Bobby McCarthy and Brian Daley both get a big kick out of hitting their approach shots close to the pin. If they are successful in that endeavor during Friday’s Gazette Newspaper in Education Capital Region Junior Championship, one of them just might add his name to the permanent trophy.
A field of 65 players will compete in the annual event, held at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. Competition, which will be divided into the boys’ 15-18, boys’ 12-14 and girls’ 12-18 divisions, begins with an 8 a.m. shotgun start. Players should arrive no later than 7:30.
McCarthy and Daley will be two of the favorites in the boys’ 15-18 division, especially since defending champion Aaron Simone of Pinehaven Country Club is playing in the 38th annual Junior PGA Championship this week at Trump National Golf Club. Simone has signed up to play in the N.I.E., but if he makes the cut in the Junior PGA Championship, he won’t make it back to Schenectady in time to play.
McCarthy, who plays out of Van Patten Golf Course and has a 4 handicap, is third on the Northeastern New York PGA Junior Golf Tour point list in his age division, and he’s had a banner season. So far, he’s won a pair of NENYPGA Junior Golf Tour events — at Fairways of Halfmoon and at Ballston Spa Country Club. His best round of the year was a 70 at Fairways of Halfmoon.
“This is my fourth year playing the NENYPGA Junior Golf Tour,” said McCarthy, who will be a senior at Shenendehowa this fall. “I’ve also played two years on the U.S. Challenge Tour and I played in the AJGA [American Junior Golf Association] tour last year, although I didn’t play any of their events this year.”
McCarthy said playing in the prestigious AJGA events is extremely challenging.
“The AJGA is tough. It’s very hard,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of competitions in this area of the country, so when you do travel, you have to do well. It’s very serious, and it’s a very good tour. I would say it’s a nice atmosphere, but the tournaments there are extremely competitive.”
McCarthy says all facets of his game are clicking this summer.
“Everything has been coming together. I’ve been hitting a lot of fairways and greens, but if I miss a green, I usually get up and down,” he said.
“I think my favorite part of the game is my approach shots, but the best part of my game is probably my driver, because I hit a lot of fairways.”
McCarthy admits to being streaky with his TaylorMade Rossa putter. He uses an Adams Speedline driver and Mizuno 825 irons.
Daley is currently 10th in the NENYPGA Junior Tour point standings. He has two second-place finishes, at Wahconah Country Club and at Airway Meadows, and he also finished in the top five at Wiltwyck Golf Club in Kingston.
“The strongest part of my game is my mid-irons. I hit them close. Sometimes, my putter lets me down, which has led to some very up and down play,” said Daley. “But my mid-irons have been consistent all year. They usually get me in the 10-foot range when I’m playing well.”
Daley, who carries a 4 handicap at Mohawk Golf Club, said he isn’t the longest player in the field, but if he can keep the ball in the fairway, he has a chance with his strong iron play.
“At Schenectady Municipal, you don’t have to hit the driver that long. You’ve just got to keep it in play,” he said.
If Daley is in position to attack the pin, he will.
“I play pretty aggressively, and that means I can make a couple more bogeys, sometimes. But that comes with the good and the bad,” he said. “I always go out there thinking that I’m going to make a lot of birdies. I’ve got a chance at a pin, I’ll go for it. I was two-under par through 12 holes at last year’s Gazette, and then I ended up with a 74. But I try to make things happen,” said Daley, who will be a
senior at Niskayuna.
Other top players among the boys include Cody Husek of Fox Run, Derrick Brown of Schenectady Municipal, Kevin Johnston of Nick Stoner, Michael Zhao of Shaker Ridge Country Club, David Renko of Ballston Spa Country Club, Dennis Ziamandanis of Albany Country Club and Michael Dwyer of Amsterdam Municipal.
Albany Country Club’s Grace Ziamandanis, who carries a 4 handicap, is a big favorite in the girls’ division.
The top three gross and net in each division will receive trophies and gift certificates. There will be longest drive and closest-to-the-pin contests, as well. All competitors also have a chance to win door prizes.
Proceeds benefit the Gazette’s Newspaper in Education program.
1A — Brian Daley, Luke Goldstock, Bobby McCarthy, Aaron Simone.
1B — Derrick Brown, Josh Fonda, Cody Husek, Tyler Lesniewski.
2 — Kevin Johnston, Thomas Kenneally, David Renko, David Wellington.
3 — Alex Bond, Alex Coyne, Michael Dwyer, Dan Rhodes.
4 — Nicholas Gramuglia, Alex Luizzi, Daniel Omicinsk, Dennis Ziamandanis.
5 — Darryn Bradt, Lucas Maloney, Patrick Shakar, Charles Stevens.
10 — Connor Adams, Kyle Adams, Frank Parisi, Michael Zhao.
11 — Jack O’Hara, James Phelps, Kellen Reiner, Teddy Trosset.
12 — Jason Cyr, Dylan Finnegan, Eddie Harasiemowicz, Paul Liquori.
13 — Josh Feulner, Sam Ingersoll, Nico Mattia, Ryan Stewart.
14A — Cameron D’Aloia, Kevin Ottati, Tyler Popp.
14B — Daniel Farley, Marc LaBahn, Jonathan LaBahn.
15 — Daniel Diaz, Austn Phelps, Devan Singh.
16A — Michael Schebel, Gabriel Smith, Liam Smith, Alex Wellington.
16B — Karl Hunt, Lucas Parisi, Zachary Peretti.
17 — Christian Caputo, Ryan Pepocell, Joseph Polley, Kevin Wellington.
18 — Sarah Luna, Emma Leigh Ward, Grace Ziamandanis.