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Down the Fairway: Mueller, Pratico chase another title at Senior Classic

Down the Fairway: Mueller, Pratico chase another title at Senior Classic

Golfers have combined for 23 championships at Schenectady Muni
Down the Fairway: Mueller, Pratico chase another title at Senior Classic
Jim Mueller, right, with Schenectady Muni pro Matt Daley after winning last year’s Senior Classic.
Photographer: Bob Weiner

When discussing major amateur golf championships hosted by Schenectady Municipal Golf Course, two names pop up immediately: Jim Mueller and Paul Pratico. There’s a good reason why.

Mueller, a retired postal employee and former Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons assistant basketball coach, owns more Muni majors than anybody with 12. Pratico, a former pro with a machine-like swing, is close behind with 11.

Mueller and Pratico will resume their rivalry at the annual Schenectady Senior Classic on Thursday and Friday. There will be a cut after the opening round, and net prizes will be awarded after the first round in various age divisions. A new 70-and-over division will play from the gold tees, but if players want to be considered for net prizes, they must have an official USBC handicap.

Mueller, 60, who is from Altamont, won his fourth Schenectady Senior Classic, formerly the Gazette Senior County Amateur, last summer with a brilliant bogey-free final round of 6-under-par 66 for a two-day total of 7-under-par 135. A sensational wedge player who uses a claw putting grip, Mueller also owns an all-time record eight regular Schenectady Classic titles. He’s qualified for a couple of  USGA events and has teamed up with several different players to win numerous best-ball titles, as well.

Pratico, a Niskayuna resident, used to live right near the Muni layout and knows the course as well as anyone. He’s won four Schenectady Senior Classic crowns and seven Schenectady Classic titles, including 2018. He was fourth in last summer’s Schenectady Senior Classic. Also included on his resume are a New York State Senior Amateur championship, as well as the now defunct Eagle Crest Shootout crown.

It’s a good bet that both Mueller and Pratico will be near the top of the leaderboard.

LOCALS MAKE ROAD TRIP

Twelve local players are making a long road trip to compete in the 97th New York State Men’s Amateur Golf Championship at Crag Burn Golf Club in East Aurora, near Buffalo. A total of 138 players will play from Tuesday through Thursday, but there will be a cut after two rounds to the low 40 and ties, as well as anyone within 10 shots of the lead.

The local contingent is Connor McCarthy (Cobleskill G&CC), Ryan Miller (Hiland Park GC), Clinton Lange (Capital Hills at Albany), Scott Vandenburgh (Olde Kinderhook GC), Josh Powers (Shaker Ridge CC), local qualifying medalist Kelly Borden (NYSGA eClub-Capital District), Ryan Davis (Albany CC), Lance Hope (Schenectady Municipal GC), Dan Ireland (CC of Troy), Carter Flanigan (Ballston Spa CC), Jess Esposito (Normanside CC) and Brandon Haase (Albany CC). Also in the field is Rochester native and Siena product Kyle Downey, who won this year’s Troy Invitational.

No Capital Region players have won the NYS Men’s Amateur since Jay Gunning in 1986.

SCHOHARIE COUNTY AMATEUR RECAP

John Stuerke defeated Ryan McCarthy in a playoff after both players shot 73 from the championship tees in the Open division of the second annual Schoharie County Open Amateur last weekend at Cobleskill Golf & Country Club. A total of 40 players competed. McCarthy was also runner-up last year. Jason Hoch and Adam Cahill each shot 75.

Bill Kent of the host club won the men’s division from the white tees with a 1-over-par 72. Last year’s winner, Andy Rubilotto, was second with a 75, followed by Lee Miller and Richard Wrigley with 78s. Steve Madison of the host club won the senior division with a 75, followed by Don Ende with a 78. Kevin McCarthy, the former member and also the former SUNY-Cobleskill AD and men’s basketball coach, had a 79, along with John Dahl.

CHIP SHOTS

Eric Tiele of Waubeeka Golf Links won an eight-hole playoff to capture the Northeastern New York PGA Senior Professional Championship Wednesday at The Edison Club in Rexford. Tiele was rebounding from ankle and hip surgery. He and Peter Gerard of Mill Road Acres each shot 4-over-76 in regulation. They both advance to the National PGA Senior Professional Championship. Jim Jeffers of Hiland Park CC and Rocky Catalano of Ausable Club were the first two alternates.

Town of Colonie hosts the next ENYGA tournament Wednesday.

HOLES-IN-ONE

Professional Women’s Bowling Association standout Liz Kuhlkin from Rotterdam recorded her first ace with a pitching wedge on the 117-yard fifth hole at Stadium Golf Club.

Ross Testa collected his fifth career hole-in-one with an 8-iron on the 137-yard ninth hole at Pinehaven Country Club.

Dan Doyle got a hole-in-one on 121-yard par-3 at Pioneer Hills Golf Club.

EAGLES

Bill O’Rourke of the Bent Iron league holed out with a 3-wood from 218 yards for an albatross on the par-5 ninth hole at Mohawk River Country Club & Chateau.

Harry Morgan, 81, beat his age by 10 shots and also eagled the par-5 third hole at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or @BobWeiner58 on Twitter.

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