Benedict leads NYSGA Senior Amateur

BINGHAMTON, NY (Oct. 5, 2011) -- Vestal Hills Country Club dried out after a wet day one at the Men’s Senior and Super Senior Amateur Championship, but strong winds led to higher scores. At the end of the day, — appropriately – the only one who ended under-par found himself leading.

Dave Benedict of Brook-Lea Country Club followed a day one 77 with a two-under 70 to vault himself up the leaderboard.

On a tough day for everyone, Benedict wasn’t perfect, but was still a step ahead of the field.

“I was hitting my driver really well and I was putting okay,” said Benedict. “I hit a lot of fairways but I had to get up and down a lot because my irons weren’t solid.”

Benedict went right to the range after his round in an attempt to work out the kinks in his iron game. He credited his course knowledge for his play on the greens.

You have to know where the valley is on the greens,” said Benedict “I’ve played here before so I sort of remember where some are. There are some greens that are pretty severe.”

After a first round that saw only one birdie –albeit on the difficult par-four 18th – Benedict increased that number to four in round two. He cut his bogeys from six to two. So, although his iron play may have left something to be desired, he knows he performed well.

“The score was good,” said Benedict “I’m not really happy with the way I struck the ball. But if you can get it up and down, that’s the name of the game. Fortunately I was able to do that today.”

Trailing Benedict by two strokes is Andrew Conway, who shot the second lowest round of the day, a two-over 73.

For the second straight day, Conway was able to eagle the par-five first hole. Like Benedict, he cut down his bogeys – from seven to two – and increased his birdies – from one to three. Double bogeys on the par-four second hole and the number 18 cost him a chance at a lead going into the final day.

Rounding out the top three, and joining Benedict and Conway in tomorrow’s final round, is Binghamton Country Club’s John Benware. Benware shot a five-over 76, and trails Benedict by four strokes.

Benware made the final group in spite of the windy conditions.

“The wind was blowing very hard,” said Benware. “It was extremely difficult. It’s hard to adjust when it’s blowing that hard. Going into the wind it was a two, three, four club difference – it was really hard to pick a club.”

When asked about why the scores were going up, Benware summed it up simply.

“It’s an extremely difficult golf course in extremely difficult conditions, and that’s why you’re seeing scores so high,” said Benware. “Clearly you have to try and stay focused through the round. You just have to really try and stay balanced and keep the ball in play. That’s really all you can ask for in these conditions.”

Day one leader Frank Plata shot 83. After making six birdies on day one, he carded only one on day two. Jim Cocca, who started the round in second place, also struggled. He shot an 86.

There was a new leader in the Super Senior Division: defending Senior and Super Senior champion Chuck Connolly.

Connolly began the round two strokes behind Larry Gresham. After shooting a seven-over 79 to open the championship, Connolly cleaned things up in his second round. He made four bogeys, and one birdie. After making three doubles day one he had zero today.

Still, when Connolly was done, it was the mistakes that weighed on his mind.

“I had three three-putts on the back nine today and I had five on the back nine yesterday,” said Connolly, who did give the other elements of his game credit. “From tee to green I played fine. I hit it pretty good. I drove it well. I usually play fine tee to green, and sometimes I putt well.”

Connolly also had an idea of why he was able to avoid any major blow ups.

“Yesterday I made about four scared swings – where I just sort of lurched at it from the top – and just hit them awful,” said Connolly. “So today I just wanted to stay calm and not try to hit it too hard, and not rush.”

John Baker is second in the Super Senior Division. He trails Connolly by four strokes after shooting a six-over 77. Fred Ariliss, who carded an 81, is in third place. He is seven strokes behind Connolly.

The final round is tomorrow, starting at 9 a.m., play will begin off of tees one and ten.

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