Joshua Fonda stayed away from the big stick, and it helped him take the largest prize.
Fonda, a Fox Run member who will be a senior at Gloversville High School in the fall, chose a 3-iron over his driver, even off the
longest holes, and that strategy helped him post a one-under-par 71 and win the boys’ 15-18 age division of the 16th annual Gazette Newspaper in Education Capital Region Junior Golf Championship Friday at Schenectady Municipal.
Kyle Adams (74) won the boys’ 12-14 title by beating Michael Zhao of Shaker Ridge Country Club in a one-hole playoff, while Grace Ziamandanis of Albany Country Club won her second consecutive girls’ title with a 79.
Fonda, who won the Northeastern New York PGA Junior Tour event with a 67 Thursday at Normanside Country Club, used that momentum to edge defending champion Aaron Simone of Pinehaven Country Club and Bobby McCarthy of Van Patten, who tied for second with 73. McCarthy won the second low gross prize on a matching of cards.
“I played conservatively by hitting irons off the tee,” said Fonda. “I can hit my 3-iron 230 yards, so that was enough to keep me out of trouble. Why take a driver off some of those tight holes?”
Fonda thought he needed at least another birdie to win the title when he missed a four-foot par putt on the 18th hole, but he was surprised to find out that he scored well enough to win.
“I thought the scores would be lower,” he said. “Schenectady Municipal is an easier course, for the most part, and I thought somebody like Aaron [Simone] would play well.”
Fonda birdied the second, sixth, 13th and 16th holes. His birdie on the par-3 13th hole earned him closest-to-the-pin honors.
“I missed three or four putts that I could have made, but I chipped in twice, and that helped me,” said Fonda. “I probably hit about 15 greens, but I didn’t hit that many fairways. I spray the ball sometimes off the tee, so that’s why I hit my 3-iron.”
McCarthy rebounded from a double-bogey on the par-5 second hole to finish just one-over-par. He birdied the 10th and 16th holes on the back nine.
“I played pretty decently,” he said. “I hit the ball pretty good, and when I did miss a green, I was able to get up and down. I thought the pins were fair, and the greens were really rolling well.”
Simone, who not only won last year’s boys’ 15-18 division but also was a back-to-back winner in the boys’ 12-14 age division, only had an hour and a half of sleep after coming back from Trump National to compete in the PGA Junior Championship near Washington, D.C.
“I didn’t get much sleep, but I started off pretty well with two birdies in a row,” said Simone. “But things started going wrong when I three-putted the ninth hole for a bogey. Then I had an [triple-bogey] 8 on the 12th hole.”
Simone regrouped with birdies on the 14th and 16th holes.
“I hit some weird putts today. I think it came from a lack of focus and a lack of sleep,” Simone said.
“But I had an outstanding experience playing in the PGA Junior Championship. It was the best course I ever played on. It was about 7,200 yards long, with soft fairways and high rough. I didn’t play that well, shooting 79, 78 and 76, but I had a chance to meet Mr. Trump, and it was a lot of fun.”
Ziamandanis wasn’t happy with her 79 after shooting a 76 the last two years in this event.
“I didn’t play as well as I did last year,” she said. “There were a bunch of little things that went wrong. It seemed like something different happened on each hole. But the key thing was that I got in a competitive round. I’m leaving for the University of Tampa in two weeks and four days, and I needed a competitive round before I play for the golf team.”
Ziamandanis, who registered four birdies, said she just returned from a trip to Ireland, and she played a lot of golf while there on her family vacation.
“It was a different kind of golf there. You had to be more precise,” she said.
Adams two-putted from 30 feet to edge Zhao in the playoff for the boys’ 12-14 division on the 10th hole. The Edison Club member had two birdies during regulation, and said he made some key putts during his round.
Zhao, who connected for three birdies during regulation play, will play for Niskayuna in the fall.
“It was a lot of fun playing with Kyle, because he plays so fast,” said Zhao.
Gross: Josh Fonda 71, Bobby McCarthy 73, Aaron Simone 73, Luke Goldstock 74, Cody Husek 74, Brian Daley 75, Alex Bond 76, Austin Felt 77, David Wellington 77, David Renko 78, Thomas Kenneally 78, Cameron D’Aloia 78, Tyler Lesniewski 78, Patrick Shakar 78, Kevin Johnston 79, Lucas Maloney 79, Michael Dwyer 80, Darryn Bradt 80, Derrick Brown 81, Nicholas Gramulgia 82, Daniel Omicinski 83, Tyler Popp 87, Marc LaBahn 89, Dan Rhodes 91, Alex Luizzi 94, Devan Singh 101, Jonathon LaBahn 102, Kevin Ottati 103, Daniel Farley 112, Alex Coyne WD, Daniel Diaz WD; Charles Stevens NC. Net leaders: D’Aloia 58, Bond 65.
Gross: x-Kyle Adams 74, Michael Zhao 74, James Phelps 76, Connor Adams 83, Michael Doxie 87, Jack O’Hara 87, Frank Parisi 87, Jason Cyr 91, Eddie Harasiemowicz 91, Kellen Reiner 92, Zachary Peretti 94, Christian Caputo 95, Alex Wellington 95, Ryan Pepocelli 98, Kevin Wellington 99, Joseph Polley 101, Sam Ingersoll 102, Karl Hunt 105, Michael Schebel 105, Paul Liguori 109, Ryan Stewart 109, Lucas Parisi 111, Nico Mattia 114, Gabriel Smith 115, Josh Feulner 118, Liam Smith 122, Dylan Finnegan WD, Teddy Trosset WD, Dennis Ziamandanis WD. Net leaders: Christian Caputo 59, Zachary Peretti 59.
Gross: Grace Ziamandanis 79, Emma Ward 96, Sarah Luna 105. Net leaders: Ward 60, Ziamandanis 75.