With only a few decent golf weather days this spring, the local pros were just plain sharper than their amateur counterparts in the 12th annual Gazette Cup.
Led by host pro Frank Mellet and his assistant, Ian Breen, the Northeastern New York PGA club professionals surged on the back nine and defeated the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association all-stars, 33-21, at Colonie Golf & Country Club Wednesday.
The pros have now won two matches in a row and lead the series, 8-4.
Each team consisted of 12 players off last season’s player of the year point list. Three matches were conducted simultaneously in each pairing, with three points up for grabs (front side, back side and total) in both individual matches and the team match.
The score was tied, 9-9, on the front side, but the pros dominated the back nine and ended up winning four of the six team matches and six out of the 12 individual matches.
“Most of us pros were sharper than the amateurs at this time of year,” said Mellet, who recently competed in the Senior Professional Championship. He and the rest of the club pros also have played two Pro Classic tournaments, while the amateurs have yet to play a sanctioned tournament outside their own club events or leagues.
Mellet, the captain for the pro team, birdied the first, 10th and eighth holes en route to beating defending CRAGA Player of the Year Jim Welch of Olde Kinderhook, 3-0, in the featured individual match. Mellet and Noel Gebauer of Town of Colonie Golf Course blanked Welch and David Pallas of Saratoga Spa, 3-0, in the team match.
“I’ve watched Jim win a couple of Tri-County Match Play events at our course. He’s a heck of a player, and our match was very close throughout,” said Mellet.
“I hit the ball really well today, and I also hit a lot of greens in regulation, so there wasn’t a lot of pressure on me today.”
Breen also used his home-course knowledge to his advantage, shooting a four-under-par 68 on his own ball during his 3-0 individual victory over Brandon Haase of Mohawk Golf Club.
Breen also combined with Steve Vatter of Capital Hills at Albany to win their team match over Haase and Steve Quillinan Jr. of Burden Lake Country, Club, 3-0.
Breen grabbed the momentum for his team with birdies on the second, third and fourth holes, and he tacked on a couple more birdies on the back. But he needed a birdie chip-in on the par-5 18th hole by Vatter to close out the team match after Quillinan made a run with two birdies on the back nine.
Three-time defending NENYPGA Player of the Year Scott Berliner of McGregor Links combined with Josh Hillman of Taconic Club to beat Mike Wheeler of Shaker Ridge CC and Louis Walsh of Van Patten, 21⁄2-1⁄2. Berliner also won his individual match with Walsh, 3-0.
“They gave us quite a match,” said Berliner. “Mike Wheeler played very well on the back, and I didn’t make many putts today. But it was a lot of fun, and it was a good match.”
The other pro tandem to win its match was Bob Mucha of Greenock CC with Steve Mazzariello of Stockbridge Golf Club.
CRAGA team captain Dan Russo and Dave Hayes, both of Schuyler Meadows, was the only amateur duo to win a team match, 2-1, over Tom Oppedisano of McGregor Links CC with Fred Fruisen of Skidmore College.
“They [the pros] made four birdies on the back, and they gave us a good match,” said Russo. “But maybe we needed a few strokes next year,” he said with a grin.
NENYPGA 33, CRAGA 21
Team matches — Steve Vatter (Capital Hills)-Ian Breen (Colonie G&CC) def. Steve Quillinan Jr. (Burden Lake)-Brandon Haase (Mohawk), 3-0; Steve Mazzariello (Stockbridge)-Bob Mucha (Greenock) def. Mike McCarroll (Saratoga National)-Chad Stoffer (Town of Colonie), 2-1; Tom Sullivan (Wyantenuck)-Marc Levesque (Colulmbia G&CC) tied Kevin Cassidy (Albany National)-Justin McCarthy (Wolferts Roost), 11⁄2-11⁄2; Josh Hillman (Taconic)-Scott Berliner (McGregor) def. Mike Wheeler (Shaker Ridge)-Louis Walsh (Van Patten), 21⁄2-1⁄2; Dan Russo (Schuyler Meadows)-Dave Hayes (Schuyler Meadows) def. Tom Oppedisano (McGregor Links)-Fred Fruisen (Skidmore), 2-1; Frank Mellet (Colonie G&CC)-Noel Gebauer (Town of Colonie) def. Jim Welch (Olde Kinderhook)-David Pallas (Saratoga Spa), 3-0.
Individual matches — Vatter tied Quillinan, 11⁄2-11⁄2; Breen def. Haase, 3-0; Mazzariello def. McCarroll, 2-1; Mucha def. Stoffer, 21⁄2-1⁄2; Sullivan def. Cassidy, 2-1; Levesque tied McCarthy, 11⁄2-11⁄2; Wheeler def. Hillman, 2-1; Berliner def. Walsh, 3-0; Russo def. Oppedisano, 21⁄2-1⁄2; Hayes def. Fruisen, 3-0; Mellet def. Welch, 3-0; Pallas def. Gebauer, 3-0.