Home-course advantage played a major role for the co-leaders during the first round of the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association’s Stroke Play Championship Friday at Schuyler Meadows.
Defending champion Dan Russo, 56, and Austin Teal, 20, both from the host club, shot two-over-par 74s to share the lead on a surprisingly high-scoring day, thanks to speedy greens that measured 12.5 on the Stimpmeter.
The final round for the 44-player field will be contested today, with tee times beginning at about 10:30 a.m.
“The course played hard, but nothing unfair,” said Russo, a four-time CRAGA Stroke Play champ. “You had to play well to score. You couldn’t miss a shot. It’s a very difficult test, especially on the greens. There are no tap-ins.”
Russo birdied the fifth hole, and sank a 25-foot putt for eagle on the 13th hole.
“I’m not surprised by the scores,” said Russo. “This course can stand on its own. It’s not tricked up in any way. It’s hard, but fair.”
Teal, who will be a junior at Endicott College, agreed that Schuyler Meadows was indeed a challenge, even with his home-course knowledge.
“I played really well today,” he said. “The course is in great shape. I’m a member here, so I’m fortunate. The greens are smooth and quick. It helps being on your own course.”
Teal’s excellent round was marred by just one hole — the same one Russo eagled.
“I had a triple bogey on No. 13,” he said. “I pulled my drive, and it ended up on the edge of the creek. Then I tried to make a miracle shot from near the hazard. Looking back, it would have been smarter just to take a drop.”
Teal birdied the seventh, eighth, 10th and 18th holes.
“I hit it close and knocked some in,” he said.
“I haven’t played in many of the area tournaments, but it’s definitely nice to see how you measure up with all these good players.”
Tied for second with 76s were Mike Wheeler of Shaker Ridge Country Club and Eagle Crest Golf Club general manager Bill Paulsen Jr., who is a seven-time Saratoga County Senior Amateur champion.
“The greens were hard to hold,” said Wheeler. “If you were hitting out of the rough, you had no chance to hold the greens. In order to hit it close today, you needed to hit a high cut shot.”
Paulsen, 57, had one birdie, on No. 13, and he lamented the fact that Schuyler Meadows got some rain this week.
“I need some roll. I don’t hit it as long as I used to,” he said.
Dan Russo (Hagaman) 74, Austin Teal (Loudonville) 74, Bill Paulsen Jr. (Clifton Park) 76, Mike Wheeler (Schenectady) 76, Jim Mueller (Altamont) 77, Ian Teal (Loudonville) 77, Chris Thompson (Saratoga Springs) 77, Chad Stoffer (Niskayuna) 77, James Belogna (Albany) 77, Davis Jensen (Loudonville) 78, Greg Teal (Loudonville) 79, Spencer Sautin (Ballston Lake) 79, Pat Murphy (Delmar) 80, Sean Puleo (Loudonville) 80, Kevin O’Leary (Albany) 80, David Hayes (Loudonville) 81, Steve Quillinan Jr. (Troy) 81, Lance Hope (Schenectady) 81, Matt Clarke (Loudonville) 81, Justin Deitz (Clifton Park) 81, Carter Fritch (Gansevoort) 82, Todd Czepiel (Duanesburg) 82, Daniel Shepherd (Wilton) 83, Greg Bennett (Wynantskill) 83, Jay Puleo (Loudonville) 83, Dan Ireland (Wynantskill) 83, Andrew Petroff (Ballston Lake) 83, Tanner Donovan (Loudonville) 84, John Mendrysa (Niskayuna) 84, Kevin Cassidy (Albany) 85, Joe Delaney (Menands) 85, Michael Altobelli (Claverack) 85, Ray Schott (Niskayuna) 86, Brandon Haase (Glenville) 86, Mike McCarroll (Saratoga Springs) 88, Alexander Bringsjord (Troy) 88, Vincent Fioravanti (Altamont) 90, DJ Tozier (Mechanicville 91, Michael Alley (Loudonville) 91, Dave DeMarco (Schenectady) 93, Jonathan Squires (Claverack) 97, Patrick Hayes (Loudonville) 98, Chris Jenkins (Loudonville) 98, Hunter Donovan (Loudonville) 100, Aaron Simone (Niskayuna) WD, Tom Cassidy (Loudonville) DNS, Wyatt Gorham (Fort Edward) DNS.