For The Daily Gazette
SCHENECTADY — Jim Mueller’s milestone performance was magnificent.
Mueller won an all-time record 12th Schenectady Municipal Golf Course major championship with a near-flawless, bogey-free, 6-under-par 66 in the final round of the Schenectady Senior Classic on Aug. 10.
The 59-year-old retired postal worker edged Bob Cooper by three shots to capture his fourth Schenectady Senior Classic — formerly the Gazette Senior County Amateur — with a two-day total of 7-under-par 135. He also has eight regular Schenectady Classic titles to his credit.
“This feels great,” Mueller said. “But I’m extremely competitive in every tournament I play in. Today, I hit basically every green, and I didn’t have many hard putts, except for maybe the third hole, where I had to come up and over a ridge. My irons were probably the best they’ve been, and my overall ball-striking was as good as it’s been in a long time.”
Cooper, a former pro and winner of two regular Schenectady Classic championships, remained in contention throughout the round, but he couldn’t put enough pressure on Mueller.
“Hats off to Jim for winning this the way he did. When a guy shoots 66, what are you going to do?” Cooper said. “He played perfect golf today. I just couldn’t make enough putts. If the putt was 30 feet or longer, I had a chance, but if it was 5 feet or less, I would miss it. I must have had five or six putts like that. I missed so many putts by just a little bit today.”
Cooper began the day tied for the lead with Mike Drake at 3-under-par 69. He had difficulty escaping the bunker on the par-3 sixth hole and settled for a double bogey, but he got those two strokes back with an eagle on the par-5 ninth for the second day in a row.
Cooper’s outstanding flop shot led to an up-and-down par on the 10th hole, and his 45-foot putt gave him a birdie on the par-5 12th. Failing to cash in on huge tee shots on both the par-5 14th and 16th holes prevented him from making up any ground on Mueller.
Meanwhile, Mueller birdied the third, fourth, ninth, 10th, 12th and 16th holes. The birdie on No. 16 was a bonus, considering his tee shot clipped the trees in the right rough. “My tee shot went into the hazard to the left in the first round, so there was no way I was going left,” Mueller said. He hit a hybrid back into the fairway and then nailed a wedge shot to within four feet to set up the clinching birdie.
Mueller closed out his title with an up-and-down par on the 17th hole while Cooper missed a chance to gain ground by failing to roll in a 10-foot birdie try. Mueller then two-putted for par on No. 18.
“I was a completely different guy today than I was in the first round,” Mueller said. “I had everything going today.”
Drake finished third with a 1-under-par 143 total. He suffered a double bogey on the fourth hole and a bogey on the sixth but birdied the 12th, 15th and 16th holes on the back. Defending champion Paul Pratico was fourth with a 1-over-par 145.
Jim Mueller 66-137, Bob Cooper 71-140, Mike Drake 74-143, Paul Pratico 74-145, Glenn Stopera 75-147, Lucas Sirois 74-148, Kevin Broderick 77-148, Jeff Barringer 74-150, Jay Taub 75-150, Chuck Connolly 77-150, Kenny Hall 73-151, Mike Arminio 74-151, Tim Flanigan 77-152, Andy Bennett 76-153, Tony Cristello 81-156, Dan Conway 84-157, Paul Pawlik 80-157, Mark Compton 82-158, Kevin Dwyer 80-158, Tim Bean 81-159, Paul Toth 81-159, Mike Carroll 83-160, Mike Mina 82-160, Ron Anzalone DNS.