Local chiropractor Jerry Brescia fixes sore backs for a living.
He might need some of his own medicine today, as he’ll be carrying a heavy load in the final round of the rain-delayed Gazette County Amateur Golf Championship at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
The 46-year-old former Union College basketball standout carded a one-under-par 71 on a windy Saturday — the only score under par — to grab the opening-round lead on a Muny layout saturated with water. The annual tournament for local scratch golfers was shortened from three rounds to two because heavy rains Friday made the course unplayable and washed out that round.
Brescia owns a one-shot lead over defending champion and six-time winner Paul Pratico, who posted an even-par 72. Former champion Tom Salmon and long-hitting Lance Hope are another shot back, with 2012 winner Ben Bates of Mohawk and Alex Olbrych also within reach of the leaders after shooting a 74.
Twenty-one players, including seven-time champion Jim Mueller (78) and three-time titlist Ed Chylinski (79) made the cut at seven-over-par 79 or better. The scores were much higher than usual, especially for an opening round.
Three-time titlist Rob Bigley Jr. (73) and two-time winner Bob Cooper (74) were both disqualified after signing incorrect scorecards.
Brescia called his round “lucky” after recording two fortunate birdies. He rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on the 11th hole and then drained a 15-footer from off the green on the par-3 17th hole.
“I used my putter from off the green on the 17th hole, and it was a good thing it hit the hole,” said Brescia.
“I made a lot of pars today, and I stayed out of trouble all day,” he said. “My only bogey was on the 12th hole from just 70 yards out and in the center of the fairway. I chunked my third shot.
“Obviously, it was a good round, and I like where I’m at,” Brescia said. “Sometimes, you slap it around and you score great. Other times, you hit it pure and you can’t make a putt. That’s golf. I have no expectations for [today]. We’ll just see what happens. I’ve finished as high as second once before.”
The steady Pratico birdied the second, seventh and 10th holes, but he bogeyed all three par-3s on the back side. After making the turn at two-under-par, Pratico three-putted the 13th hole and then failed to get up and down on both the 15th and 17th holes.
“The wind was tough, and it was swirling all day. The conditions were tough,” Pratico said.
Although Salmon liked his round, he thought it could have been much better.
“I’m always pretty happy with a 73, but I thought I left a lot out there,” he said. “I had two three-putts on the sixth and seventh holes that were not difficult two-putts at all. I hit a lot of good shots today.”
Salmon birdied the ninth hole to make the turn at even par, but he bogeyed both the 10th and 12th holes. He rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole, but missed a four-foot putt on the 16th hole.
Hope rolled in birdies on the second and 12th holes to offset bogeys on the eighth, 11th and 13th holes.
“I hit it pretty good, but I missed my approach shots on the wrong side of the green today, and I left myself too many downhill putts where I couldn’t be that aggressive,” Hope said. “I like where I am in the tournament.”
The two disqualifications were rare for County Am competition. Both Bigley, who played in the first group of the day, and Cooper signed for cards that had the wrong score listed by their respective markers for one specific hole. Since the totals on both players cards were correct, neither one noticed the discrepancy on the individual holes, but according to golf rules, if you sign for an incorrect scorecard, you are disqualified.
Made the cut — Jerry Brescia 71, Paul Pratico 72, Lance Hope 73, Tom Salmon 73, Alex Olbrych 74, Ben Bates 74, Chad Stoffer 75, John Mendrysa 75, Brandon Haase 76, Matt Panneton 76, Dave DeMarco 77, Tony Cristello 77, Andy Bennett 78, Ben Smith 78, Jay Taub 78, Jim Mueller 78, Mark Compton 78, Ed Chylinski 79, Kenny Hall 79, Mike Stopera 79, Todd Trepess 79.
Other scores — Mike Carroll 80, Mike Drake 80, Aaron Simone 81, Chris Gilbert 81, Corey Barringer 81, Mike Pollock 81, Dave Sutphen 82, Thomas Kenneally 82, Todd Czepiel 82, Derrick Brown 83, Don Blaha 83, Brandon Alois 84, Brian Daley 84, Mario Marino 84, Ross Lackey 84, Mike Bayus 85, Peter Guidarelli 85, Carl Gilbert 86, Tim Lewandowski 86, Craig Schoonmaker 87, Allen Cromer 88, Peter Davis 88, Seth Adams 88, Walt Peretti 88, Mike Dwyer 89, Paul Carnivale 89, JP Hebert 90, Chris Pierpont 91, Joe Plantz 91, Dan Maloy 92, Mike Lucey 93, Mike Casey 99, Mike Digiloramo 105, Moe Mroczkowski WD, Angelo Menegias WD, Peter Andrikopoulos WD, Bill Sweet WD, Neil Golub WD, Scott Grabicki WD, Rob Bigley Jr. DQ, Bob Cooper DQ.
7:00 — Mike Stopera, Ed Chylinski, Kenny Hall.
7:08 — Todd Trepess, Ben Smith, Andy Bennett.
7:16 — Jim Mueller, Jay Taub, Mark Compton.
7:24 — Tony Cristello, Dave DeMarco, Brandon Haase.
7:32 — Matt Panneton, John Mendrysa, Chad Stoffer.
7:40 — Ben Bates, Alex Olbrych, Lance Hope.
7:48 — Jerry Brescia, Paul Pratico, Tom Salmon.