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Golf: Mueller's confidence boosted by second in Stroke Play

Golf: Mueller's confidence boosted by second in Stroke Play

Some heavy hitters hope to be in top form for the opening round of the Gazette Senior County Amateur

Some heavy hitters hope to be in top form for the opening round of the Gazette Senior County Amateur Thursday at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.

The two-day tournament is actually two tournaments in one, with net competition concluding on the first day in the 50-59, 60-69 and 70-plus age groups. Only the players with the low 20 and ties gross advance to Friday’s second round.

Muny head pro Matt Daley said if the rain expected for today is too heavy, flooding the course, the tournament may be shifted to Friday and Saturday. This rainy summer already washed out one round of the open-division County Amateur for the second year in a row.

Seven-time County Amateur champion Jim Mueller has yet to win a senior crown, but the 55-year-old standout is coming off a runner-up finish in the prestigious Capital

Region Amateur Golf Association Stroke Play Championship last weekend at Schuyler Meadows Club. He shot a seven-over-par 151 over the two rounds in a field of 45 of the best players in the area.

Mueller is coming off knee surgery which slowed him down last season.

“Looks can be deceiving,” said the postal employee. “Schuyler was in great condition. It was the first time that I had played it since the renovation. But my game is very inconsistent right now. It’s been either very good or very bad. Not much consistency there at all.”

Mueller said his swing comes and goes. Even his wedge game, usually his strength, has not been reliable.

“My wedges are giving me more problems than anything. They haven’t been as sharp as they should be. I just don’t know what to expect,” he said.

“And my putter has been hot and cold.”

Mueller was one of the first area players to switch to the claw putting grip eight years ago. When he’s on, he can knock in birdies in bunches, and he’s one of the few players in this field who is extremely comfortable with very low numbers on his scorecard.

Mueller’s main competition should come from a group of former champions, including three-time defending Senior County Amateur titlist Paul Pratico, a former pro who is looking to become the first player in either the open or the senior tournament to win four straight championships.

Other former senior champions in the field include five-time winner Neil Golub of Mohawk Golf club, 2010 winner Mike Carroll, also of Mohawk GC, and 2008 Tony Cristello of Pinehaven Country Club.

Mike Bayus, three-time open division winner, is also in the field.

Bill Moll, five-time Senior County Amateur champion and three-time County Am titlist, is out with a knee injury. He tried to practice earlier this week but was in too much pain to continue.

Other top challengers and perennial contenders include Andy Bennett, Kenny Hall, Tom Gatta, John Reagan, Glenn Stopera, Harry Morgan and Jay Taub.

PAIRINGS

7:00 — Mike Carroll, Jay Taub, Bruce Barach.

7:10 — Andy Bennett, Kenny Hall, Tom Gatta.

7:20 — David Billman, David Sutphen, John Reagan.

7:30 — Mark Compton, Jim Fazio, Jim Ryan.

7:40 — Woody Winslow, Moe Mroczkowski, Joe Genovesi.

7:50 — Mario Marino, Pete DiSimone, Rick Gross.

8:00 — Paul Pratico, Tony Cristello, Jim Mueller.

8:10 — Peter Andrikopoulos, Angelo Menagias, Bob Dufort.

8:20 — Mike Bayus, Neil Golub, Dave Hillier.

8:30 — Bill Schissler, Pete Davis, Mike Deines.

8:40 — John Havlik, Sal Caputimmino, Richard Lackey.

8:50 — Allen Cromer, David Hwaszcz, Ron Anzalone.

9:00 — Mike Pollock, Joe DeLorenzo, Jed Ingersoll.

9:10 — Armand Amedore, Tom Nasadoski, Mike DiGirolamo.

9:20 — Tony Ward, Joe Lazzari, Neil Chambers.

9:30 — John Burns, John Weldon, Joe Monteparo.

9:40 — Glenn Stopera, Jack McMahon, Harry Morgan.

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