LOUDONVILLE — Chad Stoffer’s unflappable, steady and patient game has made him one of the best golfers in the area for several decades. Saturday, those traits were on full display, and he delivered a clutch performance.
The 47-year-old Niskayuna resident, who plays out of Town of Colonie Golf Course, fired a 3-under-par 69 in the final round for a two-day total of even-par 144 to win the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association Stroke Play Championship by two shots at Schuyler Meadows Club. The finale was delayed 1 1/2 hours because of a torrential downpour.
Two-time Schenectady Classic champion Ben Bates of Mohawk Golf Club was the runner-up with a 1-under-par 71 that gave him a total of 2-over-par 146, one shot ahead of former champion Joe Fitzsimmons of Shaker Ridge CC (74-147).
Stoffer took home a gift certificate for $400 along with a crystal trophy.
Always considered a threat in local events, Stoffer has carved out an excellent resume that includes two Tri-County Golf Association Match Play titles, numerous runner-up finishes in the Schenectady Classic and a berth in the USGA Four-Ball Championship with partner Jim Gifford. But this weekend’s performance might be his most memorable, especially considering that this event is considered the unofficial area championship for scratch players.
“Playing well in individual medal-play events means a lot to me,” Stoffer said. “You want it to have it mean something when you’re coming down the stretch. This is right up there for me in terms of my best tournaments.”
The former Union College quarterback shot 75 in the opening round and didn’t make a move on the leaders early.
“I didn’t get off to a very good start,” he said, pointing to four consecutive par-savers after mediocre approach shots. “Those four par saves might have been the key to the tournament right there,” he said.
Stoffer began his move with birdies on the fifth, 10th and 13th holes. He made an excellent two-putt par from 45 feet on the par-3 15th hole and then followed that up with a crucial hybrid shot from 207 yards out to set up an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 16. “The rain helped me on that hole, because the green was receptive to that hybrid shot,” Stoffer said.
Although he bogeyed the 17th hole — his nemesis all weekend — Stoffer closed with a key par on the 18th hole to wrap up the win. In the opening round, he suffered a triple bogey on 17.
“I’ve been playing decent lately,” Stoffer said. “Last weekend, I lost in a playoff in a tournament at Berkshire Hills. I’ve got to work on my driver a little, but I’ve been playing well.”
Bates was playing in the CRAGA Stroke Play Championship for the first time. “Usually, the Mohawk club championship was on the same weekend so I could never play,” he said. “I just couldn’t putt today. I think I had 34-35 putts. It was a good ball-striking round, but you can’t putt that way and expect to win. I didn’t have any confidence on the greens today. But Chad played unbelievable. He really deserved to win.”
Alex Bringsjord of the Country Club of Troy was fourth (75-148) and 16-year-old first-round leader Nick Lyons of the host club was fifth (77-149).
Chad Stoffer 69-144, Ben Bates 71-146, Joe Fitzsimmons 74-147, Alex Bringsjord 75-148, Nick Lyons 77-149, Griffin Hunter 71-150, Mike Raymond 74-150, Jim Mueller 74-151, Ryan Warnick 76-151, Ryan Foster 75-152, David Hayes 76-152, Dan Russo 75-153, Jim Gifford 76-153, Jamie Jackson 75-154, Mike Altobello 74-154, Jim Welch 76-154, Dave Pallas 77-155, Scott VanDenburgh 77-155, Steve Owens 78-155, Ryan Davis 80-155, Nick Braman 82-155, David Arakelian 77-156, Mike Dwyer 78-156, Jim Bologna 79-156, Matt Clarke 78-157, Kevin Cassidy 80-158, Mike Wheeler 81-158, Jerry Brescia 81-158, Clinton Lange 78-159, Connor Delaney 81-159, Bill Paulsen Jr. 83-159, Matt Ragovin 78-161, Aiden Fitzgerald 80-161, Tom Salmon 80-162, Alex Bond 85-162, Matt McGarvey 84-163, Chris Braman 81-164, Dave Smith 83-165, Tim Flanigan 88-167, John Malicki 80-168, Tim Bean 81-169, Jake Messina 81-170, Alex Kelley 88-172, Dan Williams 82-171, Ryan Kelley 85-174, Greg Peterson 88-177, Ryan. Alexin 92-177, Tim Roach 93-189.