Russo & Hamilton Capture Titles in Rain-Shortened Senior At Cavalry
MANLIUS, N.Y. – Daniel Russo of Schuyler Meadows Club captured his first state title at the 2019 NYS Men’s Senior Amateur Championship at Cavalry Club in Manlius.
The 61-year-old was the leader after 36 holes and became the champion after the final round was cancelled due to rain on Thursday. He finished at 1-over 145 (72-73).
“Getting older, you never know if you’re going to win again. To win statewide, it’s very exciting for me,” he mentioned of the victory.
Groups were called off the golf course at 10am, about 30 minutes after the leaders teed off, as heavy rain led to puddling that slowly emerged on greens around the course. After over an hour in a delay, the tournament committee attempted to begin play again, but continued rain and the course’s saturation forced them to pull players off the course a second time, eventually leading to a decision to cancel the final 18 holes.
John Bufalini of Ives Hill Country Club and David Hicks of Robert Trent Jones Golf Course at Cornell University, who were tied at 2-over 146, shared the runner-up honors.
“When you have a chance to win, you wish you could tee it up and finish the tournament. Mother Nature just didn’t cooperate today, but that happens,” said Bufalini.
“I’m in the business, I understand there’s only so much you can do. Ben and his staff did an awesome job, the course was great,” said Hicks, who’s a superintendent himself.
In his second year eligible, the Ithaca player was happy to finish solidly after falling down the leaderboard during last year’s final round. “This is a big deal to me. Something I’ve kind of built towards for a few years, even physically. This tournament inspired me to get in better shape,” he said. “I was very motivated this year to finish it off better, so that’s a little disappointing. I’m really looking forward to next year and seeing what I can do.”
2018 champion Robert Hughes of Watertown Golf Club and Jim Mason of Oak Hill Country Club finished tied for fourth at 147.
Jim Mueller of Orchard Creek came in at 148 to finish in sixth. 2016 champion Paul Pratico of Schenectady Municipal came in seventh at 150.
Rounding out the top ten were Ken Cohen of Villa Roma Country Club, Andy Conway of Ravenwood Golf Club, Richard Luther of Stafford Country Club, and Jack Weinerth of Highland Park Country Club who all tied at 151.
This was the Hagaman resident, Russo’s, second time playing in the event. Last year at Mohawk, he finished tied for ninth.
“I’ve played Mohawk a hundred times, and I couldn’t have played it any worse. I always take pride in figuring out how you’re supposed to play a course, and that just didn’t happen last year.”
This year, he traveled a little farther away from home to a course he wasn’t familiar with. “We came up a couple weeks ago and played a practice round. I thought the course was good, I really did. There’s holes you can score on, but if they tuck some pins, you have some issues and need to play a little defensively.”
In the Super Senior Division, John Hamilton of Hudson National Golf Club led after both rounds at Cavalry Club to break through and win his first state title.
The 69-year-old was the 2017 runner-up at Crag Burn Golf Club, and his other four Super Senior attempts were outside the top 5. “It was a good course for me. The strength of my game is ball striking. I felt the holes lined up well, gave me good sight lines and I hit the ball well from tee to green. The defense of the course is the greens, very tricky. I could have done better on them but overall was very happy with my game,” he mentioned of his performance.
Hamilton put together two 73s this week to finish at 2-over. “Well I worked hard. I spent more time on the practice range and did get an event or two in prior to this, which I think always helps. You guys do a great job with the events and the people I play with are just outstanding, so it’s a comfortable place to play and I enjoy it every year. This will always be a very special event for me,” Hamilton said.
Finishing in second was last year’s champion Jim Hamburger of McCann Golf Course. Hamburger was three shots back after the first round, and cut it to a stroke after he posted a tournament-low round of 70 on the 6,018-yard layout.
“I feel fortunate to still be playing at that level. It’s just a great game to be able to do that. The beauty of the game of golf is you’re still able to play when you get a little older and the people that you get to meet out on the golf course. I feel very lucky to be part of it,” Hamburger said.
Scott Dean of Attica Golf Club finished in third at 148, and Mark Battle of Ravenwood Golf Club took fifth place at 150.
Next year, the championship will be conducted a little closer to home for both Hamilton and Hamburger, when it will head to The Powelton Club in Newburgh, New York.Age group winners were recognized in the following categories: 55-59 Flight - Jim Mason (Oak Hill CC)60-64 Flight - Jim Mueller (Orchard Creek GC)65-69 Flight - Scott Dean (Attica GC)