Prior to this season, Greenock Country Club head professional Bob Mucha had been Mr. Consistency in Northeast New York PGA Section tournaments. Though he wasn’t shooting eye-popping 65s or 66s, he was always around par and usually near the top of the leaderboard.
He won the section’s Vardon Trophy (lowest scoring average) last year and his steady style was on display when he won the 2012 NENY PGA Match Play Championship.
This year had been a different story with a string of uncharacteristically high scores and finishes. That is, until Wednesday, when he shot a one-under par 70 and survived a four-hole playoff to capture the NENY PGA Senior Stroke Play Championship at the Country Club of Troy.
"It was unexpected because I haven’t been playing well at all," said Mucha, who turned 50 in January to become eligible for senior events. "This has been one of my poorest seasons. I’ve even posted scores in the 80s and I hadn’t done that in years. I lost in a playoff a Cobbleskill, but other than that, I have just been one of the players filling out the fields."
Mucha’s mindset has changed dramatically with his victory considering that the win puts him in the field for the Senior PGA National Professional Championship for club pros in Virginia in October.
"It’s a nice little perk. I had almost written off the rest of the year," Mucha said. "Now I have a month-and-a-half to get ready, so it gives me motivation to practice. What excites me is that things will start slowing down [at Greenock], so I will have time to work on my game."
Mucha has qualified for the national PGA Club Professional Championship in the past, but he figures his chances for a good performance are better at the senior event.
"In the regular [national club pro] tournament, they set the courses up very, very long," said Mucha, who isn’t a long hitter by today’s grip-it-and-rip-it standards. "With the senior set-up, I have a better chance to do well."
At Troy, Mucha suddenly regained his scoring consistency, making 13 pars, three birdies and two bogeys.
"I really only hit one bad shot," Mucha said. "I took my bogey there and just went about my business."
When he did miss a green, Mucha had the right answers despite Troy’s undulating putting surfaces.
"My short game was really good," he said.
He also saved his best for last, making birdies on two of the final three holes to squeeze into the playoff against Rocky Catalano, of the Ausable Club in Hubert, N.Y. Mucha and Catalano finished one shot ahead of Frank Mellett and Keith Sprenger. Wyantenuck Country Club’s Tom Sullivan, the defending champion, finished fourth with a 72. Sullivan did take top honors in the 60-and-over division.
In the playoff, Mucha made a clutch 12-foot par save on the first playoff hole and, after two more pars, stuck a wedge close on the fourth playoff hole (No. 18) for the winning birdie.
As a result, Mucha will obviously head into his match play title defense Sept. 17-18 with a different attitude than would have been the case a week ago.
"I wasn’t looking forward to it," he admitted. "But I do play well at Mohawk [Golf Club]."
Meanwhile, the NENY section will make one of its infrequent visits to the Berkshires on Monday for the section Class A Championship. County players in the field will be Mucha, Sullivan and Cranwell Resort, Golf Club and Spa’s David Strawn, who shot a 74 at Troy.
To contact Richard Lord:
or (413) 496-6236