SCHENECTADY — Patience, persistence and perspective helped Ben Bates become a multiple Schenectady Classic champion in sloppy conditions.
Bates, the 2012 winner in this event who will be 38 years old in a couple of weeks, birdied his final three holes en route to a
final-round 3-under-par 69 to rally past Lance Hope and secure his second Schenectady Classic title at rain-drenched Schenectady
Municipal Golf Course Sunday. Bates finished the 54-hole event with a 2-under-par 214 while Hope shot a 75-215.
Rain poured down throughout most of the final round on the 30 players who made the cut, and although the course held up well, it was clear that the “mudders” had an advantage.
“I don’t mind the rain,” said Bates, who has captured numerous club championships at Mohawk Golf Club. “I’d rather play in the rain than the wind. There is no sense complaining about it. If you just block it out, you can only help yourself. Rain has never really bothered me."
The former NYS Junior champion and Skidmore College standout started the tournament with a 75, but he rebounded with back-to-back sub-par rounds, including a 70 on Saturday.
“I tried to catch half the field [Saturday] and half of them today,” Bates said.
“The conditions probably helped me. You can just hang in there and people start to fade a little. Then, I got hot there at the end. I birdied the last three holes. I almost chipped in for eagle on the 16th hole and birdied the next two, as well. A burst of good play at the end came just at the right time.”
Bates bogeyed the opening hole but then birdied the next two to make the turn at 1-under-par 35. On the back nine, he birdied the par-5 12th, and then made back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes before surging at the end.
Meanwhile, Hope, the first-round leader, played steady golf on the front side with eight pars to go along with a bogey on the second hole. He ran into trouble with bogeys on the 10th, 14th and 15th holes on the back. He birdied the 11th hole.
“I didn’t know where I stood,” said Hope. “I just kept playing. I tried to stay out of trouble and make a lot of pars. It took a great score to beat me. What are you going to do? All I can do is come back next year and try to win again.”
Hope, 44, won his first major championship last year in the Troy Invitational, where he will defend his title next weekend. He finished second in the Schenectady Classic, losing in playoffs both times, in both 2016 and 2017.
Two players making their tournament debut, Jim Gifford of Saratoga National and Tyler Gregory of Mohawk Golf Club, tied for third with three-day totals of 1-over-par 217. Gifford, a multiple Saratoga County Amateur titlist, made a huge run with a 32 on the front nine but double bogeys on both the 12th and 14th holes sidetracked him. Gregory, the second-round leader after a 5-under-par 67, struggled with a 41 on the front nine.
The top 10 players earned gift certificates. Rounding out the leaders were Alex Olbrych (71-219), Kyle Adams (73-219), eight-time winner Jim Mueller (74-219), Joe Fitzsimmons (68-220), who shot the low round of the day; Mike Dwyer (71-220) and Mark Chylinski (76-224).
Ben Bates 69-214, Lance Hope 75-215, Jim Gifford 71-217, Tyler Gregory 78-217, Alex Olbrych 71-219, Kyle Adams 73-219, Jim Mueller 74-219, Joe Fitzsimmons 68-220, Mike Dwyer 71-220, Mark Chylinski 76-224, Chad Stoffer 72-225, Rob Bigley Jr. 72-225, Aaron Simone 77-226, Chris Gilbert 79-226, Paul Pratico 73-228, Bob Cooper 80-228, Mike Stopera 74-230, Kevin Broderick 79-230, Andy Bennett 80-230, Nicholas Roney 74-231, Seth Adams 76-231, Eric Wasserbach 77-231, Todd Czepiel 76-233, Tom Salmon 77-235, Nick Braman 81-235, Tim Flanigan 80-236, Connor Adams 82-239, Tony Cristello 82-240, Glenn Stopera 83-240, Josh Powers WD.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or @BobWeiner58 on Twitter.