for the 11th annual BYC golf tournament to benefit the Broadalbin Youth Commission on Friday. Entry fee is $88, and includes golf, cart, beverages on the course, lunch after the ninth hole and a hot buffet dinner at 4 p.m. There will be an 11 a.m. shotgun start. Contact Rob Klug (883-3232) for more information. Checks can be made payable to the Broadalbin Youth Commission and mailed to Sheila Bleyl, Broadalbin village clerk, P.O. Box 6, Broadalbin, NY 12025.
u Saratoga National Golf Club will host the Teeing Off on Cancer Golf Classic Aug. 26. The tournament benefits the Coaches vs. Cancer program to fight cancer nationwide. For more information, contact Amanda Medina at 472-0069.
u Colonie Golf & Country Club will hold the final local qualifier on July 21 for the New York State Amateur Golf Championship July 23-25 at Schuyler Meadows.
u Schenectady Municipal Golf Course will host the Rotterdam Elks #2157 Junior Golf Qualifier July 23. Entry fee is $20, and includes lunch. Age divisions for boys and girls will be 12-14, 15-16 and 17-18. Two players from each group will advance to the 58th annual State Elks Junior Golf Championship at Yahnundasis Golf Club in Utica Aug. 11-12. The tournament is limited to 48 players. Call Paul Ungerland (384-0221) or Muny head pro Matt Daley (382-5155) for more information. Entry deadline is Aug. 1.
u The Schenectady Hook a Kid on Golf Charity Classic will be held Wednesday at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. Funding will help support the local Hook a Kid on Golf program. Entry fee for the four-person scramble is $500 per team or $95 per individual. Call the Muny pro shop for more information.
u The Junior Achievement Adirondack golf tournament is scheduled for July 30 at Airway Meadows Golf Club. The four-person scramble will have an $80 entry fee that includes golf, cart, beer, soda, lunch at the turn and a cookout following play. Call Susan Klippel at 222-0567 for more information.
u Van Patten Golf Club will host the 15th annual Glenville Rotary Golf Classic Aug. 1. Entry fee for the four-person scramble will be $100, and includes golf, cart, lunch, awards and raffles. There will be an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start. The field will be limited to the first 144. Contact John Weldon (399-0048 or 596-0320) for more information.
Ken Farrar hit an 8-iron for his hole-in-one on the 130-yard 11th hole at Orchard Creek.
Also at Orchard Creek, Jack McKinney holed out with a 5-iron on the 167-yard eighth hole.
Richard Maitino found the cup with a 7-wood from 150 yards for one of three perfect shots on the 16th hole at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course this week.
Erika Kuiber’s 5-wood shot went in from 115 yards, while Chris Young also recorded a hole-in-one with an 8-iron from 155 yards.
At Saratoga Lake Golf Club, Keith Scianna hit an 8-iron for a hole-in-one on the 135-yard third hole.
Ron Longo eagled the ninth hole, and Nicky DeMeo eagled the 16th hole while competing in the Schenectady Post Office league at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
Dan Noon eagled the 12th hole at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.
At Mechanicville Golf Club, Bob Feerico holed out with a 7-iron on the par-4 first hole.