Long putts were the most memorable, but Jim Mueller made plenty of short ones, too.
The seven-time Gazette County Amateur champion took major strides toward winning his first Senior County Amateur crown with a sizzling six-under-par 66 in the opening round Thursday at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
Twenty players made the cut at 80 and under.
Angelo Menagias won the 60-69 net championship with a 67, while John Weldon was the 70-plus net champ with a 68. The 50-59 net division winner will be determined following today’s final round, as many of those same competitors are involved in the gross championship. Players can win prizes in only one division.
“I made two bombs today,” said the 55-year-old Mueller. “I rolled in a 30-footer right off the bat on the opening hole, and then I sank a 60-footer on the 11th hole. Those two long putts really got me going.”
Mueller also birdied the seventh, ninth, 12th, 14th and 16th holes. The only par-5 he failed to birdie was No. 2, and his only bogey of the day was a three-putt on the fourth hole.
“I hit some really good irons today,” beamed Mueller, who is coming off a second-place finish in last weekend’s Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Stroke Play Championship at Schuyler Meadows. “Like I told you before, I’ve been inconsistent, but I hit it so solidly today. I’d be happy to hit the ball like this any time.”
Three-time defending champion Paul Pratico posted a 69, while Jay Taub was the only other player under par with a 71.
“I was just trying to stay fairly close to Jimmy so he wouldn’t run away with it on the first day,” said Pratico with a laugh. “Jim was playing great, especially on the back nine. At least I still have a chance. If the tees are back and the pins are a little tougher, maybe I can catch him. It’s hard to shoot two really low scores in a row.”
Pratico, attempting to become the first player to win four straight Gazette-sponsored tournaments in either the open or senior events, birdied the first, fourth, ninth, 12th, 15th and 16th holes. He suffered three-putts on both the third and 11th holes. An errant tee shot on the 10th hole led to another bogey.
“I played pretty well, but Jimmy was just outstanding today,” he said.
Taub played in the first group of the day and rode a hot putter.
“I made six miles worth of putts today,” he said. “The greens were rolling great.”
Taub knocked in birds on the third, eighth, ninth, 11th and 14th holes. He lamented the fact that he made a double-bogey from the middle of the fairway on the 10th hole.
Two former champions, Tony Cristello and Mike Carroll, joined Dave Sutphen and Glenn Stopera in a tie for fourth place with a 74.
Made the cut — Jim Mueller 66, Paul Pratico 69, Jay Taub 71, Mike Carroll 74, Dave Sutphen 74, Tony Cristello 74, Glenn Stopera 74, Andy Bennett 76, Kenny Hall 76, Angelo Menagias 77, John Reagan 78, Mark Compton 78, Tom Gatta 79, David Billman 79, David Hwaszcz 79, Harry Morgan 79, Bruce Barach 80, Peter Andrikopoulos 80, Neil Chambers.
Others — Jim Fazio 81, Jim Ryan 81, Woody Winslow 81, Mario Marino 81, John Havlik 81, Sal Caputimmino 81, Jed Ingersoll 81, Rick Gross 82, Mike Deines 82, Jim McMahon 82, Bill Schissler 83, John Burns 83, Pete Davis 84, Moe Mroczkowski 85, Mike Bayus 85, Joe Genovesi 86, Joe DeLorenzo 86, Pete DiSimone 87, John Weldon 87, Joe Monteparo 87, Dave Hillier 91, Tony Ward 91, Richard Lackey 92, Tom Nasadoski 92, Mike DiGirolamo 94, Joe Lazzari 102, Bob Dufort WD; Neil Golub WD (illness), Allen Cromer WD, Ron Anzalone WD, Armand Amedore WD.
Net leaders — 50-59 (TBD); 60-69 — Angelo Menagias 67. 70-plus — John Whelan 68.
8:00 — Bruce Barach, Peter Andrikopoulos.
8:10 — Neil Chambers, David Billman, Dave Hwaszcz.
8:20 — Tom Gatta, Mike Pollock, Harry Morgan.
8:30 — Angelo Menagias, John Reagan, Mark Compton.
8:40 — Mike Carroll, Kenny Hall, Andy Bennett.
8:50 — Dave Sutphen, Tony Cristello, Glenn Stopera.
9:00 — Jim Mueller, Paul Pratico, Jay Taub.