SCHENECTADY — Jim Mueller makes no apologies for the way he won his all-time tournament-best eighth Schenectady Classic last year at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. And why should he?
Although Mueller finished his round believing that Lance Hope had won the tournament, a scoring miscue, similar to what occurred to Roberto De Vicenzo in the 1968 Masters, cost Hope a stroke in the scoring tent. Instead of winning by one shot, he had to play Mueller in a playoff. Mueller ended up winning with a birdie on the second extra hole. Hope, who signed for an incorrect scorecard that had him with a double bogey 5 instead of the 4 he actually made on the 17th hole, finished as the runner-up in a playoff for the second straight year.
In 1968, De Vincenzo signed an incorrect scorecard kept by playing partner Tommy Aaron, allowing Bob Goalby to win.
“Last year, I stayed away from the whole situation at the end,” Mueller recalled. “I had nothing to do with what happened. I couldn’t do anything about it. I did think the tournament was over. People told me they thought Lance had won, and I thought, ‘OK for him, let’s go and have a beer.’ But then all that other stuff happened. All of a sudden, somebody waved me over, and my son told me to go and get my stuff and put my shoes back on. I got a second chance, and I took advantage of it.”
Mueller said Schenectady Municipal has long been one of his favorite courses, and the Daily Gazette-sponsored event has always been special for him.
“I just love it,” he said. “I always liked it as a kid. It suits my eye pretty well. With five par-5s, you can score, but you’ve got to keep the ball in play. I’ve heard that the rough is pretty brutal this year.”
Mueller said he’s not playing quite as well as he would like lately, but that you never know when your game is going to turn around.
“My wife and I were talking the other day, and I told her if I had won one of these I would be ecstatic, and now I’ve won eight. I’m extremely competitive, and I’m more intense than people know,” he said.
Past champions in the men’s division of this event formerly called the Schenectady County Amateur include six-time winner Paul Pratico, three-time champ Rob Bigley Jr., three-time titlist Mike Bayus, two-time winner Bob Cooper, Ben Bates, Aaron Simone, Tom Salmon, Mike Wheeler and Jerry Brescia. Pratico is also the defending Schenectady Senior Classic champion, and has won that event four times. Mueller has three Schenectady Senior Classic wins. Other former senior winners in the field are Jim Gardy and Tony Cristello.
Other players to keep an eye on include former New York State Mid-Amateur champion and two-time Troy Invitational winner Jim Welch of Kinderhook, defending Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Stroke Play winner Joe Fitzsimmons and two-time Tri-County Match Play winner Chad Stoffer.
There are 78 players entered in the men’s division, which will play Friday through Sunday, and nine set to compete in the second annual women’s division (Friday and Saturday). Nancy Kroll is the defending women’s titlist.
7:00 – Mike Dwyer, Jerry Brescia, Matt Panneton.
7:10 – Wyatt Pisarski, Joshua Powers, Alex Olbrych.
7:20 – Dan Stopera, Chris Stopera, Walt Perreti.
7:30 – Rick Lackey, Brandon Roberts, Mark Compton.
7:40 – Carl Gilbert, Chris Gilbert, Dave DeMarco.
7:50 – Paul Pratico, Kenny Hall, Peter Davis.
8:00 – Jeffrey Holmes, Joseph Salerno, Dan Malloy.
8:10 – John Cimmino, Robert Alheim Jr., Steve Mango.
8:20 – Ben Bates, Chad Stoffer, Aaron Simone.
8:30 – Joe Fitzsimmons, Glenn Stopera, Andy Bennett.
8:40 – Bob Cooper, Sal Romano, Lance Hope.
8:50 – Joe Cimmino, Jim Gardy, Tim Bean.
9:00 – Mark Chylinski, Jim Mueller, Ben Smith.
9:10 – Mike Stopera, Jay Stopera, Ron Cohen.
9:20 – Jim Mueller Jr., JP Hebert, Greg Stopera.
9:30 – Greg Bennett, Mike Mina, Paul Carnevale.
9:40 – Tom Salmon, Mike Wheeler, Connor Adams.
10:00 – Tony Cristello, Jeff Barringer, Armand Amedore.
10:10 – Matt Wilgocki, Mike Bayus, Neil Chambers.
10:20 – Adam Cahill, Kyle Adams, Sean Mallia.
10:30 – Don Dobbs, Mike DiGirolamo, Josh Marr.
10:40 – Dan Giovannangelo, Ben Gabriele, Chris DiCocco.
10:50 – Jim Fazio, Mark Casolo, Mike Arbige.
11:00 – Mike Lo, Mike Pollock, Pete Lindner.
12:00 – Jim Welch, Kevin Broderick, Stan Moore.
12:10 – Paul Hart, Todd Czepiel, Rob Bigley Jr.
12:20 – Debra DiMaggio, Anne Poulin Lovonia Mallory.
12:30 – Carol Aiello, Cherie Bramley, Pat Reynolds.
12:40 – Nancy Kroll, Shawna Youngs, Linda Carroll.