Leaders Open with 8-under at 2021 NYS Men's Four-Ball Championships

May 23, 2021

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Ten groups are within four strokes of the lead after the opening round of the 10th NYS Men’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship hosted at Leatherstocking Golf Course in Cooperstown.

Related: ResultsRd 1 Photos / Program

Jim Gifford (Mohawk Golf Club) and 2019 NYS Men’s Senior Amateur champion Dan Russo (Schuyler Meadows Club) are currently in the top spot at 8-under 64.

The Capital Region duo finished 7-under in the last six holes, including eagles on Nos. 15 and 18 to take the early advantage.

“We got off to a decent start, then it started raining. Then we kind of just went on a run,” said Gifford, referring to the pretty scoreable finishing stretch of the golf course which includes three shorter par 4s, and two par 5s.

After several impressive holes by Gifford, Russo capitalized on the home hole for his team by stuffing his second shot on the par 5 to five feet and knocked it in for the eagle to push them into the top spot. 

“He’s fun to watch when he gets it going. Sometimes I think I do it too much, watch instead of play,” Russo joked.

Joining them in tomorrow’s final pairing is Brad Monroe (Lakeshore Yacht & Country Club) and Kevin Vandenberg (Tuscarora Golf Club) who sit one stroke back at 65.

The pair out of Syracuse also capitalized down the stretch, as the weather cleared up with six birdies in their final nine holes to get into the leader group.

“We made one birdie putt over five feet, and that was on seventeen,” said Monroe. “We didn’t make any bogeys though, which is always good.” 

“We’re really comfortable together. We have a lot of confidence in each other, and have a lot of fun,” Vandenberg mentioned. 

Matthew Mahlke (MGA eClub – Hudson Valley) and Cullen Spang (Normanside Country Club) along with Jon Boland (Crag Burn Golf Club) and Josh Fickes (Brookfield Country Club) will be the penultimate group for Monday’s final round after both teams fired 66. 

Six sides posted 67 including Edward Kinley (Wolferts Roost) and Travis Koch (Saratoga National Golf Club), Tom Mandel (Cedar Lake Club) and Chris Yustin (Transit Valley Country Club), Scott Knapp (Shaker Ridge Country Club) and Mark Thornhill (Ballston Spa Country Club), 2018 champions Billy and David Hanes (Crag Burn Golf Club), Jim Hirsch (Kanon Valley Country Club) and Bill Virkler (Yahnundasis Golf Club), and Ryan Meikle (Ballston Spa Country Club) and Zach Scala (Pinehaven Country Club).

Michael Dwyer and Michael Stopera (Edison Club) are four strokes back at 68.

Tee times for Monday’s final round will begin at 7:40am, with the final pairing teeing off at 1:54pm. Winners will earn an exemption into the 2021 NYS Men’s Amateur at Schuyler Meadows Club in August as well as the NYS Men’s Mid-Amateur at Shaker Ridge Country Club in September. 


In the 9th NYS Men’s Senior Amateur Four-Ball, the defending champions Ken Ogden (Oak Hill Country Club) and Wade Sarkis (Canandaigua Country Club) hold a three-stroke lead after shooting 8-under 64.

They had a bogey-free card, and managed four birdies along with consecutive eagles on holes 14 and 15 to give themselves a slight cushion entering the final round.

“Kenny made a really good par putt on one, which kept us from getting in that negative mindset from bogeying the first hole. Then the magic happened on 14,” said Sarkis, referring to the driveable fourteenth hole. “We both had eagle putts and mine went in, then he chipped it in on the next hole and we grabbed four shots just like that.” 

Joining them in the all-Rochester final pairing is Mark Battle (Ravenwood Golf Club) and Chris Sorci (NYSGA eClub – Rochester) who collaborated for 5-under 67.

Battle is the current president of the Rochester District Golf Association and won the Senior Four-Ball title in 2013 with a former partner Bob Chalanick.

“This is our third event. We haven’t really played much together at all. He hooked up with me sometime last year and we finished third in our first tournament with absolutely no putting. We both hit it pretty solid, we have plenty of distance, so I thought, why don’t we make it a team?”

2017 champions Robert Branham (Canasawacta Country Club) and Kevin Webb (Mendon Golf Club) posted 68 along with Jim Mueller (Orchard Creek Golf Club) and Bill Paulson (Eagle Crest Golf Club).

Two more teams are five shots off the lead, including 2018 NYS Men’s Super Senior champion Jim Hamburger (McCann Golf Course) and Dennis Lynch (Nassau Players Club) as well as Stuart Harris (Oak Hill Country Club) and John Quethera (Penfield Country Club).

Tee times for Monday’s final round will begin at 8:35am, with the final senior group teeing off at 1:43pm.