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A look back at the top-10 golf stories

A look back at the top-10 golf stories

Autumn officially began this week, and that signals the final stretch of the golf season.
A look back at the top-10 golf stories
Dan Russo, a 58-year-old from Hagaman, defies his age on the golf course, as he continues to win amateur titles.
Photographer: Bob Weiner

Autumn officially began this week, and that signals the final stretch of the golf season.

If you haven’t put your clubs away yet, expect later tee time starts because of the cool mornings, and once the leaves begin to fall, good luck finding your ball.

It’s been a memorable summer, filled with noteworthy accomplishments on the links. Here is my top 10:

10. Former Gazette Women’s Best Ball champion Mary Sicard of Queensbury wins the New York State Women’s

Senior Amateur. The long-hitting Sicard was playing in her first NYSGA senior event, and she made it count.

9. Jim Mueller won his third consecutive Schenectady

Senior County Amateur, sponsored by The Daily Gazette. Mueller, who also teamed with Bill Paulsen Jr. to win the senior division in the recent Wolferts Roost Invitational, is the all-time victory leader in total Gazette-sponsored golf events with 10. He’s won the Schenectady County Amateur, now called the Schenectady Classic, a record seven times.

8. Bryan Bigley, a Schalmont High School and Siena College graduate, earned his card on the Web.com tour, the feeder system for the PGA Tour. The 31-year-old two-time winner of the Schenectady County Amateur finished 82nd on the money list with $59,318. He had two top-10 finishes and compiled a 70.14 scoring average.

7. Scott Berliner, the 41-year-old assistant pro at Hiland Golf Club, as well as an assistant coach for the Skidmore College golf team, has dominated the Northeastern New York PGA by winning three of the four major tournaments. He won the NENYPGA Match Play Thursday at Colonie G&CC and also won the section’s Stroke Play title and the two-day Donald Ross Classic. Berliner, a Luzerne native now living in Saratoga Springs, has 9 section wins overall this season and is good bet to win his sixth consecutive NENYPGA Player of the Year award.

6. Mike Wheeler won the Schenectady Classic, sponsored by the Daily Gazette. It was the first year that non-residents were eligible, and Wheeler took full advantage, beating Lance Hope on the first playoff hole.

5. Jackie Stoelting, daughter of former Niskayuna High School standout Ed Barenborg, captured the Symetra Tour’s Fuccillo Kia Championship at Capital Hills at Albany. Stoelting brought some area flavor to a national event held locally for more than 3 decades.

4. Jim Gifford of Mohawk Golf Club, a Shenendehowa High School and Siena College product, put together a sensational season that included a run at the New York State Men’s Amateur title at his home course. He eventually finished tied for fourth. He also teamed up with Niskayuna’s Chad Stoffer to win medalist honors and earn a berth in the USGA. 4-Ball Championship next spring at Pinehurst.

3. Bailey Cocca, a Shaker High School and Coastal Carolina graduate, became the first Capital Region player to win the New York State Women’s Amateur since Tiffany Maurycy in 1989. Cocca was a two-time NYS Junior Girls champion in her youth.

2. Paul Pratico won the 60th Annual New York State Senior Amateur title at Brookfield Country Club in Clarence by three strokes. Pratico, 55, was making his debut in a NYSGA senior event. He’s been one of the most dominant players in Schenectady, winning the Schenectady County Amateur six times and the Schenectady Senior County Am three times. He’s also been a runner-up in both events more than a dozen times.

1. Dan Russo of Hagaman, a member of Schuyler Meadows, won his fourth consecutive and eighth overall Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Stroke Play title, which is considered this area’s top amateur event. Perhaps even more significant for the 58-year-old former member of Rolling Hills at Antlers is that he qualified for his ninth USGA championship by competing in the U.S. Mid-Amateur, where he missed the cut by three strokes.


Tournament season is just about complete, but there are a few significant events remaining for the pros and amateurs, including the NYS Mid-Amateur, which wraps up today at Stafford Country Club. Following are some of the top events left on the schedule.

Local club pros will compete in the NENYPGA Tour Championship/Omega Cup Oct. 2-3 at Saratoga National Golf Club.

The Haggerty Two-Man Classic, named after Bob Haggerty Jr., the late Schenectady Municipal Golf Course pro, is set for next Saturday and Sunday at Schenectady Municipal.

High school players finish up their regular season in the next two weeks. The class championships, including the Class A event Oct. 5 at Eagle Crest, are scheduled for the first week of October, followed by the State Qualifier at Orchard Creek Oct. 13 and Oct. 15.

The Eastern New York Golf Association plays at Windy Hills on Wednesday.

Stadium Golf Club’s annual Falling Leaves tournament will be held Oct. 24. Entry fee for the two-man partners event is $100 for non-members and $75 for members. The cart, a continental breakfast and ziti and meatballs dinner are included. The top six teams in each of the gross and net divisions will earn prizes. Prize fund is $4,000, based on 66 teams. Call 374-9104 for reservations.

Eagle Crest Golf Club’s 26th Annual Scramblemania is set for Oct. 7 at noon. Entry fee is $85 per player and includes cart, beer and soda all day, and a hot & cold buffet. There will be both gross and net prizes. Call 877-7802 for reservations. The first 25 teams are guaranteed entry.

That’s it for this season. Keep it in the fairway.


Kevin Brzezicki and Bob Noto each eagled the 10th hole at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.

Brenda Manchester of Cobleskill Golf &Country Club made an eagle on the par-4 10th Hole during the annual Ringers Tournament.

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