Three tied for lead after first round of Junior Amateur

August 04, 2015

CLAYVILLE, N.Y. -- Danny Gianniny, Gunnar Doyle and Tommy Mandel Jr. shot even-par rounds of 72 during the first round of the NYSGA Junior Amateur Championship at Cedar Lake Club in Clayville on Tuesday.

The trio leads a crowded leaderboard as 20 players are within four shots of the lead heading into Wednesday’s final round. Sebastian Naibaho, Hogan Bendert, Marc Holzhauer, James McHugh and Ben Reichert are just one stroke back of the lead after posting 1-over 73s on the rolling layout.

Gianniny, who plays out of the Country Club of Rochester, really had it going early, making three birdies in his opening six holes. Despite bogeying three of his last four holes, Gianniny, 16, is very pleased with his position, and excited heading into the final round.

“I played extremely well early and kept it going for a while, but made a few bogeys coming in,” Gianniny said. “I avoided the big mistake and that’s what you have to do here because it’s pretty tight and the greens are tough. It was a solid round.”

Gianniny thinks more of the same could be enough to win the prestigious title.

“I just need to go out and play my game,” Gianniny said. I’m learning more about the course and should have a better idea and plan tomorrow. If I could shoot even again tomorrow it could be enough. It would be a huge deal to win this. It would be my biggest win … no doubt.”

Mandel had the home-course advantage, as he is a member at Cedar Lake. However, the tricky greens weren’t kind to the New Hartford High School star.

Despite his struggle on the greens, Mandel finds himself in perfect position to notch a memorable win.

“I hit the ball really well,” said Mandel, who won the local junior-am qualifying event in July at Seven Oaks Golf Course in Hamilton. “I really hit it well on the front nine and got up and down every time that I didn’t hit the green. I just didn’t make many putts. I had 10-foot putts all day, but didn’t make many. But the good part was that I had tap-ins for par.”

Mandel birdied Nos. 2, 14 and 17 and bogeyed Nos. 7, 9 and 16.

“If I putt better tomorrow I should be able to shoot under par … and maybe in the 60s,” Mandel said.

Like Mandel, Doyle, who finished 8th in last year’s junior amateur at Ridgemont Country Club, made three birdies (8, 11 and 14) and three bogeys (6, 9 and 18). Doyle knows that he is in great position heading into the final round.

“I’m in a good spot, and it’s good to be in the last group because it almost becomes like match play,” said Doyle, who will be a senior at Pittsford-Mendon High School in September, and will attend and play golf at West Point beginning next fall.

The difference in the final round should come down to the greens. With Cedar Lake’s quick, undulating surfaces, the player who makes a few tough putts should come away with the title.

“The greens are very tricky, and you need to be very careful where you put your approach shots,” Doyle said. “Today I hit the ball very well today and didn’t make many putts. If I can continue to hit good shots I will give myself better chances at making putts.”

Mike May Jr. is alone in ninth place after shooting 2-over 74. Defending champ Andrew Fedele shot 75, and is among a group of seven players tied for 10th. 2014 runner-up Evan Gaesser also shot 75.

Final round tee times begin at 12:30 p.m., with the final group going off the first tee at 2:30. The top-10 finishers from this year’s championship earn exemption into next year’s event.

--Nick Sardina