Friday August 31, 2012

ADAMS -- Jay Sniezek shook his head.

"He didn't learn from the club championship," the Hoosac Valley golf coach said after his top golfer, Chad Alibozek, lifted a tee shot past the ninth green and over Forest Park Avenue.

"I'll still make birdie," the senior said slyly.

Alibozek almost did, just missing a long putt to finish with a 1-over 35, good enough for medalist honors in a 156-175 season-opening loss to Lenox at Forest Park Country Club on Thursday. Kris Vahle led Lenox with a 38 on a tough, quirky course that always poses a challenge.

"Scrambling's the name of the game here," Vahle said. "You're going to hit fairways, but you're just trying to hit the ball well. You're trying to get near the green. ... It's scrambling. The greens are hilly. You're just trying to work your chips."

Both Vahle and Thomas Villetto, who had a 39 for the Millionaires, said there was plenty of room for improvement after the first day. Lenox (1-0) did get consistency up and down the lineup, with four golfers within two strokes of each other. That was enough to snag the win over the rebuilding Hurricanes (0-1).

Millionaires coach Dick Salinetti said he was happy with how his team played the course.

"They didn't try to overpower it. They played pretty well controlled," Salinetti said. "Keep the ball in play, second shots either on or near the greens and then chip and putt. They did that pretty well. Our scores weren't great great, but they were acceptable for the first match."

Villetto was pleased but also frustrated with the first day. He found a couple of bunkers to go along with a birdie on the second. One of those traps was on the seventh hole on a blind, elevated green. His approach overshot the green, landing in a slim bunker.

"If you don't hit your greens, it's very difficult to make up and downs [here]," Villetto said. "That's why I give Chad a lot of credit. We're hitting the ball about the same but he was really chipping well and scrambling, which is very impressive out here."

No one showed a better knack for recovering than Alibozek, last year's All-Eagle MVP. The senior almost hit out of bounds on the eighth hole before knocking down a birdie putt. He did the same thing he did in the Forest Park club championship on the next hole, going way long and forcing that quip from Sniezek.

"That's the thing with him," Sniezek said. "He can hit a bad shot and his next shot will be a spectacular shot. He doesn't hit too many bad shots. He does recover."

It meant even on a tough day, Alibozek had some bright spots to point to.

"My short game's getting a lot more solid than it was," he said. "I just hit the ball tee-to-green today horrible. Just to salvage a 35's great today."

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Lenox 156, Hoosac Valley 175

LENOX (156) -- Thomas Villetto 39, Kris Vahle 38, Cam Besse 40, CJ Meczywor 39, Patrick Conlon 41, Cam Sibley 46.

HOOSAC (175) -- Chad Alibozek 35, Keith Pero 46, Mike Barnes 47, Ty Clark 54, Matt Burdick 47, Dante Richards 60.

Birdies: Lenox -- Villetto (No. 2), Meczywor (No. 6). Hoosac -- Alibozek (No. 8), Burdick (No. 9).